When prospects come in, we have to vet them too. Being in it for the long term means we need dreamers with good dreams.
Here are red flags I’ve accumulated on the way, as I handle the biz dev at the agency and it’s the first touchpoint, and after NOT trusting my gut, I have a few experiences to share that may help you use your team’s resources on the right kind of client.
- Red Flag No. 1: They want to be first to market and it trumps everything. It is number one pain point and it trumps their launch strategy. They are short-sighted as none of these stand-alone: branding, messaging, UX design and development, original content to rank, paid search, lead generation, earned media, and social media marketing to name a few. From history, I say this is a bad move. We want to be second or third to market, so we can learn what they did right; But mainly what they did wrong so we can avoid those mistakes. What their predecessor did right doesn’t worry me as much because they didn’t have the Austin-based advertising agency Rock Candy Media having their back.
- Red Flag No. 2: A startup comes in and tells me they are the “Uber of” something. All of our clients are in traditional, very competitive verticals and they are industry disrupters at heart. But if they say they have no competitors they are usually delusional, and I can understand it. Your baby is like no one else’s…until they are.
- Red Flag No. 3: Two guys that just landed a gazillion dollars come in and I ask them what their role is. If it’s anything like ‘we are best friends’ or ‘we both do <the same thing>’, I usually cannot devote my senior team to them. I’d rather take on the prospects that have the humility to partner with someone in their ‘weaker’ areas. That is what I consider smart.
- Red Flag No. 4: Anyone that comes into our digital advertising agency and tells me their only marketing spend is Google Adwords. That means they have a fixed cost for one search term, and the only SEM team I know to optimize daily is the one at Rock Candy Media. Search Engine Marketing companies have a bad rap, and they deserve it. The ones that only do SEO generally take the broadest search term – which is also the most expensive – and just set it up to run. That’s why a storied HVAC company we work with will end up with bogus leads, and get calls asking for plumbing. Also, it also tells me that if we grow their business (doing our job), it would require them to add another fixed cost to their budget. I ask: if everyone can use Google Adwords than why isn’t everyone rich?
- A failsafe: If an online advertising, full-service in-house team markets their own brand well (earned media, Google search domination, content strategy, email marketing, digital ads, conversion rates, etc) you’ll be in better hands than a template agency or one that “just does X service.” While it may sound like they are specialists, most of them had a great success story in 2012 and they are married to it, and all their clients get put into the same mold. We’re called the anti-template for a reason. We love a challenge and there is nothing challenging than a pre-set mold. That tells me you do not listen to your client’s differentials. At Rock Candy Media, a digital marketing firm, you can come in at any point of your growth cycle and we’ll shorten your sales cycle.