How to detect if your agency is lying was one of the topics of a recent iMedia post (http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/33398.asp). The telltale signs and circumstances are often different for large agencies and the large clients they serve than they are for a small startup. Money, time and expertise on the part of the entrepreneur are much more limited when hiring a vendor. So, while the list in the post is informative to read, you, as an entrepreneur and small business owner have to use additional skills and methods to choose an agency or vendor that will eliminate the environment for “lies” to exist in from the get-go.
The bottom line in choosing a vendor to work with is trust your gut. There are three parts to a good fit. If you feel the chemistry is right between you and the person or people you will be working with, that is 1/3 of the equation. The next 1/3 is that there is good and continuing communication between you and your vendor – neither party is doing all the talking and each person is building on what the other is saying (this is referred to as keeping the communication loop closed). The final 1/3 of the equation (and at this point if you’ve achieved the first 2/3, this will be a no-brainer) is that your vendor ceases to become a vendor and becomes a partner in that they are just as concerned as you are about your customers, your marketing, your success (yes I know I’m leaving out the part about references and experience in your industry but I think these three qualities often trump the others).
One of the nicest compliments ever paid to me was by Margaret Shumel (http://www.opex-ny.com/) when she was working at Pfizer. She said she liked working with me because I would talk her out of project ideas that I didn’t think would work – without regard for selling more services for myself. I’m in it for the long-term relationship not the quick sale. And you and your vendors should be in it for the same reason.