What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Hiring An Agency

Most small businesses fail for one reason – they don’t have a consistent flow of leads and revenue. Without leads, you don’t have a business – you’re praying your phone will ring or a new lead notification will pop up on your phone.

The good news is that business owners realize they need to advertise in order to be successful.  

But digital advertising has become increasingly complex, and most small business owners don’t have the time to learn the intricacies of paid search – they’re too busy running their business.

Naturally, they seek out a professional to run their campaigns. And then things get even more confusing?

Do I hire a big agency? A small agency? An individual?

The Bad News About Bigger Agencies– Your Account Just Isn’t That Important

I hate to say it, but at a large agency your account just isn’t as important as a large enterprise account. Campaigns spending more receive the most attention because they generate the most revenue for the agency.

Most larger agencies won’t take on small business accounts, but if they do, you need to understand that your account probably won’t be prioritized.

Agencies charge their fees based on monthly ad spend.  They care a lot more about an account spending $50,000/mo and generating 5-10k in fees (depending on the agency), than an account spending $5,000 a month generating $500 in fees.

It’s unfortunate, but agencies are a business too – if you’re only generating a few hundred dollars a month in fees, then your account will probably only receive a few hours of attention a month, if that.

Understand this before signing up with a larger agency.

Smaller Agencies Can be a Good Compromise 

Medium and small sized agencies can end up being a better value. Because your account will make up a greater portion of their revenue, they will prioritize your account.

They’ll be more responsive, and they will give your account the attention it deserves.

This isn’t always true, however, depending on the agency – sometimes analysts are in charge of 10-15 client accounts, and their attention can be spread very thin.

For this reason, I would ask any potential agency how many accounts your analyst will be managing.  Anything under ten is fine, but something closer to five would be preferable. 


Hiring a freelancer can be a great way to get the most value for your money. Freelancers are highly incentivized to help your account succeed. After all, your fee is probably very important to them, and they may only have a few accounts.

With that being said, you must vet very carefully – ask for references and proof of performance on other accounts they’ve managed.

I recommend finding someone who has a few years of agency experience under their belt; they’ve been trained in an agency environment and will probably have experience across many different industries.

In the end, do your research and speak with several agencies or individuals.

In part two of this series, I’m going to explain why choosing your agency is only the first step in the long road of paid search profitability.

  • January 26, 2018