By the time you’ve read this, you’ll understand that not all creative agencies are the same (some aren’t even creative), and how to spot the wannabes, the zombie agencies (as we like to call them), and the swindlers. Finally, you’ll realise that, yes, it is expensive to hire professionals… but hiring amateurs… that’s a whole other level of pain.
"The wannabes are easy to spot. They generally have the same cookie-cutter pink and beige Instagram feed. They promise guaranteed results using a secret formula"
Red Flag: The Wannabes
The wannabe is generally working from their bedroom masking as a ‘marketing agency’. In reality, they started the ‘agency’ three weeks ago after watching a life-changing TikTok video. In this video, a smug young influencer sit’s perched on the bonnet of a sports car in Miami, and confidently exclaims “I built a seven-figure digital marketing agency in one year with only a laptop and an internet connection” (or some other outrageous clickbait claim).
The wannabes are easy to spot. They generally have the same cookie-cutter pink and beige Instagram feed. They promise guaranteed results using a secret formula (courtesy of the ebook they bought from the aforementioned Miami douchebag). Lastly, these folks have zero portfolios, but if they do, look very very closely; it’s likely just made up of templated Shopify websites with fake company names designed to fool you into thinking they were real clients.
If your small business is important to you, steer well clear. It’s not worth it.
Red Flag: Zombie Agencies
These are not so easy to spot. They have been around for years. They likely have a decent enough website, some sort of portfolio, and even social reviews. Their sales pitch is often well-practiced… filling you with confidence.
So why “zombie”? It’s because these sorts of agencies are still operating like it’s 2003, not 2023. Slowly dragging one foot behind them as they ever-so-slowly move forward toward the technological advances of 2004.
"Constant bug fixes, security patches, and lackluster designs… That’s what these guys offer on the web front"
Scratch the surface and the telltale signs are there if you know what to look for. Their web team will still be using WordPress and singing from the rooftops that this platform is ‘used by 60% of the internet’… Like that’s a reason to ignore the fact that it’s the most bloated, slow, outdated, hackable open-source platform on the market that will cause your small business serious pain for years to come. Constant bug fixes, security patches, and lackluster designs… That’s what these guys offer on the web front.
The zombie agencies always tend to be a few years behind the eight ball on the video marketing front too… these guys will still be saying TikTok is just for teenagers. They produce marketing videos using some outdated, oversized TV camera on a massive tripod to fool you into thinking they are shooting a high-production-value video… but it’ll still end up looking like a bad infomercial with cringe-worthy graphics and awkward interviews.
In case of a zombie agency attack - RUN!
Red Flag: The Swindlers
Unlike the wannabes and the zombies, who do what they do because of a lack of knowing better, the swindlers know exactly what they are doing.
They aim to scam as many small business owners as possible, as fast as possible.
They come in the form of online-only ‘alternatives’ to local marketing agencies. They offer things like ‘unlimited graphic design’, or ‘a year’s worth of videos in two days', that sort of nonsense.
These outfits have big budgets, and their websites and socials will be perfectly curated, modern, and professional. Their portfolios will be absolutely amazing. Spotting them is still easy enough though - just remember this… if it’s too good to be true, it is!
Unlimited graphic design for $1000 a month sounds great right? How about unlimited disappointment for $12,000? That’s what you’ll get! All these platforms want to do is lock you into a 12-month contract, and then outsource your design briefs to the lowest bidder… normally that comes in the form of an overseas graphic design ‘sweat shop’ where they churn out the same templates over and over and over again, passing it off as original work designed just for your business.
Save your money. It’s not worth it.
Let’s wrap this up
It's important to mention that these points are just a general guide. There are many amazing agencies in Australia and across the globe. We proudly count ourselves among them :)
If you’re looking to partner with a creative agency that isn’t a wannabe zombie scam artist, then do check out Monday Media. We’re real people, in a real studio, in a real place called Joondalup in Western Australia.
We’d love to hear from you :)