marketing agencyWhen you decide to hire a marketing agency, you’re making a serious investment in your brand. As you probably realize, choosing the right partner is difficult, especially when everybody promises you rock star results in the form of beautiful design, elegant copy, and innovative ways to connect with your target market.

What you care most about, however, is profitability. If you’re spending money on marketing, it needs to yield ROI. Given this substantive big-picture, not every talented agency will be a great fit for your business. Some will be afraid to tell you what needs done to produce the results you are looking for.

What you need is a marketing agency that embraces honesty, bi-directional communication, and openness. Fear should never be part of the mix, as good partners will tell you the truth even when it hurts.

As you’re shopping for an agency, read between the lines. Here are six common things that they’re afraid to say:

1) “Stop lusting over those big-brand campaigns – they won’t help you”

Every brand has a marketing budget. While big-name companies like Target and HP can afford to experiment with advertising dollars, you probably need to be more strategic with your allocations. Sure you can afford to spend a few thousand on a magazine ad, but why would you do that when a targeted AdWords campaign will yield stronger, measurable results.

Sure you want your brand to be as inspiring and compelling as your favorite industry shaker, but if you don’t have their marketing budget, you’ll wind up exploring “shortcuts” or justifying taking unnecessary risks. What you need is a partner who can talk you out of these pie in the sky campaigns and redirect your efforts to focus on your ultimately goal – revenue.

2) “Stop itching for unrealistic results”

You and your agency share something in common: you both love instant gratification. Unfortunately, Hollywood style success stories are rare breeds in the marketing world. It will take time to see returns on your marketing dollars, so don’t move forward with false hopes.

A realistic marketing firm will tell you that results are gradual, slow, and steady. Be wary of empty promises for instant gratification. What you need to hear is the not-so-glamorous truth – “give it some time, and you’ll get there.”

3) “Yeah, let’s go with your idea—it’s better than ours”

It may sound counter-intuitive, but some marketing agencies may be reluctant to move forward with your idea. This psychology stems from a point of insecurity: “yikes, what if they think I’m useless?”

A good marketing agency should be confident enough to always pursue the best idea, regardless of where it originates. Like you, they’re always learning and looking for fresh perspectives. It’s this attitude that is a true reflection of a partner.

Always remember that you are part of your marketing agency’s team. Share your great ideas, and see what your agency has to say.

4) “Your idea is terrible”

It’s never easy to tell a client that they’re wrong, but if it’s the case, it’s always the right thing to do. Clients hire agencies to provide professional advise, built on experience, and focused on a direction. For this reason, an overly agreeable agency will be a waste of time and money.

Look for agencies that are confident, knowledgeable, passionate, and articulate enough to speak up against a bad idea. Fear should never quiet constructive criticism.

5) “Your competition is out marketing you”

Nobody wants to hear that they’re losing the marketing game. If you run a business, however, you need an objective view the competitive landscape. Otherwise, you’ll keep lagging behind.

A good agency will expose where you are losing, why you are losing, and present a way to overcome the obstacle. After all, you and your agency share one goal – to get ahead.

A good agency will help you see beyond your immediate marketing plans to focus on the long-term health of your business. Don’t be afraid to think five or ten years down the road, and don’t be afraid to share what you’re thinking.

Marketing is more than a quick fix – it’s an investment. In order for campaigns to yield success, marketing teams must keep open lines of communication in order to develop the best ongoing solutions. Your marketing agency will help you along the way, giving you realistic direction to help you achieve your goals.