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5 red flags you’re hiring the wrong digital agency [2020]

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Whether you run a business or a startup, you would need to embrace digitalisation eventually.

If you are still not convinced on why you need to embrace digitalisation, please, think again. It’s very important.

Read: 3 reasons you should embrace digital strategy regardless of your industry

You will need a website, SEO strategy, digital marketing and even newsletter database if you are looking to scale your business efficiently by making data driven decision. 

Thing is, not everyone is equipped with the skill to handle digital work for their business. Even if you have the skills to do so, not everyone has the time to keep up with all the changes and updates in the technology industry.

So inevitably, at some point, one would need to consider hiring a digital agency. Problem is,  how do you avoid hiring the wrong agency?

If by any chance, you had already hire/ feel like you hired the wrong digital agency then this article is for you. It’s too late to do anything now, but no harm having a look at the 5 red flags you made the wrong digital agency hire.

You can still cut your losses.

Key takeaways : Hiring a digital agency is not a task that can be taken lightly. One wrong hire and you could be risking all your business's potential growth and future trajectory.

But if you realise any red flags stated below then you just cut your losses, do not hesitate!

(i) Not replying to your enquiries/ questions within 1 working day
(ii) Overpromising with zero explanation on the execution method

(iii) Does not disclose what digital method/ methodology they are using for your business

(iv) Ignore or make fun of your opinions when you're asking questions

(v) Does not share their knowledge with you on the digital route map

If you run into any of the situations above, then it's better to just ask for a refund. Losing a larger portion of your business down the road is no fun.

RED FLAG 1: NOT REPLYING TO YOUR ENQUIRIES/ QUESTIONS WITHIN ONE WORKING DAY

With the advancement of technology, there’s just no reason for them to not reply to any of your enquiries within 1 working day.

If they are unsure about the answer to your question, they could have texted back and said: ” We will get back to you shortly.” Ignoring and not replying at all is a serious red flag.

It jeopardizes your business plans as well as the deadline. Not fun. Sometimes, we do understand that digital agency can be really busy handling multiple projects at the same time. But remember, there’s no excuse to not even return your text.

There’s always time to reply to your text/ enquiries. Even if it’s a one-liner answer. Period.

Hiring a digital agency that is not responsive

RED FLAG 2: OVER PROMISING WITH ZERO EXPLANATION ON THE EXECUTION METHOD

Well. In this situation, both the client and digital agency share blames for this. Normally this happens because client demanded for a result that is impossible to achieve within a short period. 

Read: How to avoid bad clients: 12 red flags I look for to dodge nightmare projects 

But, for the benefit of the doubt, the client may have said it due to a lack of understanding of how things work in the digital world.  Regardless, as a responsible digital agency, they have the responsibility to say ” No ” to an expectation that is not realistic and not practical.

If they made lots of promises and blurted out lots of technical terminology when you ask them on how they are assisting you to reach your goals. Then, it’s a sign that they are just pleasing you for the sake of obtaining the project. 

Client: "I need you to make my website show up in the first page of Google when anyone googled keywords relating to our business within 3 days. "

Digital agency X: " Sure, easy."

Client: " How are you achieving that for us? "

Digital agency X: " Well, I just put A into B, B into C etc. And then I will power it up with Tool D and Tool E.

You see the point? It's not even answering your question and it's confusing you. Run, this is a red flag.

RED FLAG 3: DOES NOT DISCLOSE WHAT DIGITAL METHODOLOGY THEY ARE USING FOR YOUR BUSINESS

When you are embracing digital strategy/ digitalisation for your business, you must know what tools the digital agency you hired are using to complete your work.

It’s easy to fake short term results that will not do any good for your business in the long run. For example, digital agency may do any of the following without you noticing:- “fake followers on Instagram” , “buying likes for your Facebook page”, “buying traffic for your website” etc.

On surface, everything looks perfect for your business. But at the core of your digital strategy deployed by the digital agency, it is already doomed to fail for certain in the long run.

A core and legitimate digital strategy should be built on a well planned, clear and practical route-map. Do not fall for any quick scheme or any ill practices.

Ask for their digital strategy before hiring a digital agency

RED FLAG 4: IGNORE OR MAKE FUN OF YOUR OPINIONS WHEN YOU'RE ASKING FOR QUESTIONS

No question is a stupid question. Period!

By hiring a digital agency, you would expect them to assist you with your digital strategy. But what they don’t realise is that they are in the digital business and are not running any business in your industry. 

You may have zero clue on which digital strategy to adopt, but you have more experience and knowledge regarding the operation in your industry. 

Say if you’re running a restaurant, they might have plans on how to build a website and begin offering delivery services. But only you, as the owner, knows if your business is in the capacity to begin delivery services as well as the return of investment on it. 

A good digital strategy requires both parties to work together. If a digital agency ignores your opinions and insist on deploying the digital strategy they think is right without considering your situation, RUN. 

It’s a red flag.

Laughing at your genuine question is just a red flag for a wrong digital agency hire

RED FLAG 5: DOES NOT SHARE THEIR KNOWLEDGE WITH YOU ON THE DIGITAL ROUTE MAP

Education is power.

For our digital agency, we vividly remember how we approached our first client who’s in disbelieve of digital strategy. We then spent time to educate him on how important it is to embrace digitalisation.

We talked to him about digital marketing and how it is more efficient than traditional marketing methods. It took us tons of effort before he finally gave us a try. Embracing digital strategy is like escaping the red ocean, you have to do it to outsmart your competitors and gain more market share.

Read: All about Blue Ocean strategy and why SMEs need it 

So why not continue to educate your client even after they gave you a project?

While it is true that some digital agency might have some secret sauce on how they would like to deploy their digital marketing or even SEO. But since you are already their client, it means no harm to share a bit of their knowledge on digitalisation with you!

After all, having those knowledge let u understand their digital plan better and are able to evaluate your business’s situation better. Denying you that knowledge is like leaving you blindfolded and ignorant of the progress on the digitalisation. 

Run if you see this red flag on the digital agency you hired.
Hire a digital agency that shares with you

SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU REALISED YOU HIRED THE WRONG DIGITAL AGENCY?

A simple answer would be- Cut your losses. It’s not worth your time to go back and forth with a digital agency you’re not happy working with.

You will do more justice to your business if you look for another digital agency instead.

Or… You could do it yourself! Here’s a little something from us to kick start your transformation.

Read: 5 free best tools for small businesses to start their marketing campaign  

If you need any help, send a message into us! We will be more than happy to assist. 

If you love this content and would like to read more, do remember to subscribe to our newsletter.

If you love Catalyst Digital and would like to start a project with us, start by clicking here to get more information.
Jin Chi

Jin Chi

The founder of Catalyst Digital. Born in year 1995, a huge fan of blue ocean strategy as well as lean startup. You can contact him by email at [email protected]

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