Paid Ads PPC

7 things you need to know do and ask before hiring a paid ads agency

Burning Money on Paid Ads

Burning Money on Paid Ads

One of the biggest fears of every business looking to hire a paid advertising agency is “I hope I don’t get conned”.

How do I know that?

Because every person sitting across my table (or at the other end of our Zoom calls) starts the conversation with the exact same look on their face – a mix of suspicion, fear, a realisation they don’t know enough about the subject, and that feeling that they’re about to give this bunch of media agency people access to their business and they don’t have guarantees on what’s going to happen next.

Tell me, how far off the mark am I?

So — I decided to list the 7 most important things to know, do, ask and understand before you sign on the dotted line:

  1. How media agencies get paid
  2. There is no such thing as guaranteed results
  3. The agency doesn’t own your accounts
  4. Get on a discovery call, fast
  5. Ask to speak to current customers
  6. Read the contract thoroughly
  7. Ask what optimisation work will be done in the accounts

Let’s dive right in!


Things to know

How agencies get paid

Most paid advertising agencies work on the same model:

  • they agree on monthly advertising spend you can afford
  • they run the ads for you based on that monthly spend
  • they charge a management fee for that (either a % of ad spend, or a set amount per month).

I’d recommend you enquire with multiple agencies to sanity check what I’ve just said for your own peace of mind — don’t take my word for it!

What’s a management fee?

A management fee is an amount the agency gets paid for the work they do in your accounts. Going into details here would take pages and pages, and frankly would be really boring unless you’re into this kind of things, but top-level, the fee usually includes, yet is not limited to:

  • Campaigns & ads creation
  • Optimisation and maintenance
    • creating new ads
    • regular improvements of ad copy
    • new a/b tests
    • keyword research,
    • Make sure you’re not spending money on audiences/keywords that are not relevant
    • and lots more

Potential one-off fees

Sometimes there is work that needs to be carried out before you’re able to start advertising. This is a separate, one-off cost that shouldn’t be included in future monthly management fees, and includes:

  • Advertising accounts setup (usually if you’ve never advertised before)
  • Tracking setup (those little bits of code on your website that tell you where your enquiries have come from, so you know what is working and what isn’t)
  • Google Analytics setup
  • Google Tag Manager setup

For clarity: 100% of the agreed advertising spend is used to advertise.

Google, Facebook, and any other advertising platform take money directly from the bank account or the credit card attached to the advertising account – the agency doesn’t get a penny.

This means there is no way for the agency to take a cut of the advertising spend behind your back as well as their management fee.

There shouldn’t be any reason for the agency to ask you to pay them the advertising spend as well as the management fee. If you get this request, question it — the agency would have to keep the money in a separate bank account, record it as disbursements, and be able to prove at any point that the entirety of the sum was used as advertising spend.

A lot of faff, if you ask me when you can simply let Google or Facebook take money from your card every time you hit the spend threshold.


There is no such thing as guaranteed results

There I said it.

Now that I got that out the way, let’s unpack why with a famous saying.

“You can lead the horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink.”

Whether you advertise with leaflets, newspaper ads, social media, or digital ads – whether or not people enquire or buy from you, it’s something no agency in the world can control or guarantee.

What agencies SHOULD guarantee though, is targeted, quality eyeballs to your product, offer, or service. Common sense says that when we lead people with a problem you can fix to your solution, they are likely to enquire or buy from you, right?

I love good ol’ common sense.


The agency does not own your ad accounts

If at any point the agency:

  • Wants to create a new advertising account for you, despite you having one already
  • Doesn’t want to give you access to the account
  • Gives you access to the account, but on a view-only permission level
  • Insists to run advertising campaigns from their account
  • Refuses to hand back the account after you decide to stop working with them

Then you know things are going to go south, FAST.

Let’s be clear: your advertising account, like any other online account you have, is your own asset. You own the account, you own the data in it, you own the ads, you own the images, the website you’re advertising to, EVERYTHING.

Any agency that tries to convince you otherwise is operating from Dodgy Land — avoid partnering with them at all costs.


Things to do

Get on a discovery call, fast.

There are two reasons this is important, and they’re not what you think they are.

