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Why You Shouldn’t Sign A Long Term Marketing Contract

June 3, 2020 by Jason Yormark

Marketing agencies are a dime a dozen. Seem strange hearing that from an owner of one? I’ve never had a problem with speaking the truth, even when on the surface it may seem counterproductive to growing my business. But the fact of the matter is, there’s a new marketing agency popping up practically every day. Perhaps every hour really. I’ve spent close to 25 years as a marketer, and trust me when I say, if I could go back and do it all over again, I would have taken that film school acceptance letter instead.

I used to feel embarrassed by my resume because of how many stops I had on it along the way. But it wasn’t until a few LinkedIn searches for my marketing colleagues that I started to realize that I was the norm, not the exception. It’s very rare to find a marketing professional a few years into their career that stick around with one or a few companies. Whether it’s their choice or not, it’s a very volatile career path. Marketing can often be a flavor of the month kind of thing. Even if you’re doing a terrific job, business leaders sometimes feel like they just want to try something different. Another flavor if you will, even if the previous one was delicious.

This is why so many agencies and consultants can exist in the world, because many businesses like the flexibility and variety that comes with working with agencies. But that perk can quickly be neutralized if your business makes one simple mistake; committing to a long-term contract.

When I started Socialistics, I wanted to build an agency that was different. Of course, everyone claims to be “different”, but I really wanted to make that happen. I put myself in the shoes of my potential clients, and thought to myself, what are the things I don’t like about agencies, and how could I disrupt by doing things differently? Ultimately, we landed on a number of things, but the #1 thing by far was agreeing to not have our clients commit to long term contracts.

Many agency owners or those experienced in that world cringe at the thought of month to month contracts. Even one of those expert voices I highly respect and listen to regularly disagrees with this approach. Those opinions certainly make sense when they pertain to looking to sell your agency, but even in those cases I’m seeing a shift. Some early offers for us didn’t see long term contracts as a deal breaker to a sale or investment.

Times are changing, and for the years we’ve been in business, we’ve been a month to month agency and it’s been a tremendous differentiator for us. That and in my opinion, it’s just the right way to do things. How come?

  1. Financial flexibility. Businesses can ebb and flow when it comes to their numbers and sometimes shit happens. And when it does, what’s usually the first thing to go? Marketing budget. Look, I’d love to live in a world where that was not the case, but that’s being naïve. Rather than pretend that is not the case, I’ve just come to acknowledge that fact, and give our clients the freedom and flexibility to cancel or pause with us no matter the reason.
  2. The work is earned every month. Let’s be honest, long term marketing agency contracts only benefit one party…the marketing agency. It allows them to be complacent, perhaps de-prioritize you with other higher paying or newer clients, etc. Quite the opposite is true when you work with a month to month agency. They have to earn it every month. The results and how they treat you has to be on point or they risk losing you as a client.
  3. Trust. Given the choice between two equally competent agencies, ask yourself, who do you trust more with your business’s marketing? The one that wants to tie you up for 12+ months or longer, or the one that is willing to work with you risk free on a monthly basis?

Look, just being a month to month agency shouldn’t put you ahead of more qualified or talented agencies, but all things being mostly equal, as a business owner, choosing a month to month agency is a no brainer, and should be the rule, not the exception. I predict it’s just a matter of time before it is as more agencies shift to this model.

In the meantime, why not meet me for a quick chat to discuss how we can light up your social media with some lead and sale generating strategies?

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Jason Yormark

I'm a 20 year veteran of digital marketing & the owner and founder of Socialistics, a social media agency based in Seattle. My spare time is filled with writing, baseball, my boys and everything Seattle has to offer.

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