2014-06-27 20.44.01It’s true that breaking up is hard to do…no matter who’s (or what’s) on the receiving end of the break-up.

It’s particularly never any fun when it’s a marketing agency.  Just like a real romantic relationship…it started strong…it looked so promising…he seemed to have so much substance and zest for life.

Then it started to fade.  I had to call him.  His enthusiasm faded.  He seemed to no longer care.

Does the Break-Up Sound Familiar?

In too many of our annual surveys among marketers, too many marketers tell us year after year that the top reasons why marketers break off relationships with marketing agencies is because they stop being proactive, they stop being strategic, and they stop bringing new ideas to the table.

So while the relationship may have started strong, it either quickly or eventually breaks down and nobody wins.

So What To Do?

If you find yourself in a situation like this, talk to your agency principal.  Let them know what’s going on.  Share with them the disappointment and see what they do.

If the problems persist, it’s probably time to break it off.

It’s Never Easy, But It’s Necessary

Severing ties with an agency is never an easy thing.  Transitioning content, intellectual capital, and all the executional ins/outs of running the business can be a mighty task…but it’s a necessary one if you’re going to move your business forward.

How Can You Make It Easier?

For starters, don’t tell your current agency you’re looking – and don’t include them in the search because you feel sorry for them.  Most times, current agencies never win.  As you move your way through the transition, you want your current agency as “all-in” as they are capable of being.

During the review process, have the finalist agencies discuss their transition plan as part of their presentation.  And when you make a final agency selection, have the new agency help drive the train of transition right along side of you.

Best to give your current agency a reasonable amount of time (say a month or two) to make the transition.  Not only will it be smoother for you, but fair for them.


Mark is a 30-year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark started his career at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to earning his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Prior to starting RSW/US in 2005, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson and KAO Brands. Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences domestically and internationally including the 4A’s, Magnet, NAMA, TAAN, and MCAN. Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes. When not working (which often seems like not often), Mark likes to run miles, go to church, and just chill with a hard copy issue of Fast Company.