The Biggest Red Flags of Shady Marketing Firms

While virtually every form of digital marketing and organic exposure are crucial to online brand success, not everybody has the skills, time or focus to pursue these efforts themselves. Thankfully, a wide variety of firms and agencies can provide brands with expert-level guidance and management in these areas. For the right price, virtually anything is possible in terms of achieving short-term and/or long-term results.

However, there are some firms and agencies that are simply not worth the price. Fundamentally, there are good and bad agencies offering services to brands, blogs and businesses. The real question on most people’s minds when looking to hire professionals is: how do you know the difference between the good and the bad?

To help you out, we’ll discuss the biggest red flags you’ll encounter from shady marketing firms.

Data Ownership

It might sound crazy, but there are some shady marketing firms that will only work with clients if they agree to cede their right to data and information. This not only may pertain to the data collected by the firm and used to improve marketing and/or SEO results, but even ownership of the brand’s website credentials. An agency that requests you cede total control of your website to them – including admin usernames and passwords – should raise red flags.

The reason this is worrisome is because of what can happen whenever you no longer wish to work with the firm. There are many horror stories about firms that started as assistants in pinging links and content to audiences who – upon the brand no longer wishing to work with them – held the brand effectively hostage by refusing to return control of website(s) and/or social media to the company.

Guarantees and Promises

Here is the reality: no firm or agency can absolutely promise to deliver a set of results within a given time-frame. Yet all too often, some shady firms make these promises in the hopes of enticing prospective clients.

The nature of marketing and search engine optimization is chaotic, and as such, being able to deliver upon lofty promises within a particular period of time isn’t realistic. As such, any brand that promises to elevate you to the top search result for a particular phrase or keyword, or that guarantees your sales and/or clicks will increase by a set percentage is simply making promises they can’t necessarily keep.

A Lack of Personal Focus

Firms and agencies that spend more time talking about themselves than your own brand or niche should be considered with caution. The reason? Marketing firms qualified in your brand’s area of focus should be able to articulate what exactly they can do for your brand, whether it be pinging links to qualified traffic or expanding your social media empire.

If the “personal focus” of the interaction is centered around how great they are without providing detailed information on your industry or niche, then beware: they are probably not as well-suited to bolster your marketing prowess as they claim.

Plenty of awful marketing firms and agencies exist, serving themselves before the interests of their clients. If you encounter any of these problematic dynamics while interviewing or consulting with a firm, then it’s generally a good idea to seek assistance from another source.

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