One – you need to get a feel for the people.

Are they on time? Are they friendly? Do they take the time to make technical concepts simple and easy to understand? Are they really listening to what you’re saying and asking probing questions, or are they just waiting for their turn to speak so they can get on with it? Are you both on the same page? Do you even like them at all?

Two – they should be talking about business, not paid ads.

Let’s be real, nobody outside of the paid advertising community cares about paid advertising. It’s hard work, it’s technical, it’s boring, and people get a headache just thinking about it.

So if you get in a meeting, and the agency guys snow you under with technical lingo, you might want to reconsider, because this is likely how they’re always going to interact with you.

Paid advertising people are supposed to take time to ask about your business, your goals, what you’re currently doing, why have you decided it’s time to advertise, and what are your expectations.

They should specifically ask, and probe, and ask and probe again, around your goals and what you’re trying to achieve.

They should make sure they REALLY understand what you’re after. Sometimes even help YOU clarify what you’re after — after all if you know very little about paid advertising, how are you even supposed to know what is possible?

Paid ads people should be less like another third party and more like a partner / consultant.

The Mickey to your Rocky, the Miyagi to your Karate Kid, the Yoda to your Luke Skywalker — capiche?

If you need in-person testimonials, ask to speak to current customers.

If the agency has got nothing to hide, they wouldn’t have any problem at all introducing you to other customers so you can have a quick chat with them about their experience. If anything, having someone else sing their praises should only be a good thing!


Things to ask

Can you send me your T&Cs to read through?

At no point, you should agree to work with an agency (or a freelancer, for that matter) on a handshake or via email, without a proper contract in place. You have to protect yourself in case things don’t go the way you thought they were going to go.

Take notes during the meeting, and double-check in the fine print that there are no surprises.

Specifically, pay attention to the following:

  • Length of contract: there is usually a set number of months (3, 6 or 12) on a rolling basis, with a break clause. Make sure you note down when the break clause is, so that if you decide to not renew the service, you know when to hand in your notice.
  • Advertising spend amount: it should be pre-agreed and clearly stated.
  • Management fee: again, it should be pre-agreed and clearly stated.
  • Other one-off fees: if any one-off work needs to be done before you can start advertising, this has to be clearly stated and accounted for separately.

Most of the time, agencies are open and willing to negotiate on the terms, provided that, of course, you’re being reasonable, and don’t try to get them to work for free.

(You might be laughing right now, but I had a few businesses trying their luck like that!)

What optimisation work will you do in the account?

As I briefly mentioned while talking about what’s included in the management fee, there is regular activities and maintenance that has to be done in your advertising accounts on a weekly, bi-weekly and monthly basis.

The best way to think about them is to see your account like an athlete. The athlete needs to train regularly to improve his performance and have a shot at winning competitions. As soon as the athlete stops training, he’ll stop improving, and will more than likely keep losing to his competitors.

Different agencies have different approaches to account optimisation, but regardless of their approach, they should be able to tell you exactly what they’re going to do and how frequently they’re going to do it.

If they start glossing over, or say anything along the lines of “it’s difficult to say”, this is a cue you need to run.

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: pushing buttons to create ads is the easy part. It’s the optimisation that makes or breaks an account.

In Summary

Get into this with your eyes open! Ask all the questions, don’t be afraid to ask again if you don’t understand something, and make sure you dot the I’s and cross the T’s before committing to anything.

I’m not saying be overly suspicious – there are amazing professionals out there. But don’t be tempted to believe in miracles. If they promise you something that’s too good to be true, it usually is.

Find out more from Silvia at her website.

Our Business Event Speakers

Meet some of our featured business event speakers

Some of our awesome business event speakers are listed below. If you’d like to join them then find out more about becoming a speaker.

Stefan Thomas
Keynote Speaker | Bestselling Author of 'Business Networking for Dummies', 'Instant Networking' and 'Win The Room' | Founder of The Networking Retreat

Stefan Thomas

Stefan Thomas is the Amazon bestselling author of Business Networking for Dummies, Instant Networking and Win The Room. He is asked to speak at conferences across the world as well as to provide training and leadership to senior teams. His clients include BT, Instinctif Partners, Business Durham, Oxford Brookes University, Lloyds Banking Group and many more. Networking and social media have been Stefan’s exclusive route to market for over 15 years now, he lives it as much as he speaks about it.

