Sick of toxic relationships with marketing agencies?

Tim Donoghue

Posted by Tim Donoghue 20th May 2019 Tips and advice

Tips and advice

Toxic relationships with marketing agencies?

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Advice from the top 3%.

There are more than 50,000 marketing agencies in the UK, all offering the same services, each one promising they’ll help your business succeed.

Some of them are experts at marketing, others are better at bullshitting – the problem is, it’s difficult to tell one from another until you’re a year into the relationship, thousands of pounds down and still stuck at square one with your original objectives.

This guide is going to help you break that tiresome and tedious cycle of disappointment and wasted money. It’ll give you the knowledge you need to make the right decisions when choosing your next marketing partner; decisions that lead to long and fruitful relationships for your business. Hooray!


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1. First date? Go on, invite them in for coffee

Your prospective agency will inevitably invite you to their place, and you should definitely go – it shows they’re not hiding anything about their set-up and it’ll give you a chance to meet the wider team.

However; if this is going to be a two-way relationship in the months and years ahead, it needs to start the same way.

Return the invite and have a couple of their team over to your offices to meet people, get a feel for the place and properly understand your business, before anything is signed. Any hesitance and you’ll have good reason to doubt their commitment to you as a client.

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2. Big fish? Little fish? Find out where you’d rank

Any decent agency will always have other clients to think about, but you still need a decent chunk of their time.

Look at the agency’s size and the type of clients already on board; where will you fit in their eyes? If you’re signing terms with a large agency and you’ll be their smallest client, there’s every chance you’ll become an expendable afterthought before long.

If you’re the biggest fish in their little pond, they’ll probably do whatever it takes to keep you happy; but then you have to wonder if they have the resources necessary to get the results you want. Try and keep yourself in the top half of the table at least.

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3. Ask real clients, get real answers

Most agencies will tell you what you want to hear to get you on board, it’s just that some will back it up during the relationship and some won’t. Instead of just looking for kind, trustworthy faces, speak to those who know best – existing clients – about their experiences.

An existing client is a neutral party; they’ve been in your exact position before, and they chose to take the plunge with this particular agency. They’re now further down the line and should have no problem telling you whether they have any regrets about that decision. Find a client of a similar size in the same industry and you might as well have a crystal ball.

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4. Set communication expectations early and formally

Your marketing agency should be seen as an extension of your in-house team, and while you won’t want the phone to ring every five minutes, it shouldn’t be left to them to decide when an update is appropriate.

Lay down your expectations before anything is agreed and take notice of the agency’s reaction. Insist on structured reports, delivered on time – and if you can get round-the clock visibility of your campaign performance in some way, even better. Put your requirements into the contract too, it’ll save you having to fend off dodgy excuses should the agency start slacking later on.

5. Get guarantees and hold your agency to them

Your washing machine is six months old; it’s no longer keeping your clothes clean and for some reason there’s a weird smell coming from the back. What do you do? You call the store you bought it from and have them sort it out or give you your money back. Make sure your marketing agency is ready to take the same kind of responsibility before signing any contracts.

A service level agreement (SLA) will define what’s expected from the agency and lay out the consequences of falling short. What do you consider marketing success? And what happens if the marketers don’t deliver? Once again, you set the expectations here, but be realistic. If there’s any hesitance to work with you on this, run for those hills.


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Where does Clickoo fit in all this?

As Paid Media agencies go, we certainly have a lot going for us. We’re in the top 3% of agencies in the UK, have a multilingual team of proven experts from around the world and boast a long list of satisfied clients from a range of industries.

So, while we can’t promise Clickoo will be the perfect match for your business, it’s only because we don’t know you yet. And we’d love to change that, so we’re ready for a chat when you are.

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