Is It Time To Fire Your Digital Marketing Agency?

By: Thomas Buttino

Published: January 15, 2022

Blog, Business Growth Strategy, Digital Business Assets

Why Hiring A Digital Marketing Agency Should Be The Last Part Of Your Entrepreneur Journey…

There are going to be a lot of pissed off people who read this. Change my mind, but…

Imagine hiring an employee who, on day one, said they would work incredibly hard, but could never guarantee any results whatsoever from their efforts. Strange, but I guess that can be argued about all employees. There’s risk in hiring the wrong people.

Now, imagine the next words out of this person’s mouth is them setting their own pay schedule…no questions asked. Oh, and they’ll need their first paycheck on day one, not the next pay period like everyone else.

“Don’t worry though”, they say. “I’ve done this for years and always deliver for my employers.”

Huh? No guarantee of tangible results, yet everyone else has gotten them, and the pay is non-negotiable? What kind of business model is that, and who would ever buy into it?

Well, me for one. That’s right. I’ve personally worked with numerous agencies over the years and I can say unequivocally that it’s rarely, if ever, worth the time, stress, and money.

Don’t get me wrong, not all agencies out there are a waste of time or money. I’ve worked with plenty of 3rd party vendors who’ve delivered, but rarely are those the ones in the digital marketing space.

Ok, that was a harsh opening, and I don’t want you to think this entire post is about trashing an entire industry so let’s dive a little deeper and see what I mean…

What Is A Digital Marketing Agency?

Most digital marketing agencies are a highly specialized person, or small group of people assembled to help businesses grow one or two areas of their operations. Sometimes they focus solely on growing a business’ social media presence, or running their ads, or helping write copy. Either way, it’s a very narrow focus, and taking that approach to marketing will deliver narrow results at best.

Hire Digital Marketing Agency in Houston for Online Marketing

Moreover, since the world of “Digital Marketing Agencies” has exploded in the last couple of years, many are simply the result of someone wanting to run a “side hustle”, and are new to the world of marketing.

Sure, people can learn new skills quickly these days, but do you really want to put your trust into the hands of someone that’s not fully committed to growing your business, growing your pocketbook (the thing that pays for rent, food, and other essentials)?

I would say “No” and back it up with the idea that before doing that it’s imperative to educate yourself about what these folks are saying they’ll do for you before diving in. Especially before ever accepting a pitch that sounds something like…

The Typical Pitch To Busy, Small Business Owners

If you’ve ever spoken with a digital marketing agency, I’m guessing the “conversation” went something like this…

Hi [your name],

I’m Sara Smith from XYZ Digital Marketing Agency. We help businesses like yours reach new heights in their niche by enhancing their [insert digital agency’s focus here: social media presence; website; funnel; content creation; ads; SEO; etc.].

For just [$500-$2,500/mo, plus expenses], we can take your business to the next level. Now, I know what you’re thinking. That may seem like a lot of money now. It might be, but it’s a lot less than what you’ll pay by not acting right now.

The best ways on how to influence people over the phone

Don’t wait weeks, months, or even years to get started. Act now and we can get you on the path to success.

What do you say? Can we get a contract started?

Yes? That’s great, let me just mention that while we can’t guarantee results, we always deliver for our clients. If for any reason this doesn’t work out, you can cancel at anytime.

Sounds like a great deal, right? Taking our businesses to the next level is what we’re all in this for, correct?! Besides, if it doesn’t work out I can “…cancel at anytime.”

In reality, that’s just crap. What they’re really saying is, “I have no idea if I can actually help you, but I’ll take your money until we both find out.”

But Thomas, Isn’t the Automated Executive An Agency?

Why do I say all this? Some folks might say I’m running an agency myself. Well, I’m not. In fact, I’m running an anti-agency.

Agencies aim to play on your ignorance.

Don’t know what SEO is, or how it works? Then you better hire my agency!

Have no idea how to run a blog? Sign here, please.

I’m not saying that as an owner you have to do everything yourself. What I’m saying is that as an successful entrepreneur I know working on numerous areas of your business is natural.

With that in mind, and unlike every agency in the world, The Automated Exec aims to empower business owners like you to take the reigns in your digital marketing efforts.

Automated Executive logo (png)

With that, I want you to take the things I’m teaching in this website so you can understand what should, and should not be expected of anyone you hire to assist with your marketing efforts. This is especially true when it comes to working with any sort of outside company, like a digital agency.

Good Times, Bad Times, Marketing Is King

Marketing is the lifeblood of every business.


In good times, smart business owners know to invest heavily into marketing. Why? Because it’s the only way to acquire new customers.

In tough times, even smarter business owners know to invest even more in their marketing efforts.

Why? Because it’s the ONLY way to acquire new customers.

During tough economic times, the pool of customers shrinks. Therefore, the only way to acquire new customers is to double down on your marketing efforts.

