You don't get to be featured on Small Business Mentor if you settle for mediocre. All of the agencies featured on our site have incredible results with case studies and reviews to support them. Whether it's incredible design or getting their customers a massive return on investment, success is the number one goal. They put in the extra effort to make sure you're successful, and they don't stop until the job is done. If the results don't blow us away, or they settle for "good enough," they don't make the cut.
Contracts shouldn't be 40 pages long with a bunch of fine print. Agencies should give friendly and clear reminders about upcoming renewals, deadlines, and results. If the agency messed up, they should make it right. Your ad budget shouldn't be increased just because the agency wants to make more money off of you, and they should audit their work regularly. We believe you shouldn't have to watch over an agency's shoulder to make sure they aren't ripping you off.
You should be able to ask for specific pricing for each service that is being given. Retainers are okay if they can specify how many hours they spent on each of the services they delivered to you. That way, you and the agency can make data-driven decisions on how to spend your hard-earned money. Any agency that can't give you specific pricing or help you calculate an accurate return on investment isn't looking out for your best interests.
Any business owner knows that the customer isn't always right. However, if you need help with something small and the agency starts referencing the contract you signed, we don't think that's fair. Even better, if the agency is proactive and you don't even have to ask, they get a gold star. The agency should be there to help and support you (within reason) to help you accomplish your goals. Additionally, the agency should include all services needed to perform the job well in the original contract. If they knew they were running your advertising, didn't include landing page design in your contract, and then blamed poor results on not having landing pages - they aren't looking out for you.