Why We “Get No Respect” in Digital Marketing Services: Questions to Ask When Hiring an Agency

Why We “Get No Respect” in Digital Marketing Services: Questions to Ask When Hiring an Agency

The famous words of Rodney Dangerfield seem like the most appropriate way to kick off this post, “I don’t get no respect.” (For the purposes of this post, replace the “I” with “digital marketing services.”)

I have been frustrated over the years by the lack of respect our industry gets. In this post, I dig into why I think digital marketing gets such disrespect, and how this should factor into your decision to choose a digital marketing agency.

The Dilemma

Over the last year, for both personal and professional reasons, I have worked with people in the construction and legal space. In dealing with those trades, it struck me what we’re willing to just accept from those industries that people don’t accept when it comes to digital marketing services.

At least in the Sioux Falls market, construction projects are never on schedule and rarely meet deadlines. For this, there is no punishment; we just have to accept it. Why?

I am always cautious about engaging our lawyers because I know they will bill me for any time my request takes. I need to make sure it’s worth it, and I’m clear about what I need. That being said, we never question the cost of legal services. Why?

Digital Marketing Hurts Itself

There are no formal industry standards or education for the digital marketing space, which I think is one of the main reasons we can’t “get no respect.” In the construction and legal industries, there are formal education and licensure programs that take great investments of both time and money. Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a “digital marketing expert.”

I think we use the excuse that the space is changing so quickly. By the time an institution developed a digital marketing program, it would already be out of date. I don’t accept this excuse. At 9 Clouds, the tools we use are constantly updating, but the basic marketing principles and key performance indicators (KPIs) we adhere to are not. This is the same for any industry: the tools are constantly evolving, but the basic principles and methodology stay the same.

We need to focus less on the tech and more on the methodology, developing and supporting our marketing programs accordingly.

Finally, I think we do ourselves a disservice by letting clients creep on scope. It is an epidemic in our industry. We end up giving away our expertise, which is our product and value. No wonder people don’t want to pay us what we’re worth. We give away our services for free and, as a result, devalue what we do.

Clients Are At Fault, Too 

In no way does our industry and the lack of formal licensure programs take the full blame for how we’re perceived. If you are reading this and are someone who hires digital marketing service providers, you contribute to the problem as well. What questions are you asking, and what research are you doing when hiring for marketing services?

In this day and age, we read reviews before purchasing a toothbrush. People looking for digital marketing services need to do due diligence. If you don’t and hire a bad digital marketing partner, it isn’t the industry’s fault. There are lots of fantastic digital marketing service providers in the world. Do the work to find them!

Here are a few questions you should be asking when reviewing digital marketing service providers:

  • Who are your references, and can we reach out to them?
    • Like you would for any potential employee applicant, get references for your service provider, and reach out to them. If they can’t provide references, that’s a red flag.
  • What case studies and/or examples of client success do you have?
    • Hopefully these are what drew you to the provider in the first place, but if not, ask for case studies and examples of client success. Review them to make sure the results of that work matches with the results you’re looking for from hiring the provider.
  • How do you measure the success of your work?
    • The answer should be quantitative, not qualitative. At 9 Clouds, we are focused on data and will not let opinion or emotion dictate marketing strategy if the data isn’t there to back it up. Don’t be snowed by creative jargon. Get the data points.
  • What certifications does your team have?
    • Although there is no state licensure for a digital marketing professional, there are several recognized certification programs in the digital marketing space. Confirm which certifications the provider has; again, make sure they match up with the services you’re looking for. The Google certifications are especially relevant in this day and age: Analytics, AdWords, Partner, etc.

It’s Time to Take Responsibility

At 9 Clouds, I’m tired of the value and quality of our services being questioned by leads because of the reputation of our industry. Yes, there are snake oil salesmen in our industry, but there are shady players in every industry. There are bad contractors in construction and shifty lawyers in the legal profession, but those examples don’t represent the whole industry.

As consumers of anything, we have to take responsibility and do the research necessary to make the best purchase — whether it’s for your television or your digital marketing partner.

I’ve given you questions to ask prospective digital marketing partners. If you don’t use them and hire a digital marketing company anyway, it’s not the industry’s fault if they turn out to be bad. You didn’t do your homework!

At 9 Clouds, we work with great clients who serve as references. We’ve got case studies that show the return on investment (ROI) of our work with data. We are data nerds; everything we do is because of proven, tested results. We have certifications across platforms and keep them up to date.

Learn more about what we’re working on, the digital marketing space, and what a good digital marketing partner looks like by subscribing to our blog and staying in touch.