Ten Signs You Need A New Agency

three young men with stereo

According to a recent study, clients and agencies may be looking for love in all the wrong places.

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Do you remember the “popular group” in high school? Based on mysterious, unseen forces you were either in the group, or part of the shuffling masses around the edges. Looking back, I’m not convinced that being in the popular group was the deeply affirming experience that was advertised. The brand experience often fell short of its promise.

Regrettably, some of these same dynamics are alive and thriving in many client-agency relationships. In spite of obvious shortcomings, we find ourselves slogging through partnerships that are more promise than pudding. We struggle to find the genuine connections and alignment that lead to great partnerships.

Need evidence? Look no further than this troubling statistic from The Bedford Group:

The average client-agency relationship is thought to be less than three years.

Less than three years?! I have soup in my desk drawer older than three years. Here’s my question to those who are riding the crazy client-agency carousel: How are we supposed to make a meaningful, sustainable impact on businesses and brands without healthy, thriving and lasting partnerships?

Sometimes changing agencies is the best thing that can happen for all involved parties. But based on current client-agency tenure trends, we must be missing something. Perhaps we are suffering from the “popular group” dynamic and establishing our partnerships on the wrong set of criteria.

Based on two decades of experience and observation from the agency side, here are 10 signs that you need a new agency:

  1. Your agency likes to talk, but doesn’t listen.
  2. Your agency’s strategic recommendations are proving to be consistently off the mark.
  3. You need some expertise that your current agency doesn’t possess.
  4. You can’t find momentum and efficiency because the agency team is a revolving door.
  5. Your agency consistently exceeds the budget and/or misses deadlines.
  6. You don’t fully understand or trust your agency’s billing.
  7. Your projects/campaigns take a back seat to your agency’s other clients.
  8. You don’t look forward to calling or meeting with your agency.
  9. Your agency is more interested in winning creative awards than meeting your business objectives.
  10. Your agency doesn’t challenge or inspire you toward better marketing.

My message here is pretty straightforward: major on the majors when it comes to choosing, assessing and developing your ideal client-agency relationship. Identify your list of must-haves. Be transparent about it. Carve out regular time to assess how it’s going. Take some risks.

Let’s agree to never give up our pursuit of great, genuine, high-performing partnerships. Our brands and profession depend on it.

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