How You Can Avoid Partnering with the Wrong Marketing Agency

How can you tell if entering a partnership with an agency is going to be a fruitful collaboration – or a stress-inducing nightmare? When companies hire agencies to help them market their business, these relationships can be productive, pleasant, and effective, but only when expectations are aligned and communication is flowing. We’ve collected all the warning signs that signal a bad fit. Pay attention to these red flags in order to avoid disappointing results.  

They don’t understand your business.
You’re paying an agency to solve your problems. If they don’t understand the life sciences industry or your unique business needs, how can they help you? Make sure whichever agency you select has a team, not just an individual, with deep, relevant science marketing experience.

They use the bait and switch.
A good agency communicates well internally and provides you with a cohesive, consistent experience from start to finish. If your initial contact is with a team that really seems to understand your marketing’s pain points and objectives, but then the team that actually executes the work is on an entirely different wavelength – that’s a problem.

They push one tactic instead of evaluating a range of possible solutions.
An integrated marketing agency has the capability to use a broad set of tools. If you get the sense that an agency is biased toward one tactic over another, it may be because that particular tactic is what the agency knows best. But a really good agency will step back to look at the bigger picture and help you find the solution that’s right for your particular situation.

They aren’t upfront with their billing practices and blindside you with nickel-and-dime charges.
The truth is that every agency is in business to make a fair profit, but how they make their money can vary. If an agency is not clear about scope of work in the initial agreement, clients may be surprised to get unexpected charges. Before signing off on any partnership, both client and agency should discuss in great detail what’s covered and what is subject to additional charges.

They make promises that sound too good to be true.
Marketing results vary because every client is different, and every situation is different; but in general, there is no magic bullet. You’re coming to an agency for their expertise and guidance, but out-of-this-world promises may mean that they are ignoring factors outside of anyone’s control. If you’re promised results that are too good to be true, they probably are.

We pass on this knowledge not to scare you, but to impress upon you the importance of choosing an agency that understands your needs and will work with you as a solid partner the whole way through.

But don’t take it from us––here are real-life stories from clients who have had bad experiences with agencies. (Names have been omitted to protect privacy.)

“We needed website copy written but the agency we worked with posted what we provided them on the website and in the collateral verbatim. Beyond not understanding the subject, the agency didn’t attempt to correct anything, including sentences that were clearly written by non-native English speakers.”

“The agency who came in and did the “dog and pony” show were not the team that worked on the account. We bought into a relationship with the agency based on a great meeting where the team really seemed to understand the pain points and the objectives, and then when time came for the first kick-off call, none of those people were on the execution team.”

“We were looking to hire people with SEO writing expertise and encountered people whose SEO practice was to look for common words and use them as much as they could. That’s not SEO, that’s just stabbing in the dark.”

“We had been working with an agency to optimize our website and things were going well. Then, we started noticing traffic was dropping somewhat and tried calling our agency contact. Even though we could reach the main company line, our contact hadn’t been in to work in a while, and no one seemed to know if he still worked there or would be coming back.”

“We had received a full SEO and keyword report (100+ pages), but when trying to digest it and get advice on what our next steps should be, the company just dropped the ball and didn’t respond.”

“Early on in a project, we felt like we had really good rapport with our agency and were moving in the right direction, together. As they got much closer to completion of the deliverables, we noticed a sudden enforcement of change orders over every small adjustment we asked to make. We understood that there was a need for certain edits, and the money wasn’t the issue, but what began as a friendly relationship became strained. It really made us wary of moving forward with any agencies after that, because we felt blindsided and didn’t want to go through that again.”

If you want to work with an agency that understands science and your business, contact us. We promise not to overpromise.

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