Should you fire your agency?
No relationship is perfect. Whether it's a romantic coupling or a client-agency arrangement, where ever people are involved there will be differences of opinion, points of tension, possible clashes, or downright disagreements. (If there aren't, one side may not be their truest or sincerest self - and their bubbling feelings may soon erupt!)
If we put aside a degree of human nature to be expected in relationships, then we need to assess the situation as objectively and clearly as possible. (Read: try not to let emotions get in the way).
You're probably reading this because you're coming to the end of your tether with your appointed agency. Perhaps they've let you down on more than one occasion. Maybe there's been some miscommunication. Or maybe things aren't going as expected.
Before you read on, you might find our previous blog posts helpful; from deciding whether the agency route is the right option for you full stop, to selecting and getting the most out of them.
Should I fire my agency? The quality is lacking and I'm getting frustrated.
We feel your pain on this one. There's nothing more exasperating than entrusting an external partner to deliver certain work and for it to fall short. Before we get into this one, DO check in with yourself first:
Have you clearly briefed the agency and communicated your expectations? In terms of output, quality, timelines, communication, and budgets?
Have you supplied your partner agency with the relevant materials to help them deliver their best work? For example: brand guidelines, creative references, or previous examples?
Have you agreed upfront what needs to be delivered with the resources available? (Time and money?)
There is of course such a thing as an impossible brief - whether it's down to not having enough time, information, or budget available to achieve your results. But if you can say yes to ALL of the above - and you've provided helpful feedback (hint: "I'll know it when I see it" is NOT helpful feedback!) then they may not be the right fit for you...
Should I fire my agency? Deliverables have not materialised, despite multiple promises.
This is a rare one, so we sympathise with you if you find yourself in this situation.
You've sat patiently waiting for the artwork, campaign, or strategy to ping into your mailbox. Silence. You've not wanted to be a pest so you've gently nudged a couple of times. Your response is always the same; "It'll be with you shortly!" despite the timeline already having slipped...
The chances are the agency is up to their eyeballs with work - and/or not enough staff to manage the workload. This is down to poor management and of course not your fault. If your deliverables are yet to materialise, then there's also a solid chance you're somewhere down the bottom of the pecking line of the agency's client list, too. Again, not your fault.
There are benefits to being a smaller fish in a bigger pond with an agency who services bigger clients than you. They can share learnings and expertise from their work with the big dogs, and there's possibly some kudos to being on the same client list as bigger brands - simply by association.
But when the work starts to suffer as a result - and the agency are still billing you - then it's time for a serious chat with agency management before parting ways.
Should I fire my agency? They keep sending me bills for work.
Agencies can be notoriously expensive, but - with the rise of new work models and on-demand solutions - some healthy competition has forced the big agencies to re-visit their pricing.
That being said, agency fees should all be cleared upfront with you - right from the get-go in your contract with them. Fees should be detailed in the agreed scope of works, and ideally also include the out-of-scope rates, should you need extra help one month.
If you keep receiving bills for work from the agency, and you're not sure exactly what the invoices are for, then double-check with your main contact to clarify. Make sure any extra work is clearly agreed upfront, so you don't get any nasty surprises.
If you're wondering whether it's time to call it a day with your agency, and you can tick off the items from the below list, then it's time to rip off the Band-Aid and move on:
You've been honest with yourself and the situation, and done all you can to help from your side. (Clear briefing, open communication, set realistic expectations, etc.)
You've given them multiple chances to redeem themselves, and they just keep coming up short.
They are in serious breach of your previously-agreed contract, and verbal discussions have not helped overcome these issues.
This is part of Bloom's content series to help save a lot of headaches for both agencies and clients. Make sure you've read Part 1: 'Should you work with an agency? 3 key questions to ask yourself first;' Part 2: 'How to select an agency: 5 ways to decide;' Part 3: 'From pitch to partnership: 3 golden tips for agency success' and; Part 4: 'How to get the best from your agency.'
Bloom is an award-winning brand marketing agency for high-growth tech scale-ups. Our work has been featured in the likes of Forbes, The Independent, Sifted, and Startups Magazine - with clients listed in the UK's Top 5 Startups of the country. Book a call or get in touch here to find out what makes Bloom the tech industry's favourite agency.