I have worked for many great agencies in my career. I have also conducted agency searches for clients like Jenny Craig, Raley’s Supermarkets, and Jacuzzi. I believe I have a perspective from both sides of the street.
Agency searches take more time than most people think and can be disruptive to an organization. So when it is time to fire your agency? Well there are a number of factors that lead to clients losing trust in their agency partners.
Today clients want agencies to bring them solutions to solve their problems and not sell them stuff. Too many agencies often bring clients ideas that are nothing more than solutions looking for problems. They may be opportunities brought by their media partners and they aren’t really thought through at the agency end and are not strategically focused. If that is what you are getting then your agency may be one dimensional in their approach.
A lack of knowledge of the client’s business is one of the biggest frustrations for clients. Superficial knowledge is not insight. It is painful. Poorly trained account people are not acceptable these days. You need A players at all levels of the team. If you don’t have them ask for them.
If your agency prefaces many of their presentations with the words, “This is what we did last year, this is what we have done before, we’ve always done this,” they are going through the motions. They may not know it but “this is the same thing that we did last year is akin to “we want to lose your business” in my opinion. Technology and consumers are changing too rapidly to accept the same old thing.
If your agency isn’t bringing you new ideas all the time it is time to consider another partner. Business is too tough these days and the brand deserves the very best thinking today. People often ask me how does one stay top of mind with other people. “If you want people to be thinking of you, you have to be thinking of them.” It is that simple. The same thing applies to client agency relationships. If you don’t feel that your agency is always thinking about the business it may be time to find somebody who would. If you rarely see the people that pitched your business and promised their involvement it may be time to look elsewhere where you might get more attention.
If your agency opens every briefing or conversation about a marketing problem with the question “What’s Your Budget?” they aren’t really breaking new ground. Most clients will try to find a budget for solutions they think can be successful.
The agency business is a service business that must be accompanied by a service attitude. If you feel your agency is just an order taker and doesn’t go beyond then they might not be the right partner for you. You need to feel your agency is always infused with passion and interest about your business and the brand. The business is also too hard these days for your agency always to be defensive or worst yet argumentative.
Agency change can cause short term disruption but if they aren’t bringing you their A game then it may bring long term gain.
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