There comes a time in a marketing agency’s life where it no longer provides meaningful value to its client.

It happens.  The world is moving quickly.  There are agencies that simply can’t keep up.  They can’t deliver at the level that you, your management, and your business needs to effectively compete in the marketplace.

We see it all the time.

It’s hard to tell Grandma you don’t like her

We recently had a client come to us who had been in a 20 year relationship with an agency and found that the relationship was now more of a tactical “do-er” relationship versus a relationship where the agency was driving innovation and strategy for the client.

They were driving the agency to innovate.  They pushed the agency to get ahead of the curve in the digital space and they either didn’t care, or simply weren’t capable of getting the marketer to where they needed to be/wanted to be.

It’s tough – for both the marketer and the agency.

Especially for the marketer.  The last thing you want to do – or the last thing you have time to do – is find a better agency that can deliver at a better level for you…but it’s necessary.  You need to make the change.

Break-up 101

Here’s how to best manage the end of a relationship with a long-standing agency.

  1. Honesty.

If you’re in a position where your agency isn’t delivering like it used to, we would argue that the best policy is honesty.  Let your agency know that you’re frustrated. Let them know you expect more.  Let them know that they really need to dial it up if the relationship is going to last.

2. Define your time frame

Give them a timeline – let them know that you want to be fair and give them a chance – but also let them know that you need to dial it up – and quickly.

3. Take an inventory of your assets

Know what you have done and what you have to do and while there’s never a best time to make a switch, find the time when you will be least vulnerable in terms of the assets exposed.  Think about what your agency controls and how to best get what you need back from them.

4. Start looking

A the same time this is happening, we would argue that its best to start looking around…as the likelihood is things aren’t going to change – or they might change for a bit, then they won’t.  We’ve seen it.