Tracy Heatley
I help business owners to have Better Strategy, Better Marketing and Better Networking, through marketing mentoring, consultancy & networking training. I help people get referrals through my BoB Clubs Networking Groups.

Tracy Heatley

Tracy trains people to become networking ninjas, by helping them to understand their own communication style, develop ways to interpret others and how to adapt to communicate with anyone. She works with her clients to help them win the right business through referrals. As well as formal academic qualifications, Tracy is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute Of Marketing, an NLP Master Practitioner and networking expert. As well as running her own networking company, Business Over Breakfast (North West) since 2007, Tracy has been training people in networking and communications for over ten years. Since setting up her Better Networking training company, Tracy has worked directly with hundreds of business people to help them win better business through referrals.

Emma Alkirwi
CV and LinkedIn Expert, Bespoke CV Writer, LinkedIn Optimisation delivering results for clients’ careers and businesses. Working Mum and flexible working advocate.

Emma Alkirwi

Emma had spent over fifteen years working in the recruitment and the welfare to work industry. During that time she noted, how many people found it uncomfortable to write about themselves or their business. That hurdle was holding them back from getting their dream job or attracting sales leads. Coming from an industry that was stereotypically spent on the phone hard selling, she sought to change the mindset towards sales. Using the power of LinkedIn she is driven to show people that sharing knowledge and networking online is a simple way to attract sales & talent opportunities.

Roger Edwards
I am the Marketing Simplifier💥Speaker, Consultant and Trainer💥𝗔𝘂𝘁𝗵𝗼𝗿 𝗼𝗳 "𝗖𝗮𝘁𝘀, 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗲𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻𝘀"💥Helping you nail your offer, set your goals and plan your marketing activity

Roger Edwards

Roger helps companies nail their offer, set their goals and plan their marketing activity in a world where business BS and complexity threaten to stifle success. An experienced marketing professional helping businesses with their marketing strategy, content, and social media, Roger clocked up many years in the ‘big corporate’ world as marketing director of several UK financial services brands before getting out of all that and starting his own consultancy. He now uses his expertise to guide his clients in designing engaging marketing, is known as a prolific content creator and podcaster, and as a speaker. He’s the host of the popular and award-winning Marketing and Finance Podcast.

Networking Events in Edinburgh have never been healthier

Networking Events in Edinburgh have never been healthier

Networking Events in Edinburgh have never been healthier

This week sees the return of business owners to live face to face networking at the Scottish Networking Show in Edinburgh.

Organiser Andrew Charlton commented “After a couple of years without live business events being possible I am really delighted to see that over 150 networkers have registered for the event this week. The show has come to be regarded as one of the leading network events in Scotland and I can’t wait to welcome delegates back”.

Networking Event from Hashtag EventsHailing from Northumberland and just an hour away from the city down the East Coast Mainline Andrew regards this as his home event. “I love coming to Scotland and in particular to Edinburgh as this is closest to my home. In the 12 years or so I have been running and hosting business events in Scotland I’ve made some great connections but also feel privileged that many of them have become great personal friends too. That’s the power of networking.”

One of the event’s key attractions of the show are the masterclasses and workshops to help business owners, managers and entrepreneurs hone their networking skills.

This year the organisers Hashtag Events have announced a stellar line up of business skills experts including Colin McKeand, regarded as Scotland’s “Mister Networking”, Lee Foster, owner of Revitalise Connect a leading Scottish Network Organisation and Stefan Thomas, best selling author of Networking for Dummies and owner of the Networking Retreat.

Andrew added “As well as coaching sessions there are live b2b networking sessions to practice what we’re teaching and coaching on LinkedIn and dealing with the challenges of self-employment. Social Media has become a necessity for networkers across Scotland and we’ll be focusing on getting your profiles right and how to make a great impression.”

Business Owner and organiser Andrew said, “it’s an absolute pleasure to be hosting this event as my own personal mantra with networking is that I love to help people connect with more people and more of the right people.”

