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Bye Felicia: How to Break up with Your Old Ad Agency

Aug 16, 2016 | Inbound Marketing

Nathan Harris

Nathan Harris

Author

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Relationships are hard, especially when they impact your livelihood. No, we’re not talking about an overly clingy partner – we’re talking about your ad agency. Whether they’ve cheated, lied, or were just a deadbeat, there’s no denying that you’ve been scorned. It’s time to remove yourself from an unhealthy situation and move on to greener pastures. However, breaking up with your marketing agency is a little harder than you think. If you’re ready for a nice, clean break, follow these tips:

Do your homework.

While you may feel like you’re having a casual affair with your ad agency (e.g. the occasional phone call, a flurry of emails here and there), you’re married to the agency’s team. Remember that you signed your name on the dotted line to do business with these people. Unlike the moment you were unhappy in a relationship when you were a teenager, you can’t just get up and leave. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait it out and hope that it’ll get better. Comb over your contracts with an attorney so you’re clear on both parties’ obligations. Find out how much notice you need to give before terminating, as well as whether your last month’s retainer will be prorated if you break up mid-month.

Before you get started, learn which pieces of the puzzle you have access to. Can you log into the back-end of your website? Do you have all the passwords to your social media accounts? This way you’ll know which keys you need to ask for when the break-up is complete.

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Have a plan.

The sea may be stormy, but you can’t just jump ship and expect everything to be okay. Even if you’re onboarding another marketing agency the moment the other paperwork goes through, you still have to pencil in some ramp-up time. Keep in mind that transitioning right before or – even worse – during your busy season is a poor decision. So before you bring up the bad news to your partner, make sure you have an escape plan that will let your business run interruption-free. The best bet to a smooth transition? Don’t create bad blood with your ex.

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You may need something from them down the line (e.g. passwords or report data) that you will have a hard time getting access to if you burn bridges.

Be professional.

You’d think that it can go without saying that you shouldn’t break up with your agency through text or email, but you’d be surprised. Don’t even think about disappearing off the face of the earth completely or stop paying your monthly invoices. While breaking up is awkward and painful for everyone involved, remember that you hired the agency for a service. You are a dissatisfied customer, so you have the right to take your business elsewhere. Break up with the agency on the phone, or better yet, in person (where possible). Be sure to follow up in writing to make sure everyone involved is on the same page. Perhaps there was a little miscommunication that you can power through.

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But if not, at least you took the high road. Like all relationships, two parties are involved, and feelings can get hurt. Be upfront and honest about why you’re leaving, and try not to let emotions get in the way. You never know; the feedback you give your (about-to-be) old agency can be invaluable to their future success with other clients.

Move on.

Don’t forget that the reason why you hired a marketing agency was because you didn’t have the bandwidth or resources to do the work yourself. While you may be unhappy in your current agency relationship, you need to know what your next course of action will be. Time heals all wounds, but time is money. Instead of waiting for “the one” to come along after your break-up, start shopping around before contracts are terminated.

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The grass may not always be greener on the other side, but this time around you’ll find an agency that shares the same values as you. Some things to consider when shopping for a new agency are:

  • Niche industries they work with: Have they had experience delivering results for companies similar to yours?
  • Pricing/billing structure: Will they bill you hourly for work completed in a month? Is it more cost-effective to have a monthly retainer? What does the retainer cover?
  • Marketing Channels/Methodologies: What marketing channels do you expect your new agency to offer? Do you need an integrated agency that can help you with both traditional and digital marketing? Should your digital agency also offer SEO, PPC, video marketing, and local listings? Can they help you move towards inbound marketing?
  • Performance Reporting: How will they report back on marketing results? What kind of performance reports will you receive? How often can you expect to see these reports?
  • Communication Methods: Is it important for your new agency to have a presence that is local to your business? Or can your team manage conducting all business over the phone and web?

Are you ready to kick your old agency to the curb? Let us help. Call us today for a free website consultation. We’ll help you plan your next moves and get your marketing goals back on track.

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Bye Felicia: When someone says that they’re leaving (and you couldn’t care less that they are), their name then becomes “Felicia”. Their real name becomes irrelevant because nobody cares what it really is – they’re just “Felicia”. The phrase was first coined in the 1995 movie “Friday” and since then has been a regular expression for such scenarios. (Source: Quora, Urban Dictionary)

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