When should an agency take over my paid advertising?

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Paid advertising already requires that you pay money directly to advertising platforms, so the idea of spending additional dollars to an agency for management can be a high risk.

The Bootstrap Startup Scenario

Consider the scenario where you spend about $500 – $1,000 on ad spend per month. For a lot of bootstrapped startups, that is a lot of money. You realize that you don’t actually have time to learn the platforms or continually create the campaigns, so you go searching for some help. After receiving a handful of proposals, it quickly becomes apparent that you are probably going to have to double or triple your advertising budget just to cover the agency costs. Ouch.

This leaves you in what feels like a hopeless scenario. Either you keep managing the ads yourself and know that you’re probably wasting spend, or you start paying a lot more for an agency or freelancer to manage the account for you and hope they figure out very quickly how to help you profit.

PPC Agency Trials

The agency may not like it, but if you have a limited budget to work with, you are allowed to fight for your boundaries. Ask for a trial period. Ask for starter rates. It’s easy to get duped into a long-term contract that you can’t actually afford if the campaigns don’t actually yield. Therefore, it’s recommended that you follow these standards when outsourcing PPC help:

  1. Ask about the secret sauce. Find out if the agency can explain their process to you, and not just the process of doing keyword research and writing ads. Ask how they optimize an account. Ask them what they see as an indication that you’re succeeding. Ask what they know and don’t know about your business. You’re about to spend money, so you deserve answers.
  2. Ask for flexible pricing for three months. Getting started on PPC requires a window of time for collecting and analyzing data in order to optimize the account. Three months is usually enough time to see if the working relationship will succeed. After three months, you should either start seeing some yield, or you should at the very least see that the agency is making strategic pivots in their optimizations that indicate they’re on track to finding a profitable avenue.
  3.  Demand ownership and transparency. From day one of your contract, you should be able to see what is going on. If you find you have to keep asking how much money has been spent, whether there are any leads, or anything else that affects your bottom line, then you might be at risk of losing a lot of money.

Everybody Wins

A functional business relationship requires that everybody wins. The possibility of you working with an agency successfully hinges on a clear understanding of expectations, as well as compromises that help everyone get off on the right foot. At the end of the day, this is your money, and you choose where it goes. Fight for your needs and find the right partner before you have to learn that lesson the hard way.

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PPC Team standing outside by a building with their arms draped over a safety bar, L-R: Beth Ireland, Tess Little, and Lauren England