Edinburgh has a thriving networking scene and when combined with the events available in the Central Belt and within 30 minutes of the City Centre there is definitely no excuse for not being out networking to help develop your business, your own personal presence and show off your expertise.

Going along to anyone’s networking event is usually a great value way to promote your business and services to a wide range of delegates as well as revitalise existing clients and maybe find new opportunities. 82% of our delegates tell us that they are decision-makers meaning you’re talking to the right people at our events.

You can connect with our speakers online here:

Colin McKeand at

Lee Foster at

Stefan Thomas at

Emma Alkirwi at

Geoff Nicholson at

Digital marketing

Digital marketing is a double edged sword

Digital marketing is a double-edged sword.

Roger Edwards - speaker and blogger for Hashtag Events


On the plus side, it’s been a boon for companies all over the world. Digital technology has made marketing communications more accessible to more businesses for less investment than at any time in history.

It’s revolutionised how companies and brands deliver communications messages to customers. It’s made it easier and more cost-effective than ever to target an advert at a specific group of customers. Techniques once only available to big corporates with eye-watering budgets are now within reach of those with a few pounds to spend as well as those with many millions.

We can’t underestimate how incredible an opportunity this has been but there’ve been a few negative consequences. Marketing experts speaking at conferences, authors and social media influences have concentrated on digital marketing tactics like SEO, email lists and social media adverts and this has damaged the wider marketing discipline at the same time it has opened communications to all budgets.

It’s made marketing less customer focussed and more annoying.

It may even have made marketing scarier for people and companies who are not experts in marketing. Many of the companies I work with don’t have marketing departments. They may not have people who are marketing trained. They may have people who “do marketing” as a part of their job. For these people, it can be hard to get their head around all this talk about SEO, pay per click, email lists, funnels, and lead magnets.

Let’s look at these consequences in a bit more detail.

Firstly, to many people, today marketing just means communications/advertising/social media/promotion. Marketing is the SAME as advertising. We’ve forgotten about the wider discipline. We started talking less about customer research, products and price and more about SEO, clicks and likes.

Secondly, it’s become a scary mish mash of technology, jargon and hype. SEO. Keywords. Lead magnets. Email lists. Funnels.

I recently had a conversation with a client who was getting quite anxious because she didn’t have a digital marketing funnel and seemed quite relieved when I told her, that in her business, it wasn’t necessary.

And thirdly, in some respects, it’s become intrusive. Annoying. Enraging. Endless emails, pop up adverts that prevent you from reading an article or watching a video. Are enraging communications are happening because the people who send them aren’t thinking about customer needs anymore, only successful calls to action. And because digital communications are so easy for anyone to put together now.

How do we fix these problems and continue to benefit from the advantages of digital technology?

We must start talking about the whole marketing mix again, rather than just the digital tactics of communication.

That means developing a deep, almost obsessive, understanding of the customer and then putting together and articulating clear a standout offering, and marrying these up with a set of exciting goals. Do all of these things before looking at the digital tactics of communication.

Secondly, put everything through a simplicity filter. Can you explain your product and service in simple language? No jargon or gobbledegook? Ignore the technical talk about SEO and funnels (and don’t be lured into buying too good to be true, so-called solutions, which thrive upon such technical talk).

And finally, concentrate on engaging rather than enraging your customers. How can you help them with your promotions and content? Answering their questions using content? Give them all the information you can about your product/service versus your competitors, including price?

I use this mantra. If, as a customer myself, I don’t like all that intrusive, annoying advertising, why would I think it was okay to do that to my customers?

By starting to talk about the whole discipline again, whether that’s at conferences or in articles and videos, by starting to think about the customer, products and price as well as SEO, clicks and likes we can put the customer back in the spotlight.

Better customer focus. Engaged rather than enraged customers. And of course, all of that means more success for our businesses.

I look forward to looking at these ideas with you in more detail at future Hashtag Events.

Article written and provided exclusively by Roger Edwards.


The Bluesmobile

We’re putting the band back together

Event Team Assembled

business event team back together

Jake, Elwood and the Hashtag Event Team

It seems like almost a lifetime since we were regularly on the road around the British Isles week in and week out. After the dreadful pandemic and almost 2 years sitting being a screen warrior running virtual events and online marketing, we finally got ourselves outdoors, met some real people and managed to run three awesome events in the Autumn of 2021.

