The Ideal Marketing Agency Doesn’t Exist

Fast, cheap, or good- you can only pick 2.

It’s midnight. I’ve been in the office all day and I’m famished. I had coffee and a donut for “lunch” during back-to-back client meetings.

The exhausting day was worth it though. We finally signed with a client we’ve been negotiating with for months. Celebrations are in order, aren’t they?

I think about my dinner options:

Fast food. It’ll be quick and cheap, but I’m in celebration mode and a greasy burger isn’t going to do the trick.

I could pick up some groceries on the way home and recreate that dish I saw on TV last week. Mmmmmm….that would sure hit the spot, but I’m in no mood to cook and clean up for hours.

My last option is to grab a reservation at my favorite sushi joint. No manual labor involved for me, but it’s definitely going to put a dent in my wallet.

My dinner choices above reflect the age-old frustration of decision-making.

Rarely is there a situation where the stars align and there is an option that meets every single one of my desires.

As an agency owner, companies come to me on a regular basis in search of marketing solutions. As my dinner options above have pros and cons, so do the services that my (or any) agency offers.

It’s up to you to make the best decision for your business.

Know your marketing priorities

Prioritizing your marketing needs can help you pick the right agency to meet your needs. Let’s consider the following common business limitations.

Scenario 1- Good and Cheap

You need quality work for an international campaign, but your marketing budget is running on fumes. The good news is, this is possible. The bad news is- you can’t have it tomorrow. If you don’t have the money to put down for the agency’s usual rates, they may well take you on. This could come with the understanding that your work won’t be in the front of the line. In the digital age, slow turnaround time is rarely acceptable. The back of the line is not an ideal spot.

Scenario 2- Good and Fast

Your CMO just hatched a great idea for a social media marketing campaign, but it needs to launch next week. Consider artwork creation, copywriting, media buying and ad scheduling, and you’ve got a month’s work that needs to be done yesterday.

My answer to clients in this situation? We’d be happy to help! As this requires overtime of my team, it’s going to cost me (and therefore you) big bucks. That is, if we want to stay in business long. Most clients are happy to pay for expedited projects when they know it’s going to provide a good ROI.

Scenario 3- Fast and Cheap

Got a tight deadline and minimal budget? Get an account and outsource the work for pennies on the dollar. Or find a local freelancer who has the skills for the project.

Understand that freelancers don’t have resources to understand your company or objectives. You’ll get the design on time. But cross your fingers and hope it will match up with the image your brand is working so hard to retain.

There is a way to find your unicorn

Every marketing manager wants all three. Unfortunately, finding an agency that is Good, Cheap, and Fast is practically impossible. There is one way to compromise a little on cheap and fast to get your ideal outcome though:

By hiring an agency on retainer, you will have a whole team of professionals working to reach your marketing goals for the long haul.

Here’s why having an agency on retainer works so well for companies:

  • You get a steady flow of exceptional work.
  • You develop a relationship that will enhance their understanding of your business objectives.
  • You get a better rate because they can plan and manage their resources.
  • Plus, they’ll be more willing to work with you to meet deadlines on unforeseen, but urgent, projects.

Your agency should value its long-term clients and be proud of the value it provides. The team should ask the important questions and care about the needs of your brand. They should happily explain their process and keep you in the loop.

Find an agency that’s not flexible on “good.”


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