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You can break up with your agency. We’ll bring the ice cream and the creative.

Eric Groves

By Eric Groves

Chances are, during your prime dating years, you probably dated someone who wasn’t right for you at least once. The problem is that it can take a while to discover that it’s not meant to be. Whether it’s the slow progression of your loved one taking you for granted, leaving their junk lying EVERYWHERE, or never asking you about your day anymore, they’ve gotten too comfortable.

If you’re like most of the fish in the sea, there was a point in a bad relationship where you felt unimportant or taken for granted. At a point, you might’ve thought, “hmmm, maybe I can do better. I need to rethink this.”

No one wants to be in a relationship that isn’t right. It’s no different when it comes to your company’s agency partner.

If you feel like your agency partner is getting too comfortable, that their creative just isn’t cutting it, that they spend more time justifying their billing than they do on your projects, or that lately they’ve dropped the ball and missed a deadline or two, you may be getting that itch. It might be time to break up. You know, call it quits, park it, move on. You deserve better – no, scratch that – you deserve great!

It’s not you. It’s your agency.

We’re not relationship therapists, but we know the signs that it might be time to break up with your agency.

They wine you, dine you, distract you.

Many agencies want to take you under their wing and become a member of the “good old boys” club. Maybe there’s a glass of wine or a cigar involved. Perhaps a clever gift gets slid under your door. They’ll spend 18 holes on a pristine golf course making you feel special, followed by paying for your three-course meal. How could you not like this attention? And how could you in good conscience walk away from your beloved? After all, some days pledging your loyalty for a medium-rare porterhouse might sound like a good swap, but wait! You weren’t born yesterday!

Next time you cut into that beautifully seared steak, ask yourself this: Will this mouthful of meat feed my company’s creative needs in the future? Feeling queasy yet?

They’re too comfortable.

You invest a lot into this relationship. Literally. You spend a decent amount of coin on your agency partner, and you want them to work just as hard at the relationship as you do. If you start feeling like they have locked into the same old routine with you, your gut feeling is probably right. It’s good that they’re tuned into your style, know what you like, and more importantly, have brought some good results. But there’s a difference between knowing what you like and what’s brought results in the past and simply getting lazy with creative and not pushing the envelope.

But maybe you’ve stepped into an existing relationship. If you inherited working with an agency partner that your firm has been loyal to for years, you might not feel comfortable looking at other agencies right away. That’s ok, but know that the amount of time you have been engaged with an agency shouldn’t deter you from making a change if you feel like they aren’t producing the high-level creative you need.

If you think your agency has routinely been cutting corners or not coming up with any new and exciting creative, then in the words of Gloria Gaynor, it’s time for your agency to “go on now and walk out the door!

You can’t stand their crappy creative anymore.” (That’s how the song goes, right?) It’s important to note the word routinely. Because chances are good that every agency you work with will make a few mistakes. Just be wary of the ones who make them consistently, and provide you yawn-worthy creative time and time again, or dial it in after one big win. Don’t stay with an agency simply because you’ve been in the relationship a long time – that’s not any way to survive. Are their egos too big and they are ignoring you?

They don’t handle distance well. (What?! New Yawk City??)

Long distance relationships can be hard. But if you choose an agency that is out of your city, make sure they are dedicated to having on-site meetings and always have open lines of communication. If you’re in Central Iowa, don’t buy into the idea that the grass is always greener or the lights are brighter in the distant city. You might think you’ll get better creative from an agency in a skyscraper, but you shouldn’t count out the hottie next door. After all, we could drop a couple of names…we’ve worked with brand giants Nike and Wellmark. (We know we’re not supposed to kiss and tell, but…we just did.) Mu-wah!

And for all the city slickers working in places like Chicago, Minneapolis, and Kansas City – have you ever thought about looking to outside the concrete jungle for an agency partner?

A hard-working Iowa company that you’re not afraid to bring home to mom would be pretty nice. And would cost a fraction of the price. New Yawk level creative with Iowa pricing sounds pretty good.

Maybe your baby really is ugly.

When is the last time your agency told you something you didn’t like? Maybe it was an idea for pivoting strategy or a blunt talk about the current direction of your website which has all the strategic clarity of mud. A great agency partner should be ready to challenge you, argue their point and keep their eyes open for not only errors but opportunities to grow and improve your business. Sometimes the best advice is what not to do. If your agency is just managing the relationship and not telling it to you straight, then it’s time to tell them you’d like to “see other people.” Sure, there might be hurt feelings. Keep the hankies handy. A whole tub of Ben and Jerry’s and a couple of days later you’ll be feeling much better.

If you think it’s time for an agency change, this might be the moment to say, “we need to talk.” It’s not a bad idea to take a look around for a better match if your contract is expiring soon. If anything, your agency partner will respect you more for holding a high standard of work. As proud and mighty Hippos, we’re not trying to swoop in on the rebound (because honestly, we’re a 10), but we will be here, ready to take your creative from blah to BRAH! in a hot second. Because baby, once you go Hippo, you’ll never go back!

So go ahead, give one of our experts a jingle today. It won’t take much of your time, kind of like speed dating! But way less awkward. If you’re still feeling a little shy…fill out the form below and we can start this relationship digitally, as long as we don’t get catfished.

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