Since I started SixFive Interactive in 2015, I have wrestled a lot with a question: do I want to be a digital marketing agency?
As I’ve grown my business, I have had this question from two sides:
1. Does it benefit me as the owner?
I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of successful marketing agency owners. Several of them have told me, “Tyler, don’t start an agency. If I had to do it over all again, I would have never started one”. Maybe they just don’t want another agency popping up in the small market of London, Ontario. But, many of them have seen quite adamant about this and I trust them when they say it is a difficult business and model with a lot of highs and lows. There is also not much loyalty. If you don’t perform, no matter what reason, the customers are on to the next one or the cheaper offering.
1. Does it benefit the customer?
I’ve dealt with my fair share of customers; beginning as a freelancer and moving into a business owner role. I’ve also watched from afar as digital marketing agencies here in London have stripped money away from optimistic young companies and growing bigger companies without producing the results they need. The truth is, there are a lot of inefficiencies in the traditional marketing agency model. There is also a lot of misinformation and misrepresentation out there. A couple savvy people can quickly design a site, write some content and appear as a fully functioning marketing agency. In even my short time running my business, I have seen countless agencies appear and disappear. It’s hard to tell which ones are actually sustainable, and of course, most importantly, providing results for their clients.
So, let’s take a look at the benefits and cons of a typical digital marketing agency:
- Specialized knowledge
- Experience in what you need
- Can be less costly than hiring
- Access to expensive software and platforms
- Long Onboarding times
- Expensive Overhead built into pricing
- Retainer Fees
- Inefficiencies in their processes lead to problems for your business
- Juggling multiple clients
- Don’t care about your business the way you do
These benefits and cons can be amplified reduced or depending on whether you pick the right agency for you and your business.
One of the big things that I find is a problem with traditional marketing agencies is the lack of transparency both on pricing and operations. Almost everywhere and here in London, Ontario, if you search “digital marketing agency london ontario”, you will get a lot of results. More results than you think you would get. The ones you see on the top are typically well-respected agencies that do great work and have a proven history of producing results for their clients. The further back you go through those search engine results, the less likely that is.
But, consistently through all of these, one thing you don’t find is pricing. Several go as far as pointing out that they keep their pricing confidential. They know their reputation precedes them and they can do this. However, this creates a problem for the customer. Some people would be shocked to know that many of these agencies require upwards of $40,000 just to start a relationship with them. Much less, get the work and results they need.
There, of course, is a discovery process for every relationship between a customer and a marketing agency. There are also a ton of inefficiencies. Often, there needs to be several meetings before work even goes underway. The scope needs to be defined, a proposal needs to be created, negotiation proceeds, and before too long, a month has passed before the work has even started. In a fast moving world, this is tough to swallow for customers.
Sometimes, customers just want the work done. The creative relationship tactics that come with traditional agencies don’t always offer the best value. Are you starting a new site? Maybe you just want to get 10 targeted articles to get you some organic search results. New campaign? Maybe you just want to get a professional landing page up quickly.
With traditional digital marketing agencies, these processes take too long, are too costly, and don’t produce the results that you actually need. Or, the agencies put hours of work into a custom proposal that goes nowhere. They have just wasted hours and time they could be making money into a loss. In the end, both the customers and the agencies often lose.
There is a lot more to be said about this and I plan to expand on this much more in-depth. Right now, I have one foot in the traditional marketing agency model and one foot in what I think will be the new way marketing takes place moving forward. We have already seen the rise of platforms like https://www.upwork.com, https://www.fiverr.com/, and https://99designs.ca/. There are a lot of problems with these too, but the customers are showing that these agile, pay for what you get and want platforms are the future. And it makes perfect sense.
So a lot of people ask what we are doing here at SixFive. We have spent a lot of time learning and understanding traditional digital marketing agency models and these newer platforms which provide services almost like shopping online. We are building a beautiful, middle ground between both. One that promotes quality at a price point that benefits everyone. We want to succeed. We want our workers to succeed. And we want our customers to succeed.
So, as we roll out a lot more in the upcoming months, we hope you check it out. No matter what, we will always keep our original mantra: Let’s Succeed Together.