When you first start working with a marketing agency there is inevitably some confusion over communication preferences, goal setting, and performance expectations. However, you should find that working with your agency partner becomes easier over time, and a healthy relationship can be highly profitable. This is because a high-quality agency can provide measurable results and advice tailored to meet the local marketing challenges you face in your specific industry.
But, if you fail to carefully research and vet candidates when selecting a marketing agency, you might end up with a less-reputable firm. Even if you’re working with a good partner, it’s also possible that things change at the agency, causing the relationship to deteriorate and marketing agency frustrations to grow.
Here’s how to respond if you feel that the relationship you’ve built with your agency might not be benefiting your business anymore.
Reevaluate Your Relationship with Your Agency
When examining the partnership, make sure you understand the cause of the disappointment and have the facts. This will help you make a clean break, if necessary, and learn from the experience so you can make better decisions in the future.
Here are four questions to consider when evaluating your agency’s performance to determine if cutting ties is in the best decision for your business.
Did they over promise and under deliver?
Your partner agency is responsible for setting expectations and providing evidence for performance estimates. Yet, to close a sale, the agency rep might get overly enthusiastic about touting the benefits of their services. This can leave you feeling frustrated when short-term results don’t match what they initially promised.
To be fair, at the beginning of any project, a lot of the information necessary to optimize a campaign isn’t immediately available. This means that even the most well-informed performance estimates won’t be 100% accurate. However, your agency needs to be upfront about this and help you understand the process of getting a strategy established.
For example, some tactics, like SEO, take longer than others to generate real results. Your agency partner should clearly explain which ones should yield short-term gains and which ones will generate long-term performance. They should be able to provide evidence to back their claims, as well as a general timeline for when you should start seeing results from your local marketing strategy.
In turn, you need to allow the agency enough time to analyze data and adjust tactics as needed to optimize performance. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners don’t allow for this grace period. Instead, they become suspicious and break with the agency before the marketing campaign has had enough time to get established.
Don’t fire your agency just because you feel like you didn’t immediately see the results they promised — but don’t allow them to string you along with false assurances either. Instead, gather evidence to help you make a decision. After the start-up grace period, run the numbers and gather the facts. It could be that after a rough start, things got on track. However, if you are still not happy, the agency isn’t delivering a good experience, and there’s no strong trend of improvement, then it’s time to consider a new partner.
Did you not live up to your side of the partnership?
A marketing partnership is a two-way street. While it’s on the agency to set expectations, you’re the one who ultimately needs to set the marketing goals they’re aiming to hit. After all, you know your business the best. Both you and your agency are accountable for the health of the relationship and the ultimate success of your marketing strategy.
Often marketing agency frustrations arise from a lack of good communication – by both parties. Remember, the people working at an agency can’t read your mind. Like you, they need clear communication to understand and develop a marketing plan that fits your business needs.
If you’re not engaged and are never available to discuss your local marketing strategy, they won’t know what you want them to focus on. The same goes for providing feedback. If you fail to alert them to something you’re unhappy about, they’re not going to know that there’s a situation that needs to be fixed.
Finally, recognize that the agency can’t do everything for you. Yes, they’re responsible for driving leads, but you have to put in the work of closing the deal and making your customers happy.
Was there new management in place that took time to learn your business?
Turnover happens. Employees leave and the next thing you know, you have a new agency team lead handling your account. When this happens, you might see performance waver during the transitional period.
Don’t automatically assume the worst. It might be that your new account manager brings in fresh ideas that actually boost results. The question is this: is your new account manager taking the time to learn about your business and are they quickly getting things back on track?
Another situation might be that the agency itself changes leadership. As with new account managers, you need to allow them to prove themselves to you.
It might be that they start changing their business model or altering your strategy in ways that you didn’t expect. Ask them to provide information and evidence for any changes they’re implementing. See if the new leadership makes an effort to become familiar with your specific business needs and proactively address your concerns. It is in your best interest to do a fair audit, both of past work and current practices, before deciding if you want to switch.
