How Do You Know When to Change Marketing Agencies?

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Your digital marketing partner is a critical investment in the success of your business. Brands need a partner they can count on to deliver results, communicate and drive strategy. We’ve heard plenty of bad stories about working with marketing agencies. Marketing is a long-term investment built on relationships, performance and results.

How Can You Tell If a Marketing Agency is Bad?

Far be it from us to label our industry colleagues as “bad” at marketing. Most agencies are professional, committed and genuinely passionate about their work. When the client-agency relationship sours, it’s often due to one of these reasons.

Related: How to Choose a Marketing Agency

  1. The agency has different ways of working. Are the client and agency on the same page? Even when things start off on the right foot, both parties can lose sight of established goals, priorities and workflows. Breakdowns like this can be caused by company or agency turnover, a new direction by the company or the introduction of new tools that change how work is delivered.
  2. Collaboration is key to success. Clearly define responsibilities, revisit goals and create an environment that encourages both parties to ask questions.
  3. The agency is unreliable. Does your marketing agency do what they say they’re going to? The occasional missed deadline happens. If your marketing partner is consistently missing important delivery dates, it’s time to take a hard look at their work. Brands also rely on a professional level of work; if you’re constantly forced to ask for comprehensive revisions or fix mistakes, your agency isn’t a reliable contributor to your success.
  4. Poor communication. The root of any relationship is communication. Set expectations around how to contact your agency, who your primary contact will be and ground rules about when reaching out is acceptable. Being able to call or email with requests or questions during normal business hours is the bare minimum to expect from any agency. Bad marketing agencies tend to communicate poorly, with unreturned calls and emails, delayed responses and unclear answers.
  5. There are no clearly defined goals. Early in the relationship, brands and agencies should identify optimistic goals. A useful goal is aspirational yet achievable within the scope of work and the length of your marketing agreement. Along the way, agencies rely on key performance indicators (KPIs) to show they’re on the right track.
  6. The agency promises things that are too good to be true. There are no sure things in marketing. Should other marketing agencies guarantee results, take their claims with a grain of salt. A good agency will present its performance within the context of all marketing efforts and broader factors, such as market fluctuations or the rise of new competitors in the space.

You won’t deal with any of this when you work with Oneupweb. Get a feel for what our process is like.

(Very) Valid Reasons to Fire Your Marketing Agency

Sometimes switching marketing agencies comes down to simply needing fresh ideas and enthusiasm. There are times to immediately cut ties with your marketing partner.

  • Damaging your brand. Some mistakes have long-lasting consequences for brands. Marketing campaigns that are poorly received happen; campaigns that offend, present inaccurate information or cause widespread customer protest shouldn’t happen twice.
  • Repeated mistakes. Marketing agencies aren’t perfect, but they should learn from their mistakes. The agency may not value your time and business if you’re constantly facing the same delays or misunderstandings.
  • Legal issues. Marketing agencies that use unlicensed photography and video, plagiarize blog content or misrepresent the source of their work put your company in legal jeopardy. If this line is ever crossed, fire your marketing agency immediately.

Terminating Your Agency the Right Way

If you think it’s time to switch marketing agencies, start with an honest conversation. Keep this discussion within a small group and clearly state your frustrations and the changes needed to collaboration, communication or deliverables. Meetings like this can often resolve problems and reestablish your working relationship.

If you’re not happy with the conversation, it’s time to move on. Here’s how:

  • Review your marketing agreement for the specific requirements to terminate the contract. Most agreements will include 30, 60 or 90 days notice, which means you’ll still be paying for services during that time. There may also be financial penalties for early termination.
  • Communicate your decision clearly, professionally and concisely. Avoid leaving the situation ambiguous and set expectations for transitioning the workload between your team and the agency.

Related: Paid Media Account Management Best Practices

How to Transition to a New Marketing Agency

There’s nothing like a fresh start to reinvigorate your marketing efforts. When you’ve found that new special marketing partner, put everybody in a position to succeed. Preparing to change marketing agencies may take a little time and effort, but it will guarantee your new partnership starts off on the right foot.

Gain (and Grant) Access – Make sure you have the keys to all of your digital properties; that means Google Analytics and Ads accounts, Google Business Profiles, all your social media accounts and periphery tools you may use. During the transition, grant the appropriate access to your new agency and revoke permissions held by the previous agency.

Align on Goals – Put your broader business and marketing goals on the table. Ask your new agency to contribute additional goals or KPIs in the short-term (think 6-12 months) and the long term. Make sure these goals are backed by a data-driven, full-funnel marketing strategy; think of it as connecting the dots of where you are and where you want to go!

Make Time – Most marketing agencies will ask for at least one or two meetings once all the contracts and agreements are signed. Give the agency a week or two to do some digging. This phase often includes set-up tasks like a technical site audit, social media audit or a content gap analysis. Expect to discuss those findings and establish priorities during the ramp-up period – the more your teams align now, the less back-and-forth is required later on!

Change Is a Good Thing

Brands change marketing agencies for a lot of reasons, and it’s not always based on a negative experience. Finding a new agency can put fresh, creative eyes on your brand, products and services and rejuvenate your marketing efforts. Working with a new agency may also present new marketing tools, platforms and opportunities that weren’t available through your old partner.

When You’re Ready to Switch Marketing Agencies…

…call Oneupweb. We’re a fully integrated marketing partner with more than two decades of experience in B2B, B2C, franchise and other industries. Tap into fresh ideas and creative solutions driven by data; contact us or call 231-922-9977 to get the ball rolling.

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