One of the biggest beliefs we hold at Kayak is that it’s a good idea to tell the truth, even when it hurts. We have put that idea into practice a lot the last couple of years, particularly when it comes to addressing ethical issues we see within our industry.
Today, I’m laying out what we think are the seven deadly sins that no agency or marketing company should commit, and that no client should accept…
Sin #1 Bragging about awards or accolades
As I posted recently, a lot of web design awards aren’t all they are cracked up to be. And, even when they are prestigious, they don’t necessarily tell clients what they need to know in order to make a good decision about who to hire.
A strong digital agency is one that is focused on client success, not just pushing the envelope creatively. If a team of designers and programmers is more worried about plastic and metal on their walls than what they are doing for their clients, it’s not a good sign.
Demonstrating expertise and sharing successful outcomes are totally acceptable though.
Sin #2 Emphasizing creativity over functionality
This sin is tied into the issues we have with creative awards, but worthy of its own mention. That’s because too many creative professionals see themselves as artists first and marketers second.
Real-life customers aren’t impressed by offbeat creations or unconventional solutions. They are using the internet because they need specific answers, information, or solutions to the problems they are dealing with. If all of your focus is on creativity, then you might miss the point and create a website that isn’t nearly as useful as it should be to the people that matter.
We keep in mind that an easy-to-navigate structure is critical to website success.
Sin #3 Relying on the same tactics or ideas again and again
If there is one thing virtually everyone understands about the digital age, it’s that the landscape is constantly shifting. And yet we continually see companies relying on outdated tactics, particularly when it comes to the basics of web design and search engine optimization (SEO).
To stay ahead of the game – and remain competitive – you have to be willing to not only be aware of industry news but also embrace breaking ideas. A digital firm that stands still is hurting themselves as much as the clients they claim to serve.
Keeping moving doesn’t mean overlooking best practices.
Sin #4 Making billing more important than delivering value
I can remember the early days of my agency career when one of my employers would invite all team members into meetings simply so they could bill clients for the hourly rates. It was just one example of generating revenue over doing what was sensible for clients.
When a creative team does whatever they can to bill a client more money, they are sacrificing long-term relationships. That’s not beneficial for anyone involved, and it is not an ethical way to run a company.
Sin #5 Spilling client secrets to the world
Often, in a rush to show off a successful project, a digital team will inadvertently spill sensitive information about a client. Sometimes these details are hidden within case studies; other times they are shared through blog posts and social updates.
It goes without saying that the work we do for other companies shouldn’t be explained if doing so would inform their competitors about sensitive plans, ideas, or practices. In this day and age, when we pay more attention than ever to data security, why give away insights unnecessarily just to score a few marketing points?
At KAYAK, we include an NDA in our contracts that works both ways. Anything we share is either authorized or not identifiable, and we expect the same from clients.
Sin #6 Being a prima-donna
There is a big difference between providing good advice and arguing with clients. Unfortunately, some creative teams haven’t picked up on the distinction.
It’s easy to forget that our clients will sometimes disagree with our recommendations because they know more about their businesses than we do, or have tried ideas that predated our involvement in their work. Clients might not always be right, but they are still clients. That means we should be doing our best to work within the parameters of good business.
That said, some clients really are bad clients. Know when its time to fire them. You’ll sleep better.
Sin #7 Selling services instead of solutions
This is probably the biggest and most prevalent sin we see every day. Far too often web design firms sell deliverables, like a new website design, or SEO, or Adwords management rather than an overall strategy meant to create the better results a client really wants.
It’s often easier to talk in terms of products or items that can be checked off a list, but the best online marketing plans are dynamic and results-based, and adapt over time to adjust for new challenges. When business owners and executives are paying for busywork instead of actual lead generation activities, there isn’t a great incentive for a web design team to do its best work.
Is it time for a fresh approach to lead generation?
As you might have guessed, Kayak is a different kind of digital agency. Business owners and marketers know us across north America as being more than just another web design team. That’s because our specialty is building effective and sustainable lead generation systems for clients in countless industries.