Digital Marketing Agency for Startups: Expectations Vs. Reality

Puneet Sharma

November 26th, 2018

Startups, funded or not, face a hard time on-boarding digital marketing agencies for their online marketing initiatives. A mere 13% of startups invest into marketing consultants or hire a digital marketing agency as found by this survey in 2017 by Colin Skinner. And even the 13% who on-board agencies, majority of startups are not happy with the services being rendered by these agencies.

Is this because of low budget constraints of startups? Absolutely not, since there are numerous agencies providing services at low costs as well. The problem on the other hand persists, due to the gap in expectations of startups vs poor understanding of the same by agencies. These expectations can be broadly classified into two stages of servicing, namely, ‘Before Contract Signing’ and ‘After Contract Signing’.

‘Before Contract Signing’

Expectation: Fresh Ideas and Industry Insights
Reality: Portfolio and Company Presentations

Digital marketing agencies fail to impress startups in early presentations as they keep the focus on themselves rather than bringing researched and data backed insights and thoughts to the table. Since each startup is trying to do something new and innovative, they rarely feel aligned with previous performance and existing clients of digital marketing companies. Also startups have limited bandwidth of employees, they highly value data driven insights that would help them scale with the help of online marketing. Agencies and their sales representatives should explore and present factual insights in their very first meetings to catch the attention of startups. As the old saying goes, ‘First impression is the last impression’.

Expectation: Proposals that focus on goals & targets
Reality: Proposals with list & cost of services

Rarely you will find a proposal that carves out a neat road map for achieving the goals and targets of the startup. Digital marketing companies and their representatives fail to align suggested activities satisfactorily with the targets and budgets of the organisation. The root cause, sales representatives have no training for aligning activities with the aim to be achieved, in addition to their lack of interest in doing research and analysis for the startup’s prospective market. Pressure to achieve sales targets, is also one of the core factors contributing to low quality and trivial proposals. Sales personnel should be trained to build proposals that put forward a clear blueprint for achieving goals and the suggested budgets for the same.

‘After Contract Signing’

Expectation: Instant project kick-off
Reality: Delayed rendering of services

Two things that make a startup successful are agility and speed. Most of the digital marketing companies turn a blind eye to these factors. Also since they start the research and planning needed to deliver online marketing services post contract signing, initial days, and in some cases weeks are lost to the most non-vital tasks needed to kickoff the online marketing campaigns. Not to mention that startups lose both time and money over this period. If only agencies adopt a more proactive approach for research and planning before contract signing can they achieve a shorter turn around time in starting digital marketing campaigns.

Expectation: Regular and weekly performance tracking and reporting
Reality: Monthly excel sheets with trivial metrics

Startups adopt a lean strategy, and by doing so they track performances at a weekly level, with some of them doing it on a daily basis as well. On the other hand digital marketing companies due to their conventional monthly cycles, generate reports only if demanded by clients at the end of the month. Majority of startups and organisations who have hired agencies, end up building their own performance reports, in which they expense a lot of time and bandwidth. Also reports submitted by agencies are more of a table of summary prepared in excel. With better analytical tools and online performance measuring apps available, agencies should present  reports and data analysis in a more structured fashion. Also reports should outline the gap between the targets and achievements for the concerned period for bench-marking and re-alignment of activities.

Digital marketing companies can use these expectations and map their services accordingly. This will help them in generating more business and render services more proficiently. These expectations can also be used by startups, or rather any business to qualify and select agencies which are better suited for their industries.

If you are a startup or a business, do share any expectations in the comments below that I might have missed out. Also do not shy away from paying a little premium for the right digital marketing services. It really helps in the long term. If you are looking out for a good digital marketing agency, do scroll down and checkout our list of offerings. Thanks.


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