If you’ve decided that you’re not a marketer or simply don’t have time for it (you’re an attorney, after all, and are focused on billable hours), you may have decided it’s time to outsource your digital marketing efforts. It’s a big decision. Your time, reputation and hard-earned revenue are at stake. Consider the following factors when selecting the right marketing partner.
Beware the Auto-Renewal Contract
Everybody knows about the auto-renewal contract. They’re not exclusive to consumer contracts, like those for health club memberships, video-streaming services or computer software. That’s right, auto-renewals are often included in marketing agency contracts.
Make sure you look out for any auto-renewal clauses, euphemistically called evergreen clauses. If you contract for 12 months of marketing services, but you fail to provide advanced notice of cancellation as stated in the contract (usually 90 days), you’re locked in for another 12 months. So, if you’re not happy with the agency you’ve hired, well…
The auto-renewal contract can be so punitive that 22 states have statutes that limit auto-renewals. In 2017 alone, there have been over 50 auto-renewal related bills in state legislatures. When the government gets involved, there’s an issue. One New Jersey legislator dubbed them “zombie clauses” because they never seem to die.
Make Sure You Own Your Own Content
You might be thinking, Of course I own my own content, it’s my content, I paid for it! That sounds logical, I know, but you’ll definitely want to discuss content ownership prior to entering into an agency contract. Here’s the rub on content generated by some agencies: unless you’ve negotiated a specific provision in the contract, the agency might own the rights to their work even after you’ve paid for it.
What does not owning your own content mean? It means that if you move to another agency or bring your marketing in-house, all of the content on your website is gone. Pages of content will have to be reconstructed and optimized, blogs the agency has written on your behalf can’t be utilized, and months, maybe years, of analytics information is gone. So, basically, you can expect to have zero online presence for weeks, maybe months.
Be Sure to Target the Right Kind of Leads
A recent conversation with an estate planning attorney who had utilized a lead company disguised as a digital marketing agency can be summarized with this statement: “The leads were junk.” Sure, they’d delivered him one hundred “leads” per month as promised, but he soon discovered they were little more than respondents to a “check the box” survey. He spent hours contacting them, only to learn that their definition of a lead was little more than a name and a phone number. Those aren’t leads.