Were your expectations too high? Was the budget too low to achieve the results you had hoped for?
Another frustration that you might experience is expecting too great a result for your budget. The fact is, an agency’s campaign output is directly related to your input. If you have a small budget, they should work with it to the best of their abilities, but there are limits to what you can expect.
Your marketing campaign needs fuel to make it go. When you start with a small budget, you should also expect to start with relatively small scale marketing. The idea is that both will gradually scale up as marketing helps your business grow.
The economic reality is that you have to have a marketing budget that allows your agency to implement the tactics necessary to create a strong local marketing strategy— for instance, SEO, Google Ads, AND social media marketing. Otherwise, you’re going to be disappointed.
A small, stagnant budget indicates that you’re not serious about marketing. Your agency won’t have the resources to experiment, so they’ll stick with more conservative methods that drive some results, but nothing that will blow you away. If you are truly committed to marketing, create a budget based on what you can afford and plan to increase your spending as your business grows.
Decide on a Path Forward
After you have the facts and have reviewed your marketing agency frustrations, it’s time to decide how to best proceed for your business:
- Make it work with your agency
- It’s possible the situation arose because of unusual circumstances. For instance, there was a lack of clear communication, or the agency experienced some internal turnover, or that external factors caused demand for your industry to drop unexpectedly. What you need to determine is if you are willing to give them a pass.
- Have you and your agency discussed the issue? Have they demonstrated that they understand your concerns and are taking steps to try to prevent a similar thing from happening again? Or does it seem like they’re merely giving you lip service and hoping that it doesn’t become a consistent thing?
- Make a change
- If you decide that you need to break from your current marketing agency, make sure that you carefully review the terms of your contract and any other legal documents.
- Next is to make sure you have administrative access to all of your digital assets — your social media accounts, Google Ads, your website, etc. You should do this even if you’re happy with your agency. You already own these accounts and it’s a major red flag if your agency says that they can’t transfer control to you.
- When you start researching new partners, you might decide that using another agency doesn’t suit your needs. In this case, consider two options: hire an internal marketing team or find an agency antidote like Surefire Local.
The One Question to Answer
The important thing to figure out is how much control are you willing to give up in determining the success of your business.
If you become too reliant on agencies alone, they can control your lead generation, your capacity to scale business, as well as your online identity. This can lead to problems with accountability if they don’t provide you with any way to oversee the work they’re doing on your behalf.
Choosing to run your marketing in-house means you retain more control, but your time will also be divided by running your entire business — not just focused on marketing. Furthermore, you won’t necessarily have access to the wider marketing industry knowledge of an agency.
This is where Surefire Local comes into play. We provide software solutions for your marketing agency frustrations. For example, if you use the Surefire Local Marketing Platform, you control the environment and can invite an agency to manage the daily tasks. This means you have transparency and access to all work being done.
Instead of relying on monthly reports, you can go in and review the effectiveness of those activities on your own to see what could be the best path to take for your business. If you decide to switch agencies, you never have to worry about them holding your digital presence hostage!
Request a Demo of the Surefire Local Marketing Platform to Learn More
Established in 2011, Surefire Local specializes in marketing solutions for any business serving a local area. The majority of our customers are in the home services industry — roofing, siding, remodeling, window replacement, HVAC, and other general contractors, but also in the healthcare and medical industries.
We have earned the distinction of being a Google Premier Partner and have been named to Inc 5000’s Fastest Growing Private Companies for five straight years. Most importantly, we have helped over 3,000 small businesses across North America take control of their digital presence.
The Surefire Local Marketing Platform multiplies your marketing efforts by helping you see and strengthen all your online activities from a single place — website, ratings and reviews, online directory listings, content, pay-per-click ads, social media, analytics, and more.
With our integrated software, you can easily manage and control your entire digital strategy so you can finally get the kind of quality leads you really want.