All went smoothly and after making the decision to accelerate our return to live events we got busy preparing for 2022.

That’s not just finding venues and planning the events it’s also the vital event team that works behind the scenes and front of the house on event days to make it all go smoothly for our sponsors, our exhibitors, the speakers and our delegates.

I’m personally absolutely thrilled that we are officially back “in the studio” as a band and raring to go for 2022. All the key members of the team are on board and ready to jump in the bluesmobile to hit a town near you and can’t wait to see you all.

The event team for ’22 is now confirmed as Geoff on Saxophone and Social Media, Will on Bass and Logistics and Lousie and Rachel on Trumpet and Horn as well as making the front of house run like clockwork. We’re joined by Muhammad in the back office and conducting the flow of information and yours truly on lead vocals and anything else we need to be done. If you want to find out more why not follow me on LinkedIn and keep up to date with what’s going on and check out the event calendar to find a business event near to you and come and say hello to the team, we’d love to see you.

Business event calendar released

Our 2022 Business Event Calendar is released

Business Event Calendar released

Business event calendar released

Business event calendar released

Well after a busy festive period planning and preparing for what we optimistically hoped would be a near-normal business event season we are delighted to announce that our first provisional calendar is released.

Featuring 13 confirmed shows across the United Kingdom and Ireland we’re thrilled to be returning to many existing venues and adding some new ones too. Back as regular fixtures are our events in Glasgow where we host the Expo Scotland Business Show twice a year at the fabulous C7 Conference Centre in Port Dundas. A handy 10-minute walk from the city centre and just a couple of minutes from the motorway we’ll be back in May and November for the 22nd and 23rd running of our oldest event.

May and November see us returning to our old home for Chester Business Show once more after interruptions during the pandemic and an enforced switch to another venue in 2021. We’ll be at the Crowne Plaza in Chester City Centre for this ever-popular gathering.

We will be returning to The Stables Country Club in Bury for Expo North West Business Show and to The Inchyra Hotel and Spa in Falkirk for the Forth Valley Business Show.

New for ’22 include first but long overdue visits to Stoke and Belfast as well as excursions further North into Scotland to Dundee and Inverness. We’ll be across the Irish Sea twice with the Social Media and Marketing Show heading to Belfast in April and the Belfast Business Show making its’ debut in November. The season is completed by trips to Warrington and to Walsall where we visit the stadiums that play host to the Wolves and the Saddlers respectively.

We’ll be publishing more details on each of the shows in the coming weeks so keep an eye out and make sure you book your complimentary business event tickets and come along to see us.

Business Events by Decision Makers for Decision Makers

Getting the most out of a business event

Exhibiting at a business event or business show is a dark art.

In the video recorded recently, Hashtag Events CEO Andrew talks about ways to maximise your opportunities and have a great day at any tradeshow or business event.

With over 14 years of experience organising over 120 business shows around the UK don’t miss these top tips, advice and recommendations. Andrew has seen it all from the good to the bad and the very ugly and events both here and abroad. Andrew shares his insights so that you can organise your exhibition and be prepared and ready to be successful. Not all exhibiting requires you to spend a significant amount of money and Andrew’s insight into ways to “bootstrap” your presence could save you a small fortune.

As with all things the devil is in the details but it needn’t be complex or overbearing. A few simple rules help you to plan and prepare.

Hashtag Events deliver business events for decision-makers across the UK and Ireland. Our business events are designed for all business sectors and businesses of all sizes. We deliver the right audience for growing and ambitious exhibitors and exceptional experiences for delegates with world-class presenters and speakers.

Check out our upcoming events and see if there is an event near you:

Recommended further reading:

Lynne Boyd – Marketing Manager at Document Data Group

Lynne BoydI have been exhibiting at Hashtag events for over a year now all of which are organised by Andrew and his team. Andrew operates these events in a professional and well structured manner with great opportunities to meet new businesses. He is a very motivated person who has a great passion for his business and therefore helping others in business too.