The companies that go deeper, wider, and louder with their marketing efforts during downtimes always come out on top. Always.

Imagine a World…

Imagine if Apple fired their marketing team tomorrow. Their $3 trillion valuation would dry up in just a few years, and richest, most successful company in history would cease to exist.

Most people would say it’s sales that drives a company. However, without the proper marketing materials in place, sales fall by the wayside, and every other part of the business becomes irrelevant.

Think about it. Apple, the most successful company on planet Earth has exactly zero sales people. Yes, they have folks who work in the retail stores, but they aren’t there to sell. They’re there to answer questions. The marketing does all the work.

What A World Without Marketing Looks Like

95% of businesses fail in the first 5 years. That’s a fact. 76% of the businesses that make it past that never break $100k in annual revenue. Why? Because when people start a business they’re typically good at one thing.

Know how to fix cars? Open an auto shop.

Good at baking cookies? A bakery is probably in your future.

Of course, just because someone can fix a car or bake delicious treats doesn’t make them good at running a business. That’s a very different set of skills that need to be learned over time.

Then, as the business grows it takes another skill set to be able delegate certain tasks to hired staff so the owner can continue working on the business, rather than working in it. See the difference?

The E Myth

Michael Gerber does an amazing job breaking down the stages of starting then growing a successful business in his book: The E Myth. Worth the read no matter what stage business you’re at.

In it Michael discusses how, as a business grows, it’s imperative to being on qualified people to help. If you need help managing the money, paying taxes, etc.? Hire a competent CPA. Don’t know how to handle hiring and firing? Hire someone with Human Resources (HR) experience.

It’s my contention though that Marketing should always be handled and managed by you, the owner.

Why? Because no one cares about your business more than you. Plus, the best salesperson the business will ever have is the one who started the company, had the original vision, and knows where it is today, and where it’s going in the future.

This is why Automated Exec’s are given the tools to understand and implement the 7 (not 1, or 3, or even 5, but 7), major elements of digital marketing.

Understanding how they work together, and being able to implement them on your own will give you an unparalleled competitive advantage in any industry. By knowing That’s because it means knowing how your unique message is landing, where it needs work, and how to win in the new digital economy.

What Are The 7 Elements Of Digital Marketing?

A successful digital marketing campaign consists of 7 key elements. Without each of these connected to the others, sales will suffer. How? Well…

If a business doesn’t have 1) a website, then they can’t effectively 2) publish and deliver content in one easy-to-access place. The business also won’t get picked up by the SEO gods and shown to potential customers looking to buy what you’re selling.

If a business doesn’t have an effective 3) funnel in place they won’t be able to outsell the competition and will eventually either be killed or acquired.

If a business doesn’t have an effective 4) text or email drip campaign in place they’ll miss countless sales opportunities from the people who visited their site and needed an extra push before buying.

If a business doesn’t have a 5) consistent and engaging social media presence then they’ll be sending as much as 30% of prospective customers into the hands of competitors.

If a business doesn’t have the ability to accept 6) digital payments they’ll scare off any customers born after 1980 (a.k.a. the people with money to spend that’s not their parents’).

Finally, if a business doesn’t 7) launch their own products and services, the world will never know they exist, and sales will trickle in at best. Growth will suffer, and so will all the folks in the world you were meant to serve.

What To Do Next…

So what should the next steps be if you’ve been considering hiring an agency, or are working with one now?

First, take an honest assessment of the ROI they’ve generated to-date.

Here’s a simple rule – If you’re spending $1 and getting $0.50 back in ROI, it’s time to end the relationship. If you’re spending $1 and getting $1.50 back then by all means keep it going.

For example, has the website they built converted more customers than the old one? If it did, keep things going, but monitor, monitor, monitor the results.

If the SEO they’ve helped build is delivering more free, organic traffic congrats. No? Then time to take this over yourself. Learn how to start managing your own SEO here…

I could go on, but the moral is, do an honest assessment of what their true deliverables are versus their costs. If what they’re delivering isn’t more valuable than their fees, dump them.

In other words,

At the end of the day, you know what’s best for your business, and any employee or part-time subcontractor who’s not pulling their weight needs to go. In the end you’ll both be better off for it.

Want To Share Your Experience With Digital Marketing Agencies?

No need to name names here. We’re not trying to crush anyone in particular, but tell us about the experiences it in the comments section below. The good, the bad, and the so-so.

Talk soon!

Thomas Buttino – Digital Agency Skeptic

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Thomas Buttino

From a very young age, Thomas has spent his time putting all he's learned about business, psychology, and leadership into effect to try and have an impact on the world.

Now, he's launched The Automated Executive Program to help other business owners gain useful, actionable insights into the world of digital marketing. Join Thomas on this journey of personal and professional development.

Discover a new, more automated way forward so you, too, can begin enjoying more of the most precious thing in life - TIME.

Thomas Buttino

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