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Your relationship with your marketing agency is just like a relationship with a significant other, with the difference being a lot more money involved. Sometime the two just don’t fit together, no matter how much you try to make it work. It can take some time before you see the signs, and by then it might be much too late. You might be in the middle of a campaign or have already sunk lots of money into the partnership, which makes it much more difficult to cut them off and leave.

In order to save you the pain and expense, I’ve listed down six signs that it’s time to save your brand and take your business elsewhere.

Communication Problems

Are you trying to reach your account manager, only to be given excuse after excuse? Does the agency take too long to respond to your messages? Chances are you’ve been bumped down a few spots on the priority list in favor of bigger accounts. This often happens with smaller businesses that don’t have the budget for ambitious or high-volume marketing plans.

Don’t put up with this kind of treatment. You should be given the same value as other clients, and if your current agency won’t do it, find someone who will. At SpellBrand, we put communication at the forefront. In fact, I am directly accessible by all clients – as the CEO. I pick up the phone all the time.

Outdated Strategies

Marketing agencies are supposed to be on the cutting edge of new media and marketing techniques such as social media channels and email newsletter campaigns etc. But if their idea of social media promotion is to set up a MySpace page, then you need to step back and start looking for somebody else.

Bait and Switching the Teams

Everyone puts their best foot forward at the start of a relationship. For agencies, this might mean using the best project team to present their marketing pitch. But pay attention to those names and remember them after you sign your retainer contract. If those names disappear from your contact list, only to be replaced by people whom you’ve never heard of, chances are your account has been assigned to a lesser “B” team instead.

While the “B” team might actually do a decent job of it, this kind of sneaky behavior is a turn-off that might indicate how the agency might handle the rest of your relationship—particularly if things go bad.

They’re Ignorant about Your Business

Ideally, you want to be represented by people who actually know the business they’re promoting. This prevents embarrassing mistakes and helps generate useful ideas. But if the agency’s philosophy is “fake it ‘til you make it”, and even you can tell that they’re faking, then how can they fool the customer?

Thankfully, this is one sign you can read well before the relationship actually begins. Scan their list of former clients and see if there are any businesses related to yours. If you don’t see any, don’t be afraid to ask—the list might not be complete. Quiz them on what they know about your industry and any significant related experience.

Self-centered Mindset

Watch out for “award hunters” that are in it for their own purposes. These are the ones who push for lofty, high-profile events that don’t really fit with your intended direction or budget. Likewise, agencies that nag you for more events, ads, and campaigns without checking their effectiveness might be trying to bleed money out of your bank account, without regard for how much value you’re getting out of the deal.

Wild Guarantees

No agency worth their salt would ever make inflated guarantees just to land an account. First of all, it’s nearly impossible to predict how customers would react to a marketing campaign. Second, it’s crass, lowbrow, and grossly unprofessional. There’s a reason that guarantees like those are relegated to late-night shopping channels and used car salesmen.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.