Does your gut say it’s time to leave your marketing agency? If you’re dissatisfied with your current marketing agency and thinking of jumping ship, you’re not alone.
Relationships with marketing agencies are waning as business owners become disillusioned with the service quality of big-box agencies. According to The Bedford Group, client-agency relationships have fallen from an average of 7.2 years in 1984 to less than three years today. So if your intuition is screaming, “Danger, Will Robinson,” it’s probably on target.
If you haven’t done your due diligence, you may start to question your relationship with your existing marketing agency. Even worse, you could end up starring in your own marketing horror story. So what should you do about it? Let’s look at six signs it’s time to leave your marketing agency and some qualities to look for in a new marketing partner.
1) Your Agency Doesn’t Understand Your Business
A keen understanding of your business is the cornerstone of a successful client-agency relationship. Unfortunately, many big agency account managers don’t have a strong working knowledge of their clients’ businesses and goals. Luckily, that’s easy to discover with a few telltale signs. If your agency just doesn’t “get” you, they might:
- Recommend products that aren‘t complete solutions for your business
- Use cookie-cutter approaches in your marketing plan
- Be unfamiliar with your competitors and their product offerings
2) Their Pricing Was Too Good to be True
“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” You know the saying, but it’s easy to brush aside when a marketing agency promises the moon for pennies. These prices and promises are part of the courting phase of your agency relationship, and they’re sometimes too good to resist.
But much like a marriage gone awry, agency promises often fall flat, leaving you unsatisfied and longing for more. Even worse, you may discover you’re paying more than what your agency promised. Take a look at your bill. If you spot unexpected add-ons and variable rates, it could be time to break up with your agency.
3) Your Agency is Stuck in Quicksand
What zaps your enthusiasm faster than a stagnant marketing agency? Not much. If your company isn’t making any progress compared to when you hired your current agency, it might be time to leave your marketing agency. If your marketing agency is stuck in quicksand, it’s probably:
- Sluggish: It takes forever for them to execute anything
- Unidimensional: It’s stuck on advertising as a single solution for your business
- Passive: Your agency doesn’t stay abreast of the latest digital marketing strategies
4) Employee Turnover Has Skyrocketed
“People don’t stay in jobs as long as they used to in the past. This is particularly the case within marketing…Therefore, it may come as no surprise that marketing jobs have the highest turnover rates.”
– Allison Ritcey, Toronto Marketing Recruiter
Working with a new account manager every week is no way to foster consistency and growth for your business. That said, turnover in marketing is higher than any other profession. LinkedIn reports 17 percent turnover for marketing professionals, over the global average of 11 percent. And if your agency’s culture is toxic, that rate just goes up. Turnover reflects poorly on an agency’s reputation, all the while negatively impacting your company’s ability to achieve its marketing goals.
5) They’re Not Tracking Your Results
It’s not you, it’s me. Well actually, it is you. If you have to beg for reports on your KPIs, it’s time to start “seeing other people” and leave your marketing agency. Seeing results shows that your agency is on task in their efforts to achieve your goals. Your agency might be falling behind on your results tracking if:
- You’ve seen no return on your investment in months
- They change the subject when you ask about progress
- You’re not given access to data related to your company (because they haven’t been updating it!)
- They focus on vanity metrics at the expense of conversions
6) You’re Not Impressed with Their Employees
Are you underwhelmed with how you’re treated by your existing agency? Maybe your account has been handed off to an inexperienced intern, or the receptionist always seems to drop your calls. Just as bad, your account managers are MIA and perpetually forget to respond to your emails and texts. If you find yourself wondering if the company scraped from the bottom of the talent pool barrel, that’s a surefire red flag that it’s time to leave your marketing agency.
Qualities to Look for in a New Marketing Agency
If any of those red flags looked too familiar, you’re probably more than ready to find a new agency that’s responsive, professional and attentive to your marketing needs. And that could even mean thinking smaller—smaller agency, that is. As you evaluate new agencies—large and small—keep an eye out for qualities that show you’re in the right hands.
Authenticity helps build trust between you and your agency. And if you’re like most people, you’d rather buy products or services from a company that’s real or authentic. Marketing agencies that value authenticity are usually:
- Quick to admit mistakes or acknowledge shortcomings
- Willing to share results, even if they’re not impressive
- Eager to focus on opportunities for improvement
2) Superb Communication
Responsiveness is vital to a productive client-agency relationship. You should never have to wait hours or days to get a response from your agency contact(s). Firms that serve clients outside of business hours and provide clients with account executive cell phone numbers understand the value of communication. Another positive check mark? Agencies that provide regular reports or updates like clockwork.
3) A Personalized Approach
The top marketing agencies recognize that no two businesses have identical marketing needs. Because of this, they’re hungry to discuss your business objectives and customized ways to achieve your goals. These agencies won’t lean on cookie-cutter approaches, because they know personalized marketing strategies will give you the highest ROI. And they never rely solely on advertising as your only option.
4) A Focus on Results
The most accomplished marketing agencies are operated by true visionaries who have both the big ideas and knowledge to execute them to win at marketing. You need to know that your new agency will test their proposed marketing initiatives and take a methodical approach to results tracking. Look for a marketing firm that wants to dig into your data and use it to develop your initiatives. Not only that, but make sure your new agency will keep you posted on campaign results.
5) Respect for Your Time
Selecting an agency that respects your time isn’t easy. But exceptional marketing firms know your time is valuable, so they’ll be efficient when they communicate. During your initial negotiations, you’ll know your new agency will respect your time and investment if they:
- Ask which mode of communication you prefer for updates and campaign results
- Return your calls and emails quickly, often within minutes
- Ask which time of day is best for calls
- Ask questions about your peak seasons
Transparency—in process, billing and staffing—is a common thread among leading marketing agencies. You’ll usually see it in smaller shops that value honesty and open communication with customers, too. Firms dedicated to transparency offer a refreshing change from the ones that change their fees or staff members on your account without notice. Firms that operate with transparency make sure that:
- Your invoice reflects agreed-upon rates
- You can easily access results and updates on your marketing campaigns
- You receive continuity of service by working with the same dedicated account executives
It’s Time to Leave Your Marketing Agency for Something Better
Your frustration with your marketing agency is mounting and the red flags are too hard to ignore. So it’s high time to leave your marketing agency and find one that’ll provide the support you deserve. Selecting an authentic marketing firm that’s eager to learn about your business and create a personalized plan of attack is both invigorating and refreshing. The best part? You’ll be on a new path to success in your industry. Leave your old agency behind to get the results you need with RedShift.