Pardon my French – it’s honesty time. I can’t count how many times we would get a call from a potential client, who had hired a web designer and then was disappointed in the work they’ve received. Unfortunately, things like this happen in any industry, but when it comes to marketing a business, you don’t want to make a mistake that costs you thousands of dollars and wasted time (which is also money, as we know it). Here are the 3 key things to keep in mind before you hire your next marketing provider.
Rule #1 – Ask questions
Communication is everything. I do believe that half of the world’s problems wouldn’t happen, if only people would pay more attention to communication. Business is just like any other relationship – it requires boundaries and it requires understanding from both sides. Being a part of marketing industry for over a decade, I’ve come to LOVE agreements. This is where your relationship with your marketing agency begins. Read the agreement, and make sure you understand what it all means. Remember, your marketing agreement serves both a legal role, but also the common sense understanding of how your relationship with your marketing provider will go. What exactly you are getting and how much it will cost. If the agreement sounds too “lawyer-y” that you can’t even understand what it all means (happens way too often) – it’s not good. Make sure there’s a good balance between the legal talk and the simple milestone+deliverable explanation.
Rule #2 – Do your homework
Everything comes with a price. If you are looking to build a new website, you probably will be able to find a web designer/contractor on Craigslist for under $3,000. You might also get a website built for $25,000 or just for under $10,000.
That’s the homework you need to do! Get at least 3 to 5 quotes to compare. Notice the subtle tell-tale signs such as how fast the company replied to you with. How long it took them to put together a quote. How much time they spent with you, asking questions (if they don’t ask too many questions – it’s also not a good sign).
Get a clear understanding on what exactly you are getting. Don’t get blinded by the lower-priced proposal – ensure you know how many revisions you are getting for your website. How many design mock ups will be provided. And how much time the company will spend on your website (including their hourly rate).
Finding a golden middle is what we like. (But we might be biased.) If you go with the cheapest proposal – there might be a “case of cutting corners” (most likely). On the other hand, sometimes “cutting corners” could be good – shaving off some of the unnecessary elements of your site, so you don’t have to pay for the fancy research and staging you don’t need, and the features you are not going to use. Going with a custom website design will allow you to choose exactly what your company needs at this stage of its growth.
Important: Be open-minded while you are doing your homework. Check the facts, but also feel with your heart and use your gut feelings. At the end of the day, you want to make sure you trust your marketing provider. If there’s no trust, this relationship is not going to work, not matter how hard [both sides] try.
Rule #3 – Ask more questions
One of the most important aspects of any relationship is managing expectations. If everyone is clear on what’s expected and what’s provided – this will be a great foundation for success. Ask your marketing provider about the exact steps that are going to happen from the moment you sign the agreement and when your website goes live.
- How many hours are going to be spent in meetings, and how many hours are going to be spent on the actual website design/coding/testing
- How does the company do project management (how will they keep you in the loop?)
- What is the timeline for the project and how accurate the timeline is
- (!) What is going to be your involvement in the project and how closely you will be collaborating (it often comes as a surprise that website design is a highly collaborative process, especially if you value a personal approach in your company. Creating a website that resonates with people on a much more meaningful, deeper level takes time, and some digging into. So your involvement will be required.)
I always say, if it’s not a win-win, it’s not a victory. It sucks when someone gets burned on a bad experience (this goes both ways – hiring a sucky marketing company, and serving a sucky client). So I do believe, with a nice balance of love and assertiveness good work always prevails.
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