Right off the bat let me say that I love local agencies but local marketing and web design agencies have a problem. Most have no idea what they are doing. We all know one. The web design agency that designed your site without taking the slightest degree of SEO into account or the SEO who still uses outdated or blackhat tactics (paid links anyone? Don’t laugh, I saw someone offering them a few days ago as a credible SEO tactic). It seems that with local agencies, and here I mean agencies in typically rural areas, most are using ill-advised or outdated methods. The reason why is that they think they can. The local population is typically ignorant of the latest digital marketing and web design trends and in some cases just having a computer science degree or creating a simple website is enough to “qualify” at least in their own minds, these marketers to do work for other local businesses. I’ve seen sites whose backend was a Frankenstein patch of code. The ultimate Gordian Knot. No logic in the coding process, massive amounts of code bloat, not a single drop of on-site SEO, web design that would make you shutter and the business owners were literally at their mercy having placed their faith and the future of their business in the hands of amateurs. This is beyond unfortunate as there are many small town and local marketing agencies that do work at the same level as or even better than the big city agencies. So the question becomes twofold: First, how do local agencies set themselves above the chaff and second, what can business owners do to prevent signing up with one of these amateur-hour agencies?
The answer to the first question the answer is relatively simple. Show the work that you have done. Show the local businesses that you have worked with businesses in the area and more importantly, outside the area. This shows that you have demonstrated your expertise outside the local area which means you have had people from outside the area judge your work. The more testimonials and reviews you have the better. Second, stay up to date with the latest trends. Go to conference. Not only are they great for networking but they are terrific to build your knowledge base. I’ve seen many marketers go bad by not staying up to date in their industry. This is also why the MarketingModo team attends at least three conferences a year across the country. Let your work speak for itself. If you do good work and get great results the rest is cake.
Now from the business owner side I would recommend that you ask the agency about other businesses they have worked for and keep an idea for agencies that have done work outside your immediate area. They say travel broadens and enriches the mind, having clients from all over does the same for the know-how of the agency. I would also highly recommend that you do some research yourself on the latest trends in web design and marketing so when you speak or meet with the agency you go in prepared to speak their language. Most agencies expect their clients to have little to no knowledge of marketing so use this to your advantage and ask them about the trends you have noticed. Business owners are fantastic at detecting when someone is heaping a big pile of BS so use this skill to vet out potential vendors. Lastly I would recommend small business owners to try to find an agency that does have small town experience in additional to national and international experience. Too many agencies are familiar with only big city ways that don’t really work in a small town with a very different demographic so make sure they have experience working in the small town environment. If you find one who does you are in luck as they are very hard to find. For example, the MarketingModo team is made up of experts who came from major cities as well as small towns so we have the people who speak your language whether you are in Philadelphia, Williamsburg or small town Pittston.
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