Choosing a marketing agency is a lot like choosing a lawyer or an attorney. You need a partner you can trust to treat your business like their own.
The right marketing agency will help a business reach new customers and grow its sales. The wrong marketing agency can drain a business dry and sully its brand.
To make matters worse, professional marketers are notorious for making inflated promises and preying on the naivete of their clients.
With so much at stake, how do businesses choose from a sea of marketing providers that all look the same?
In this article I will outline nine reasons that businesses are abandoning the old marketing agency model and hiring their local Ethical Digital Agent instead.
1. Personal relationships
Nobody likes dealing with a faceless corporation, but unfortunately that is the experience of working with many marketing agencies.
Even small boutique firms will appoint account managers who come and go and lack decision-making authority.
We would all prefer to hire someone we know and trust, but we rarely have that choice when working with a traditional marketing agency.
The Ethical Digital business model gives business owners the opportunity to hire the individual they want to work with, without sacrificing the benefits of working with a well-resourced agency.
Every Ethical Digital Agent has the final say on price and deliverables, so there is no upper management dictating the terms. Even when there is not a pre-existing relationship with the agent, business owners appreciate working directly with the boss and building a rapport that isn’t subject to the staffing changes of an agency.
2. Skin in the game
One of the biggest problems with traditional agencies is that the people doing the work face bad incentives.
A typical pay-per-click specialist earns the same paycheck whether a client is happy or not. In fact, it only makes their life easier when a difficult client cancels.
I’m not saying agency employees don’t work hard; I’m just saying they are not always incentivized to work hard. Human nature being what it is, the client is often left with less than the employee’s best effort.
Unlike the workers at a traditional agency, Ethical Digital Agents are not employees. They have full ownership over their business and reap the rewards of their own hard work.
Likewise if they do poorly, they face the financial and reputational repercussions.
For motivation, accountability, and incentive alignment, there is no substitute for skin in the game. Nobody understands this better than business owners, which is another reason why businesses look for an Ethical Digital Agent to handle their marketing.
3. Ample resources
In some ways, Ethical Digital resembles a franchise business model. My team and I focus on strengthening the brand and supplying enterprise-level resources to support our growing network of independent agents.
Those resources include software licenses, SOPs, administrative support, and one of the most comprehensive marketing platforms on the market.
We don’t go out of our way to reinvent the wheel, but we have built a suite of integrated tools in-house, including client dashboards and a robust landing page builder.
The upshot for businesses is that they get the care and attention of a boutique agency backed by the resources of a large marketing firm, all at a near-freelancer cost.
4. Lower cost
There are different ways to cut costs, and not all of them are a good idea. The worst place to cut is the cost of labor, because that is the factor with the biggest impact on the quality of the work.
Yet agencies seeking to be more competitive will often outsource or automate the work of specialists. Even worse, I know of some agencies that have their salespeople managing PPC and social accounts!
I have many Google Ads accounts connected to my MCC that are managed by other agencies. The last time I peeked in I was aghast at how many accounts are using automated “Smart” campaigns. In effect, these agencies are charging their clients a monthly fee to do nothing.
That is what cost-cutting looks like at traditional agencies. The result is that frugal businesses get shoddy work that fails to perform and sometimes even damages their brand.
Now consider how Ethical Digital is able to achieve savings of 20-30% while maintaining some of the highest quality standards in the industry. We do this by cutting overhead and automating or outsourcing the jobs of administrators rather than the specialists doing the work.
In fact, only 15% of any contract with an Ethical Digital Agent goes to cover administrative costs. The rest is allocated to factors that directly impact the quality of the work.
5. Top talent
Agencies distribute their client accounts in order to balance the workload among their employees.
In my own experience as a PPC specialist at a major marketing firm, account managers had very little say over which specialist would get a client account. Everything was left to the luck of the draw.
When developing the Ethical Digital business model, I wanted to make sure that agents could choose who they work with. By hand-picking their team, your Ethical Digital Agent is able to build strong working relationships that ultimately redound to your success as a client.
It also makes Ethical Digital a meritocracy where the cream rises to the top. Not be harsh, but there are enough hacks and slackers on Upwork and Fiverr. At Ethical Digital, we only want the top talent.
6. Deep bench
Every marketing channel is complex in its own way, and any so-called “marketing jack-of-all-trades” is sure to be a master of none. That is why successful marketing is a team sport. Every part has to work together in an integrative fashion so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
That integrative approach is a big reason why businesses hire full-service agencies instead of cobbling together specialists from Upwork. A team needs more than players; it needs a coach to play cohesively.
Yet no one wants to pay for resources they are not using, which is why a flexible workforce is the ideal solution for businesses focused on maximizing the return on their marketing investment.
Ethical Digital teams are formed on a client-by-client basis, which means that no matter the size of the project, an Ethical Digital Agent can scale a team of professionals to meet the unique needs of their client.
7. Local insights
Local businesses prefer to work with local marketers who have insights into their market. Because of the distributed nature of Ethical Digital, businesses can find an Ethical Digital Agent anywhere in the world.
While our headquarters is in Phoenix, our agents work where they please – from their homes, offices, coworking spots, even the beach!
One advantage of working with a large, established marketing agency is that with size comes stability. Big firms have the resources to invest in things like redundancy and refunds when mistakes occur.
Many risk-averse business owners will forgo working with a more nimble and creative agency out of an abundance of caution, even when that means paying more for less.
Our business model is unique in the way it provides complete accountability without impinging on the independence of our agents. We ensure refunds when an agent is at fault, and we intervene when necessary to resolve any disputes to the satisfaction of the client.
The name “Ethical Digital” was inspired by my experience at a large marketing firm where I felt the client’s best interest was not always being served.
It’s not that the company or the people working there were bad – quite the opposite, I had the best colleagues in the world. But there were just certain policies and practices – widespread in the industry – that I wanted to change.
One of those practices is the way clients are kept in the dark about important issues related to their account. It is all too easy to hide mistakes, over-promise, and make excuses, which is why there is so little trust in the digital marketing industry.
At Ethical Digital, there is really only one Commandment that all our agents must follow: Tell the Truth. Any agent caught lying to their client is barred from using the Ethical Digital name, platform, resources, or network.
How do you hire an Ethical Digital Agent?
If you own a business, there is no shortage of people who want to manage your marketing. You probably get calls and emails about it on a weekly basis.
Not all marketers are equal, but if they are backed by the Ethical Digital brand, you can trust that they are among the best in the field.
Every Ethical Digital Agent is an independent business owner, and their clients are their own. To make sure you end up with the right agent, you should sign up directly through their personal agent profile.
For example, my agent profile is kevin.ethicaldigital.com. If you visit that page, click the red button, and sign up, your account will be in my book of business.
If you meet an Ethical Digital Agent or find one you like online, reach out and ask them to direct you to their profile. Whoever you choose to work with, you will be in the hands of a qualified professional.