The Disadvantages Of Working With Marketing Agencies

Marketing is no longer like something you would see in Mad Men, it's a little more chaotic nowadays.

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I’ve been working in the marketing industry for the past 7 years; for the most part it’s been an enjoyable learning experience. There’s some things I’ve questioned but the real problems I’ve seen happen to clients from other agencies.

Most work gets subcontracted out

This was something that blew my mind, when I was working in this industry. Almost every agency I have ever worked with has subcontracted out web design work to people in India. I haven’t had the best experiences with this design process because there is a language barrier you have to overcome. Sure, it makes production costs cheaper but in the long run it needs constant oversight and revisions.

When I was first coming up with this business idea I was binging videos and articles on the web for insight. Almost every “professional” recommendation is to offer every service imaginable and subcontract out the work you can’t do. What I got from this is that the digital marketer you’re working with might be good at one thing like social media management, which is the easiest task to do, and then they will subcontract out the more complex things. I have the skill set and background in all these more difficult parts of marketing which is why I offer them for my clients. The three things I don’t offer are graphic design, copy writing, and social media management.

I don’t offer these services mainly because, they’re too time consuming and it creates a false “voice” compared to the creative individual taking it on themselves. What I do instead is help provide a system around your business to make these tasks more manageable. For example, in my strategy sessions we go over how to manage your social media more effectively and utilize free resources available to enhance it. When it comes to copywriting for a website or blog post, I send over a list of questions for you to answer personally. This helps create your “voice” and I can easily tweak it for SEO. When it comes to graphic design, I already work with creative individuals who can take care of these things themselves. This way I can focus on what I’m best at and not have to charge my clients for subcontracted work.

They Use What You Don’t Understand To Their Advantage

This is honestly one of the worst things I’ve seen working with clients coming from other agencies. Whether it’s reports, SEO strategies, or SEM campaigns they know you don’t have the time to learn and understand this stuff and they use that against you. I mean why would they want to show you everything wrong with what they’re doing? This is why my go to sales phrase is, “I’m the guy that’s going to tell you the good, the bad, and more specifically the ugly.” I know what I’m capable of, if it’s not working that’s going to keep me up at night until I know why and how to fix it. More importantly, I’ll tell you what’s going on.


This is one of the most popular tactics used by marketing agencies and freelancers to prove to their clients they’re doing a good job when in all actuality they’re doing a piss poor one. For example, they’ll set up a report that takes about five seconds to generate with no real depth or insight to it. The reports generally consists of total visitors, basic demographics, devices used, and what the most popular acquisition channels and pages on the site are. The problem with this is that websites are on the world wide web. Meaning, traffic comes from across the globe. So marketers will say they’re bringing in all this traffic to your site when the reality is the traffic is coming from other countries. It’s even worse when you offer a local service! They’ll show you all this traffic and say everything is working when there’s almost no leads coming from your service area. I’ve seen this done too many times, and they get away with it because they know you don’t understand the data they’re showing you.

There’s a reason why I do quarterly reports for my clients instead of monthly and that’s because the amount of time I spend sorting through the data and offering feedback/insight. I look at the data and analyze it like I was looking at my own site. I used to do monthly reports but it became too time consuming to justify the cost of it as a monthly service and honestly the data doesn’t change too much when you’re looking at it month to month. Plus, I’m looking at the data on a bi-weekly basis in my management so it’s not like anything catches me by surprise when it comes time to create the report at the end of a quarter.

SEO Strategies

SEO is a complex beast that takes a lot of time, effort, strategy, and content behind it to make it work well. I never understood how companies could offer SEO at an extremely low cost and guarantee results. Well, this goes back to what I was saying earlier. You’re advertising a website on the world wide web, so what they’re doing is focusing less on bringing any credible traffic to your site. Their main concern is just making sure the numbers go up every month, it doesn’t matter to them if it’s generating any actual business. There’s certainly a part to good SEO where more traffic helps regardless of where it is coming from but what matters to me most is getting legitimate work from these marketing efforts.

