Do You Really Want to Fire Your Marketing Agency?

How do you know when it’s time to fire your marketing agency?

Sometimes agencies have trouble getting behind client work and understanding the business. They may not perform as well as expected or may simply have different styles than the organizations they represent. 

Is this something that you’ve had trouble with recently? 

If your answer is yes, know that it may be time to move on and find a different marketing partner

Before you fire your marketing agency, here are some tips to help you understand whether now is the right time and how to let go with respect.

Spot the Red Flags

Are you noticing a problem or two that might be just temporary glitches or something more serious that means you need to let the agency go?

Was it a matter of misunderstood expectations that a conversation can smooth out, or something more serious?

First off, when working with a marketing agency, seeing growth and ROI can take some time. We can’t expect to see considerable improvements right away. So it’s essential to check and see if you are being realistic with your expectations. 

Here are some red flag issues you will want to investigate: 

  • If it’s been over six months and you haven’t seen any considerable growth 
  • You are not seeing achievable goals (e.g., monthly KPIs) being met 
  • You are consistently rejecting their ideas because you don’t think they fall in line with the brand
  • Your team or the agency does not seem genuinely enthusiastic about working together—is the team culture toxic?
  • If you see a lot of turnover in the agency 
  • The agency constantly asks about information, they should already have
  • The agency appears to be “throwing the kitchen sink” of solutions at you instead of being strategic

I believe that the best clients inspire great work from their agencies, but it’s not always easy to find the best fit. Contact me if you’d like help finding an agency that genuinely gets your organization. 

Evaluate Current and Past Performance 

Have you evaluated the agency’s performance? 

You know that old saying, “what gets measured improves.” With your current marketing agency, you may have had high hopes. You may have spent plenty of time working out an agreement, planning, and strategizing in a way that looked fantastic. 

Still, it’s crucial always to come around to the present and evaluate before you decide to fire your marketing agency.

Some questions to consider as part of the evaluation: 

  • Can you think of concrete examples where they are not meeting your expectations?
  • Any quality issues regarding the content or other marketing materials? 
  • Are they staying accountable to performance metrics? 
  • Are they responding quickly and providing the correct information when you need it? 
  • Do they respect your time and work routines? 
  • Do they inspire you with their proposed ideas? 
  • Are KPIs (traffic, leads, and/or sales) moving somewhat in the right direction, or has there been a severe downturn? 

Before moving forward with termination, check the contract agreement to ensure you are within terms. It’s important to stay within the terms and respect agreed-upon time frames. Usually, there is a 60-day window requested for notice. Don’t push the termination too quickly unless there is a serious reason. 

If you’re working on performance reviews, try to establish checkpoints well ahead of time with clear goals. It’s also a good idea to discuss how you will handle feedback when you establish (or re-negotiate) the agency agreement.

I can help you with everything from performance evaluation to contract negotiations.  

Identify Systemic Problems (Versus Single Challenges) 

When considering whether or not to fire your marketing agency, I encourage you to first consider some important points about what goals and targets were missed and why. 

Could these things be adjusted or solved in the current arrangement? Could expectations be adjusted to reflect more realistic deadlines or accountability procedures? 

The idea here is to understand where consistent underperforming is the problem, or if you can do things to adjust expectations and goals to meet both parties’ needs better. 

It’s also worth noting that your organizational management and team members could assess whether or not they are communicating well, managing the agency resources well and meeting expectations.  

Self-evaluation is critical here; consider hiring a consultant to help you work out the snags and give you an objective perspective on possible areas of improvement. 

What to do Before You Fire Your Marketing Agency

Before moving forward, I hope that you seriously consider doing a thorough review, taking into account what is noted above. 

It’s important to realize that the decision to change agencies will lead to several months of interrupted work before your new agency is on board. 

Remember, you’ll be starting from scratch. Finding the new agency, briefing the new agency, and getting it up to speed will take some time. It could take close to a year to regain the level of knowledge and momentum you have now.

If you decide to go forward with letting the agency go, remember that this will be a difficult conversation for both you and the agency. Develop a script for your conversation that clearly states your decision and the reasons why.  No matter how disappointed or frustrated you may be, it’s important to remain calm and be empathetic to the agency that receives this unfortunate news. Approach this with the same sensitivity you would use with an employee.

Be sure to take stock of all shared information and make a plan to change passwords and reclaim any sensitive information that has been shared.  

You may want your legal department to help with an appropriate contract termination letter or check online for templates. 

Other tips include: 

  • Developing a transition plan 
  • Prepping your budget to manage the possible fallout 
  • Leaving some fallow time instead of rushing into another agency relationship 
  • Getting help from a consultant 

When a relationship breaks down, both parties have some responsibility. Be sure to look inward to critically assess what you as a client (and your team) can do to prevent this from happening again.

Don’t Lose Hope… But Do Get Help!   

Is it time to fire your marketing agency? This is likely going to be a tough decision. Unfortunately, client-agency relationships don’t always go smoothly. 

But, you can recover if your last agency relationship was unsuccessful. So, don’t give up. Instead, consider using a different strategy next time.

A consultant can help you find a better agency match to meet your business goals and values.

If you’re making a move towards a new agency partnership, getting the proper support can go a long way. 

I offer marketing agency search and performance management services to organizations looking to partner with the best agencies. If you want to learn more about how I can help, please reach out

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