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Five Reasons to Switch Agencies and Five Signs you Should Stay

Jul 10, 2019 03:20PM ● By Alyssa McGinnis

There's a difference between a few bumps and a bad fit.

Make no mistake. We want your business. That said, we aren't the type of firm who "steals" clients purely for the sake of growth. Switching or introducing new partners takes a lot of energy, and we want to make sure you're moving on for the right reasons. Take a few minutes to see if you should stay put or start shopping for new relationships.

Reason to Switch: They Talk More Than Listen

You hire outside marketing folks to deliver a return on investment. While that return may mean something outside of dollars and cents, like engagement or retention, there's a necessary degree of accountability. Agencies who approach your organization with their portfolios in mind miss the point. The same goes for firms that come to you with pre-packaged solutions before knowing your challenges. Our role as outsiders is to provide a different perspective. It's not to pretend we grasp the ins and outs of your business. Your company is unique, and no amount of experience working with clients in your industry changes that.

Reason to Stick It Out: They Made a Mistake or Pushed an Idea Too Far

Even the best partners screw up. It happens in every kind of relationship. 
When it comes to marketing strategy and creative output, you either win, or you learn. Strong reactions from audiences provide insight. Silence offers little. Testing the boundaries of a brand means something will eventually hit the jackpot or backfire. Keep your partners so long as they learn from mistakes and avoid negative patterns in behavior.

Reason to Switch: They Merely Take Orders

A partner who assumes to know everything about your business isn't a good fit, but neither is a partner who rarely contributes new ideas. There's nothing more frustrating than hearing a partner start a conversation with the question "What are you looking for?" or "What would you like us to do?" It's no secret. Agencies charge a premium. Perspective - creative, strategic, analytical, etc. - justifies the cost. It's supposed to be a partnership. We are service providers, not servant providers. A stakeholder needs the final say, but shouldn't be alone in the discussions surrounding how to engage audiences to solve business challenges.

Reason to Stick It Out: They Get Results

We debated whether or not to keep this one on the list or replace it. Sure, there are extreme cases where the juice isn't worth the squeeze. Nobody wants to work with a jerk. Then again, influencing audiences to buy into what you're selling is a feat in and of itself. Use your judgment. By all means, explore your options if you think you can get a similar return with fewer headaches. All we're saying is to account for repeated success.

Reason to Switch: They Only Recommend Services They Offer

It's next to impossible for any marketing partner to be an expert in, let alone knowledgeable about, all things marketing. Pay attention to what your partners recommend. Does your digital partner only suggest online solutions? Does your video partner ever encourage you to try something other than video? Successful marketing programs require an ecosystem of partners and vendors working together. Overlapping services often cause friction, but it's paramount for partners to recognize the role they play in a grander scheme and collaborate to make a difference. Do not tolerate or incentivize infighting.

Reason to Stick It Out: They Represent the Previous Regime

Here's a scenario we see all the time. New leadership enters an organization and boots out the existing partnerships to remove any remnants of the past. Give the incumbents a chance. It's hard to know how much say the previous team had regarding strategy, tactics, or creative. A good shop will listen to you with fresh ears and help support your vision.

Reason to Switch: They Consider Industry Trends Must-Haves

Be wary of partners who start recommendations with, "You need." Do you need a presence on every social site? Do you need a new, modern logo? Do you need fresh annual campaign concepts? Do you need a robust website platform? Do you need automation? Do you need a rewards program? New initiatives require resources and demand a time commitment above what's already in place. There are several foundational channels or strategies you should consider, but we caution that you need any of them without intimately understanding what you aim to accomplish.

Reason to Stick It Out: They Think About You Off The Clock

We don't suggest they work for free or prepare lavish presentations on spec. We mean they do the little things to let you know your success matters to them. It could be something as simple as forwarding on an industry article you might find interesting (they earn bonus points if they select a few highlights). They might sketch an idea on a napkin and text a photo of it to you. They genuinely care about your well-being as much as your bottom line. Relationships matter.

Reason to Switch: They Consistently Go Over (or Under) Budget

We're not talking about how much things should cost. What we are saying is, that at its core, a budget and scope of work are an agreement on value. You get X value from Y deliverables for $Z. A partner shouldn't charge you for writer's block. A partner shouldn't let a project get to version eight, revision five before pumping the breaks and level setting. Conversely, routinely going under budget means an inability to support other initiatives and puts both partners in scramble mode deciding where to invest. Haste makes waste.

Reason to Stick It Out: They Deliver Work That Delights

It's easy to view this reason to stay through the lens of creative output. A funny concept or uplifting script should evoke the intended emotion. But delight applies to so much more. Listening to an analytics report should delight by giving you a clearer picture of how audiences are interacting with your brand. Walking through a media plan should instill confidence that as many of the right people are going to see your message. There's even delight in status updates and budget reports when things make progress according to plan. Just because an organization takes marketing seriously, doesn't mean working with a partner can't boost your mood or serve as the highlight of your week.

Now you've got a decision to make. Stay, go, or somewhere in between.

Reach out to us if you want to see what we can do. A lot of firms say there's no pressure, but it's tough to prove. You'll have to take us at our word. Luckily, we're pretty good at keeping ours. Look no further than the client relationships we've had for decades. Set up a call. Send us a message. A little conversation could be the start of something big.


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