Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?
Where do I begin? We spent over $35,000 with Growth Drivers and the end result is that we are now taking legal action against the company, as the company breached our contract and Matthew Baker has then completely ignored our formal complaints to him. Yes, that's right. They IGNORED us. Speaking with an unhappy customer to resolve their complaint is basic customer service and yet somehow we have now had to involve a lawyer, simply because Matthew feels it is completely OK to handle a complaint by not responding.
We had issue after issue with the way our account was so badly handled. The team consistently overpromised, clearly taking on a much bigger project than they could realistically (and competently) handle, and the end result is that we have been left with very, very little to show for it. Just a few examples I can share include:
- Our most recent monthly retainer was paid for in advance, as usual. The company subsequently breached their contract with us and so the relationship broke down. Matthew acknowledged that "mistakes have been made" and agreed to make a refund for any unused hours left on our account, back in May, and yet still today has never made the refund... he has since decided to pocket the money and ignore any of our emails/letters.
- There is ZERO transparency (and a lot of smoke and mirrors). Despite repeated requests, the company has never shared any timesheets with us, for example. What have they got to hide?
- I came up with the vast majority of any creative ideas, which the team then consistently treated as if they had come up with them internally. Their own ideas were poorly thought out and their approach to working through the strategy process itself was incredibly haphazard... it felt like little more than guesswork on their part.
- Despite working together over several months (and spending $35k!), the team clearly still had very little grasp of who we were as a company and what we were working to achieve.
- The quality of the work was very mixed. Most output was poor and clearly very rushed, and what was simply "OK" was largely only because I had to spend an inordinate amount of my own time working on the project, guiding the team and correcting errors. I know very well that I had to provide feedback and a real input into the process, but this was essentially me doing a lot of the work myself. Even then, the final output was mostly just delivered in messy, disorganised Google Sheets, which were difficult to make use of.
- The legal contract states very clearly that "weekly 1 hour calls" are included in the cost of the retainer, separate from the hours we hired them to work on the project itself. We later found out that these calls were billed to us and so used up the majority of the retainer each month... we didn't want or even ask for these calls! Matthew himself even remarked that other customers have not been happy with the way calls have been billed to them either. Ultimately, it is a very easy way for Growth Drivers to increase their billable revenue each month - these calls sometimes lasted several hours, mainly because the team was so disorganised and we had to go over the same topics almost endlessly!
- Aaron pitched the company's OWN marketing services to OUR customers, who they were interviewing on our behalf to build our customer personas. We quite literally paid them to sell their services to one of our customers! This was not only one of several breaches in our contract, but was completely unprofessional.
- Their choice of team members / contractors is very questionable (hence the mixed quality of work). I feel like we simply paid them to be a middleman, to pass on our work to faceless freelancers we had no say in whether we wanted to work with or not, rather than the professional, well-managed “full service agency” we were looking for (and they promised).
- Complete chaos with any kind of project management. We never had an agenda (not even a few bullet points) ahead of any meetings/ calls, Asana was a complete mess and therefore completely unusable, the project scope constantly changed... basic organisational skills went completely out the window.
The final straw was when Aaron very abruptly parted ways with Growth Drivers to join another competitor. We were not informed of his departure (Aaron was the main person working on our account!) and I only found out when I had to email Matthew myself. Aaron left the company with no handover of any kind, leaving Matthew completely and utterly uninformed about the work required on our account. He actually asked me to explain their own marketing strategy back to him... this is what we were paying them to work on! We now have absolutely nothing valuable or useful to show for the project.
I am also spending a lot of time dealing with our lawyer, preparing for legal action, which is costing me even more time and money. For a small business with limited finances, this really hurts. On a personal level, whether Matthew agrees with my comments or not, to completely ignore my complaint to him (and not make a refund he had already promised) is completely shocking. I cannot believe how friendly and engaging he was when we were paying the company for their monthly retainer, and how quickly the relationship then soured when we raised a complaint. I would never, ever run a business in this way.
How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?
The project was managed incredibly poorly from day one. We gave them opportunity after opportunity to improve things, only for the situation to deteriorate further. We subsequently terminated our contract and Matthew has completely ignored our formal complaints, as well as our request for a refund of our unused hours (which he first agreed to, then didn't actually do).
What did you find most impressive about this company?
I am most "impressed" by how a company as disorganised, unprofessional, incompetent and completely amateur as this has been able to secure so many paying customers. The company is very, very good at overpromising and underdelivering. How other customers have had a "5* experience" is beyond me.
Are there any areas for improvement?
Yes. All areas! This is not how to run a digital marketing agency (or any business!). I would recommend they:
- Know their onions! We saw absolutely zero output which demonstrated their apparent "digital marketing expertise".
- Get much better organised.
- Keep to the terms agreed to in a contract (and then not breach said contract).
- Don't try to steal a customer's client base.
- Don't ignore customer complaints.
- Listen to their feedback, even out of professional courtesy.
- Don't overpromise, then continually underdeliver (or not deliver at all).
- Focus not on quantity of output, but quality. They shouldn't be charging customers for a service they simply can't deliver, on any front.