Alright, my small business friends, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive deep into the digital marketing jungle. Prepare your machete! The promised land of incoming leads may be on the other side.

I know your plate is full with running your business. And now you have a growing challenge, digital marketing. That is definitely NOT your specialty.

You’re out there trying to find your way through the digital bushland, and you might think you’ve found a trusty guide in your ‘digital marketing consultant.’ But beware! Not all guides are created equal, and some might be leading you around in big-ass circles .


1. They don’t let you access your Google Ads account

They have the treasure map but refuse to share it, which means they can hide poor performance or mismanagement of funds. If you can’t verify your investment, you can’t tell if they’re squandering it or using it wisely. Always demand full control of your Google Ads account. It’s your property.

2. They claim their top-secret technology is proprietary

This is a convenient way to dodge accountability. Without transparency into the tools they use, you can’t assess their effectiveness or determine if you’re getting value for your money.

3. They deny you website admin access

If they guard your website like the crown jewels and won’t grant you access, you depend entirely on them for updates and changes. This lack of control can cause delays, incur added costs, and make timely updates to your site challenging. You should be trusted with the keys to your own kingdom. And if you part ways, you need to be able to take your website with you.

4. They use a proprietary website platform

If they build your website in their secret lair instead of on a widely used platform like WordPress, it will be tough – if not impossible – to switch consultants without overhauling your entire site. This locks you into a long-term relationship, whether it benefits your business or not. If you are on an open-source platform (such as WordPress), you will have more flexibility if you decide to move to another vendor for your website.

5. They charge a percentage of your ad spend

This model incentivizes them to spend more of your money on ads, regardless of the ROI. The more you spend, the more they earn, which doesn’t lead to cost-effective strategies for your business.

6. They direct traffic away from your website

If they send your hard-won leads back into the wilderness instead of to your cozy inn, you lose potential sales. Directing traffic away from your site means that you don’t control that visitor, they do. This can lead to lower conversion rates and lost revenue. This includes using a third-party hosted funnel to capture leads, rather than building a funnel on your website.

7. They provide vague reports and communicate poorly

If they hand you a crayon-scribbled map instead of a detailed chart, you can’t accurately assess your campaigns’ performance. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and misalignment between your goals and their marketing actions.

8. They control your tracking phone numbers

This can be particularly perilous. I had a client whose spurned digital marketer took the tracking numbers that he controlled and forwarded them to one of her competitors. Controlling the tracking numbers means they control a crucial part of your customer interaction and data. If things go south, they can misuse it to your detriment.

9. Ignoring your business needs

If your digital marketer is marching to the beat of their own drum, your business goals and needs are not being considered. This misalignment leads to ineffective campaigns, wasted spend, and ultimately, failure to achieve your business objectives.

10. They have no strategic plan for making you money

Without a plan of attack for the journey ahead, your campaigns will lack direction and purpose. A lack of proactive recommendations for improvement shows a lack of investment in your success and can lead to stagnation and suboptimal performance.


11. Ignoring Revenue Metrics

Focusing on vanity metrics that don’t directly impact your business objectives is a classic smoke and mirrors trick. Telling you about “Search Rankings” and “Cost Per Click”, while neglecting to mention “Sales” and “Return on Ad Spend” is a sure sign that you are getting fleeced. High rankings might make you feel good, but if they don’t translate into sales, they don’t matter.

12. They don’t let you control your Analytics

Google Analytics holds all of the key information that really matters to seeing what’s going on under the hood of your website. If your web people don’t give you direct access to your Google Analytics data, or they want to control it, there’s a good chance they have something to hide. You should control your Google Analytics account, and selectively share access to it with your digital marketing vendors. You should never let them kick you out of your own data. Your data should ALWAYS belong to you.


If your ‘digital marketing consultant’ is waving any of these red flags, plot a new course and find yourself a guide who can actually lead you to the treasure. The digital jungle is fraught with danger, but with the right map and a trustworthy digital marketing guide, you can find your way to success.