If addressed early enough and managed proactively, most agency relationship issues are manageable.
Like anything else, managing an agency relationship takes work. It means you have to consider constructive criticism, adapt to change, play nice in the work-place sandbox, and yes, perhaps make some compromises along the way.
But what’s the dividing line between success and failure? When is enough enough? And when is it worth making a compromise to save an agency relationship that’s really worth saving?
Here are a few thoughts that may help you decide whether breaking up or making up is the better option for your business:
Your agency’s vision is lacking or substantially different from yours
This issue tends to come up most often with marketers who have had their incumbent agency for a long time – simply because the vision may have been clear and aligned when the agency was appointed, but alignment has drifted over the years. If you’ve tried to align or respective vision and you’re not in agreement – probably a sign you’re agency is no longer the right agency. Break-up.
You’re encountering ongoing contractual or financial issues
Hiccups on individual invoices are one thing, but ongoing disconnects between agency fees and marketer requirements, or quality or volume of resources servicing your business are another. If you’ve not looked at your contract in a couple of years – start there. Financial issues are inherently solvable if you’re willing to take the time to define your scope of work and agree on what it’ll take to deliver it. Make-up.
Your agency isn’t collaborating as well as you think they should
Whether collaboration issues are between your staff and the agency or between different agencies, the issues need to be resolved. Given the speed with which ideas now need to be generated and executed, collaboration – or lack thereof – can’t be allowed to stand in the way of marketer progress. If your agency isn’t playing, or can’t play nice in the sandbox it’s probably break-up.
Your agency is struggling with digital integration
One of the most common frustrations I hear from marketers with digital thinking as it relates to their business is that it’s “an afterthought”. Digital is now at a maturity level where you need to have complete integration with digital thinking and execution. If that’s not happening or there’s no plan to make that happen – it’s likely a break-up.
Your agency dropped the ball on the last campaign
It happens. With the best planning and intention in the world, things go wrong and campaigns don’t get executed as planned. Screw-ups are a great opportunity to build a better mousetrap by finding out what failed, where and why. Spending time with your agency to figure out how to prevent the same issue from happening again is definitely a time to make-up.
Breaking up is never a preferred solution unless all other avenues for making up have been explored. Where possible get to concerns before they become issues and be as ready to adapt to change as rigorously as you’d expect your agency partners.
Thinking about breaking up? What make-up steps could you take that would prevent it? If you’re stuck for ideas – contact your friendly agency management consultant to find out what you could do to manage your agency relationship and really value the services they provide.