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When we say it’s crucial to find the right agency in which to entrust your brand’s success, we’re not being dramatic. When you’re shopping for a new marketing agency, you’re not just looking for a service provider – you’re seeking a partner who understands your goals, values your vision, and can deliver results. But in the sea of agencies promising the world, how do you separate the gems from the duds? We’ve put together a few red flags you should be on the lookout for when selecting a marketing agency to partner with.

Transparency matters

First off, beware of agencies that shy away from transparency. A lack of clarity about their processes, pricing, or even their team structure is a big no-no. You deserve to know where your money is going and who exactly is handling your brand’s reputation. If they dodge your questions or give vague answers, it’s time to move on.

Practice what you preach

Watch out for agencies that don’t practice what they preach. A marketing agency should lead by example, showcasing their expertise through regular blog posts, frequent social media updates, and a strong investment in their own marketing efforts. If they’re telling you to do all these things, but neglecting to do it themselves, it raises questions about their ability to deliver results for your brand. A reputable agency understands the importance of walking the walk, not just talking the talk, when it comes to effective marketing strategies.

Serious sales tools

Check out their website. Is it recent? Does it capture your attention? Is it dynamic? How is the user experience? Is it quick to load? Is the copy correct and relevant? Do the buttons take you where you want to go? An agency will tell you a website is the most important sales tool – it’s your shopfront, your information hub, your main point of contact, and if an agency isn’t treating their website seriously, who’s to say they’ll treat yours any better?

Proof of past successes

Testimonials and case studies are your best friends when vetting potential agencies. If they can’t provide solid evidence of past successes, proceed with caution. Any agency worth their salt should be more than willing to showcase their wins and the strategies behind them. Look for real, tangible results that align with your goals. If all they have to offer are empty promises and flashy presentations, they might not have what it takes to deliver.

Realistic results

Speaking of promises, be wary of agencies that guarantee overnight success or astronomical ROI. Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, effort, and continuous optimisation to see meaningful results. Any agency that claims otherwise is likely overpromising and underdelivering.

Long-term contracts or con-traps?

Watch out for agencies that try to lock you into long-term contracts right off the bat. While retainers are a standard practice in the industry, they should be based on mutual trust and demonstrated value. If an agency pressures you into signing on for months on end without first proving their worth, it’s a major red flag. Look for flexibility and a willingness to earn your business month after month.


The old adage ‘communication is key’ couldn’t be truer in your (potential) relationship with a marketing agency. If you’re reaching out to an agency, you’re still in their sales cycle, so you should be their number one priority. If they’re slow to respond to emails, phone calls, or messages, it could be a sign of things to come. You want an agency that is attentive, responsive, and proactive in keeping you in the loop. After all, you’re entrusting them with your brand’s reputation—radio silence is not an option.

A top team

Pay attention to the team behind the agency. Do they have the expertise and experience to back up their claims? Look for a diverse team with a range of skills and backgrounds. A one-size-fits-all approach rarely brings home the ROI bacon. You want a team that understands your industry, your target audience, and your unique challenges. If the agency lacks depth or specialisation in key areas, you’re marketing likely will too.

Trust your gut

Last but not least, trust your gut. If something feels off during the initial contact or throughout the vetting process, don’t ignore it. Your intuition is a great tool when it comes to making important decisions for your business. If the agency doesn’t feel like the right fit, keep searching until you find one that does.

Outsourcing marketing has time and again been shown to provide great ROI. However, the results you see will depend on the marketing agency you choose, so make sure you’re keeping an eye out for the above red flags. 

Need advice or wanting to engage with a marketing agency that takes your brand (and its own) seriously? Get in touch with one of the (experienced and expert) Energise team today.