This is one of the reasons I stress the importance of systems before undertaking any huge marketing efforts. It’s important to know where your business is coming from so you as a business owner know where to focus your time, attention, and resources. A good system will track how people heard about you and how much money you made from their business. This way you can determine whether you’re getting a good return on investment from it.

A lot of companies will use the excuse that SEO takes a lot of time and that’s pretty much true. However, without systems it’s hard to determine whether these efforts are worth it or not. This is why they primarily try to sell you on SEO instead of other marketing methods, it’s easy for them to produce crappy content with no real strategy behind it, get paid, and then blame you for it not working.

SEM Camapigns

When I first started doing paid digital advertising, I always considered myself an amateur until I saw what companies charge way more for it but were pouring budgets down the drain essentially. It is almost like they’re getting away with murder but it goes completely unnoticed. Here’s a few things that I see on a consistent basis when looking at other marketing agencies paid advertising campaigns.

Utilizing the Wrong Keyword Modifiers

A simple rule of thumb for creating a search campaign is to avoid broad match keywords. They have no value, they essentially just drain your budgets. However, I see “professionals” regularly use broad match keywords in their campaigns and it makes no sense to me. The simplest explanation I can come up with as to why is that they do no keyword research beforehand. Instead, they use broad match and broad match modifiers to fill in their gaps.

What this does is show your ads for the most unrelated searches which is just a waste of money. For example, if you’re targeting the phrase “photographers near me” broad match might show your ads for someone looking for a photographer in another state because it would assume that’s what you meant by “near”. Again, this is how they use data against you. They can come back and say, “x amount of people clicked this ad and went to your site” when really only half of those clicks were potential customers.

Personally, I like to use phrase match keywords as a bare minimum when I create campaigns. I use an extensive list of all possible phrases someone might search by doing keyword research beforehand. Additionally, I set up an extensive negative keyword list because the research will tell me everything I don’t want the ads to show for. I can 100% guarantee my campaigns can run on auto-pilot after three months of management because of this methodology. Those three months of management ensure that I’m not wasting any of your money.

Showing Ads On Mobile Games

If broad match is how you can waste a budget with a search campaign, mobile games is how you waste a budget on a display campaign. Again, I’ve seen professionals do this consistently and I have no idea why for this one. Maybe it’s because they subcontracted their work out to an amateur haha.

The problem with displaying ads on mobile games is that they are notorious for generating “accidental clicks”, which cost you money. However, mobile apps purposely design advertisements to pop up where you would click in a game because a click generates them money! What I love most about display campaigns is that it’s a branding method at the very least, because if someone doesn’t click your ad then it doesn’t cost you anything yet they still see your advertisement.

This is why as a default when I structure a display campaign, I immediately ignore mobile games as delivery method. Additionally, when I’m managing a campaign I am specifically searching for apps that are getting more than 25% click through rates. The average campaign only get’s between 1-15% of a CTR so if it’s anything beyond that, it’s a red alert to me that they’re purposely designing ads to be clicked accidentally so they can generate more money.

Marketing Agencies Charge You

This was something that I felt as a challenge working as a director trying to manage a team. Obviously, you want your employees to be happy and love where they work. However, it quickly became apparent to me that not too many people have the same work ethic that I do. So much time gets lost in the day through conversation, team lunches, training, meetings, and company outings. This is why I set up my business as the one and only person behind it. All those things I mentioned, those cost money, and at the end of every two weeks you have to pay your employees a salary (unless you’re subcontracting).

Marketing agencies specifically structure their pricing for this regularly incurred cost of doing business, whereas working with me there’s none of that. I’m 100% dedicated to doing a good job and enjoy what I do. I have no overhead compared to an agency that needs an office and supplies for its team. This is why I can keep my pricing extremely competitive and offer even more to my clients.

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