Search Engine Optimization, Facebook Ads, Google Analytics, Social Media Marketing, the list goes on. Digital marketing is the future of small businesses in Australia and is necessary for success.
According to a 2021 report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), digital advertising spending grew 24.2% in 2020/2021, with the industry worth an estimated $11 billion. Digital marketing is an essential part of running a business, however, it’s not always straightforward or easy to get it right.
When a small business owner is approached by an online marketing agency claiming to be experts in all of the above for a fraction of the cost of a legit, established agency, it’s understandable that they may feel inclined to sign a contract with the cheapest. option.
Jerry Hoekman, digital marketing specialist at Mandurah-based IPS Management Consultant, says he’s seen too often small business owners who lost their life savings to a marketing agency that couldn’t deliver the promised results.
“Far too many people from the Mandurah community come to me, it’s heartbreaking to see small business owners spending time and money on their business only for them to fail,” Mr Hoekman said.
“I’ve had small businesses that have gone to two or three agencies, and none of them have ever delivered results. For start-ups with a limited budget, it’s critical that they succeed from first attempt.”
Lisa Legena, spokeswoman for the Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC), says this theme of start-ups trusting unqualified marketing agencies is not an uncommon story.
“Unfortunately, some small business owners can get caught up in contracts that don’t deliver more customers, or worse, fall victim to unscrupulous suppliers who deliberately mislead them, resulting in high costs for no results.”
Often business owners lack the knowledge of the problem or what they are trying to achieve with their digital marketing, to communicate it clearly to an agency.
“When you listen to one of these agencies, they’ll say things you never thought of before and it sounds very promising, but you don’t know if they’ll get enough clients. Small business owners don’t understand the problem, so don’t realize when an agency is overpromising,” Hoekman said.
“You have to be a professional with a university degree or qualifications. An agency with a team of specialists is a good sign, or go through a one man band that contracts out specialists,” Hoekman added.
Ms. Legena provided additional advice for small business owners on what to look for when engaging with digital marketing agencies.
“Our advice is to do your research to understand what marketing support you need, don’t rush into signing with an agency that promises incredible results, and be extremely careful before entering into long-term deals or handing over ownership of your social media accounts or website to a third party.”
Before engaging with a potential marketing agency, SBDC says small businesses can set themselves up for a successful outcome by:
- Develop a fundamental understanding of the different aspects of marketing, so you know what you’re paying for.
- Get recommendations from other small businesses who have had a good experience with a marketing agency.
- Ask the agency about their experience working with companies in your industry and ask for details about their cost structure and how they will charge you.
- Discuss exactly what results you can expect from your investment. Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Be extremely careful before entering into long-term contracts or locking in arrangements.
- Retain ownership of social media accounts.