June 16, 2016

4 Signs Your Agency Relationship has Stagnated

4 Signs Your Agency Relationship has Stagnated

Agencies are best when they’re eager to impress. When agencies get comfortable, when they feel they no longer have to prove themselves, mediocrity sinks in and the work suffers.

I’ve seen too many organizations stay with agencies that can’t keep up with them. Why do they stay? Because the relationship with the agency is okay. It’s comfortable. And that’s bad for business—the agency’s and the client’s.

Here are four giveaways that it’s time shake up the stagnant relationship.


  1. You see the same ideas recycled.

Fresh ideas show an agency has drive, that they’re hungry to impress you.

The key giveaway that the agency has gone dry is recycled ideas. You’ve probably seen it. You attend a meeting and the agency shows up with the same ideas, concepts, and strategies—even if they didn’t work the last time.

Maybe the agency is burned out, or maybe they don’t care anymore about your product. Or, just as likely, they’ve maxed out their creativity. Either way, recycled ideas speak volumes about the poor state of your relationship with your agency.


  1. Things get a little…slow.

Agencies want to win. That’s the weird thing about us. We want to win the pitch, and then win customers for our clients.

Winners move fast in the marketing world. If you’re slow you’re dead.

Companies should be concerned when their agency takes too long to reply to emails, misses deadlines, or asks for extensions. It’s a sign something’s not right. Did the agency lose interest in the business? Did the agency shift talent, and key people, off the portfolio? Did the agency deprioritize existing business to chase new business, and is that shift hurting you?


  1. They nickel and dime.

We all understand that labor costs money, and that good agency work demands good pay.

Rates will rise, no doubt. And yes, overages cost. But the giveaway that the agency may not be hungry for business—and may not care for the relationship—is when they nickel and dime clients, and every small request results in a new statement of work. That’s how a lawyer behaves, not an agency.

Beware of agencies that hike rates without warning and seem more concerned about statements of work than putting out the best work possible.


  1. Talent leaves.

An agency is as good as its people. It’s a truism because it’s true.

There’s lots of movement in the industry, so we can’t judge an agency just because people come and go. But if an agency can’t keep talent, there’s a problem.

What’s worse is when an agency shifts talent off your projects. When they do that, you know you’ve been downgraded.

If key personnel leave the company, be sure to ask who will replace them. Try to find out why they left, and if you like them enough, where they’re going.


The Solution

Reaching out to another agency, particularly a smaller one, can be just what’s needed to re-energize your marketing organization.

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