Is Your Incumbent Agency The Right Agency?


Ever get a gnawing feeling you may not have the right agency but aren’t quite sure why?  Well, here are five warning signs that you may have a deeper problem than normal day-to-day issues and you should consider ways to triage quickly or start thinking about your options for an agency review process:

 1. Your agency’s vision is lacking or substantially different from yours

This issue tends to come up most often with marketers who have had their incumbent agency for a long time – simply because the vision may have been clear and aligned when the agency was appointed, but alignment has drifted over the years. If you’re not sure what your agency vision is for your business (or theirs), or you haven’t asked in several years – why not ask?  It’s a great starting point to recast and redefine your relationship.

2. Your agency is (still) struggling with digital integration

The most common frustration we hear from marketers with digital thinking as it relates to their business is that it’s “an afterthought”. The best starting point is to define where the real digital thought leadership in the agency is coming from. Is it in their strategy department?  Is it coming from somewhere else (and why aren’t they on your business…)? And, most important, what is the senior leadership of the agency bringing to the table in digital vision, resources and leadership?

3. You’re encountering ongoing contractual or financial issues

Hiccups on individual invoices are one thing, but ongoing disconnects between agency fees and marketer requirements, or quality or volume of resources servicing your business are another. First question to ask in these situations is, “when did we last look at our agency contract?” If it’s more than three years since you reviewed requirements and terms, it’s likely an opportunity do a contractual review to redefine requirements.

4. Your agencies aren’t collaborating as well as you think they should

Whether collaboration issues are between your staff and the agency or between different agencies, the issues need to be resolved. Given the speed with which ideas now need to be generated and executed based on marketer needs, collaboration – or lack thereof – can’t be allowed to stand in the way of marketer progress. At the very least, a true 360º review process should be implemented to help identify and rectify the collaboration breakdown.

5. Competitors are eating your lunch

OK, that may be a bit strong – but if you feel other marketers or competitors are getting better service or a better product from their agencies, you need to find out why. If you’re satisfied your vision, briefings and your teams are clear, then you may want to consider calling an agency review to find an agency better suited to your needs.

The most effective way to pinpoint, analyze and manage incumbent agency issues is either through a true 360º review process or a stakeholder interview process to give you visibility into both your organization and your agency(s). Contract reviews can help address disconnects in requirements vs. cost. But if all else fails, an agency review may be your best option to create a relationship that’s right for you.

What agency issues keep you awake at night? And what would help give yourself some shut-eye?


Stephan Argent is CEO of The Argedia Group, Canada’s leading agency search and management consultancy. Read more like this on our blog ‘Marketing Unscrewed’. Follow me on Twitter @ArgediaGroup

Photo: Dennis Skley

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