Dangers of Fly By Night Agencies

Damage from the so-called “fly-by-night” agencies are real.  The losses they can cause are dangerous.  It’s not just the loss of money these “hobby” agencies can cause you.  Its time too.

ID a Fly By Night Agency

Three ways to identify a “fly-by night” or hobby agency.

When you hire an agent to help you with your advertising, you are looking for expertise.  You are getting help for the one area of your business which could mean the difference between making money and shutting the doors.  Here are three great ways to tell if you have a “hobby” company.

Check the References

First, check their references.  Graduating from a prestigious university or an upper level degree program somewhere is not enough.  Find out with whom your agent has had success in the past.   Experience alone is not a deciding factor, but years in multiple marketing disciplines can give you a clue of what to expect.  It’s not enough to be “in advertising”, its the success earned you want.

Weak Depth=Fly By Night

Second, what do they do.  Some agencies have little idea how the internet and social media works.  Others are clueless about mainstream media like television or radio.  Still others are event experts.  And there is the laziest of all agencies, the media buying service.  These guys attempt to sell you on the idea of media buying as a true science.

It’s not.

If it were then the guys with the most money would always win.  Remember “New” Coke? No amount of marketing money in the world was going to save it.  Apple TV hasn’t exactly caused a run to the registers.

Fly by night agencies have exaggerated capabilities.  Ask the hard questions before you hire them..

Fly By Night=Unreliable

Third, a “hobby” agency may ask you for money upfront.  They don’t have the cash or the stature to have credit with media companies where you want to do business.  They sell you on the idea of a “retainer” when in reality its their cash flow coming from your pocket.  This is different than getting a scope of work estimate for a particularly intricate amount of work.  Or they may offer you an insanely low rate just to get in the door.

Social media and the availability of audio, video, and photo editing tools has made a number of people hang out their shingle as a “marketing company” or ad agency.  The problem is the same tools used as an equalizer can also fool you.

For example, there are a number of companies advertising “instant websites” on television.  I saw one in baseball’s All Star Game in July.  Click here, add a few photos, click there and within minutes you’ll be ranking high in Google.

What a crock!

But that expensive TV ad and the cool graphics looked hot.

Lots of Flash, Low Meat

“Fly by Night” agencies look a lot like that TV ad.  Lots of flash, not much substance.

Inc.com has a great article on questions you should ask yourself when looking you are in the market for help with your marketing.

Reputable agencies will have your top line revenue and serving your current and future customers at the top of their list of questions for you.  “Fly by nights” may start with your ad spend at the top of their proposals.




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