When businesses hire marketing agencies, it is an exciting time. Ideas are flowing and motivation is high — but when months pass and the results aren't happening as you’d hoped, you might be faced with the difficult decision to let your marketing agency go.
First of all, the fact that you’re here means you’re about to make a very hard choice, and we’re sorry to hear it. Maybe you’ve already made up your mind to go through with it, but you’re not sure how to fire your marketing agency the right way.
Wherever you are in this important business decision, you need to take a few steps to end the relationship to make sure you cover your tracks and set your business up for continued success.
In this article, we’re going to explain:
How to know if it truly is time to fire your marketing agency.
Steps to take when offboarding your agency and ending the relationship.
How to proceed after the service end date.
What to consider before jumping into hiring another marketing agency.
With this information, not only will you learn exactly how to approach this difficult situation in the appropriate way, but you will also learn how to preserve the privacy of your company and ensure you’re covered after parting ways.
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Signs you need to fire your marketing agency
When businesses hire a marketing agency but don’t see the growth they’d hoped for, it’s difficult to know if the time is right to fire your agency or if there is a way to salvage that relationship. You might be thinking about how much time and effort it’s taken to find the agency, and maybe there are things you can do to help make it work. But trust us when we say that waiting too long can be costly.
Here are the red flags to be aware of when deciding whether or not to let your marketing agency go:
You haven't seen a serious uptick in sales opportunities after six months: Marketing strategies can take a while to plan and implement, but they shouldn’t take too long. Although your business should expect a planning period and time to get things rolling, you should ideally be seeing big results within the six-month mark.
The tone and style of the content they produce don’t sound like your brand: One of the biggest setbacks we see businesses that work with outside marketing agencies struggle with is that the content being produced for them doesn’t sound like them. We see a lot of businesses experience this when hiring freelancers too. It’s very difficult to get an agency or outside party to capture who you are as a business if they don’t focus solely on you — and with other clients to juggle, they will never be able to.
No one at your business is excitedabout the agency’s work: This is a major indication the marketing strategy is falling flat and doesn’t have the command it needs to create real change. An effective marketing agency will not only have an exciting strategy in place for your business but will be generating results that are motivating for your team.
There’s a lot of employee turnover at the agency: A high turnover rate at your agency is never a good sign. You want to find an agency where the employees are happy and bought into the agency's vision. This is an indication that what they're doing is going to foster stronger coaches and leadership — which means a better outcome for your business.
No one knows how to use the expensive marketing tools you’re paying for: When you hire a marketing agency, there will inevitably be tools you’ll need to get the job done. If no one is using them to the full extent, however, you’re wasting your investment and you should rethink how you’re spending your marketing budget.
We especially see these issues happening with many of today’s inbound marketing agencies; when it comes to delivering the right strategy that generates traffic, leads, and sales, few can make it happen.
This is because, as IMPACT Director of Training Justine Thomas explains, “They’re doing everything, soup to nuts. They’re coming up with a strategy, they’re pitching it, and they’re implementing it. But most of the things agencies strategize about are recycled ideas they've used with other clients. What works for Client A may not work for Client B, and so more often than not, your success will be hit-or-miss.”
So be sure to make the best decision possible for your business sooner rather than later. You want to act fast if things aren’t working out so it doesn’t end up costing you in the long run.
A step-by-step guide to ending your relationship with, and then offboarding, your marketing agency
So you’ve made the decision to fire your marketing agency. There’s no turning back.
Here’s what to do:
Review your current contract so you know how much notice you need to provide. The first step to firing your marketing agency is to know your contract. It’s important to know the terms of your separation, how much notice you need to provide, and the rest of the conditions you’ve agreed to so you can keep them. Most agreements require 30 days notice, but you don’t want to be caught unaware. If there is no time frame specified, set one. Just be sure to give your business enough time to wrap up loose ends.
Communicate your decision concisely and make sure it comes from decision-makers. Tell the agency you’re ending the relationship quickly, and give them specific feedback, if you can, as to why you’re ending the collaboration. Also, be sure it comes from your leadership team so there’s no confusion or too much back and forth.
Plan when and how to end current projects. If you're in the middle of a project with your agency, ask the agency to provide you with a timeline detailing how they will complete it before the service end date. This will ensure you’re not left with unfinished work you need to complete on your own.
Require admin access to all company accounts. Believe it or not, some businesses miss this step and let agencies keep access to their private business accounts. Make sure your agency hands you access and ownership of all the relevant accounts you may not have access to or be the admin/owner of so you can then remove them and change passwords and access, etc. These accounts typically include:
Google suite tools, such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Google My Business, and Google Adwords.
Social media pages and accounts.
Third-party accounts, such as HubSpot, Semrush, Hotjar, Lucky Orange.
Request they send all files. Ask the agency to zip and provide you with all files from your time working together. If you’ve used a project management tool, such as Basecamp, ask how long you will have access to them so you can take all the necessary files with you before ending any projects.
Once your service end date is over, be sure to remove agency users from all company accounts (HubSpot, WordPress, Google suite tools, social media, etc.). This is so they can no longer access your company’s metrics and private data.
Once these steps are complete, it’s time to set yourself up as soon as possible for your business’s next chapter.
Should you outsource marketing again?
Before hiring another marketing agency, you need to think about what matters to your business. If it’s important to you that your messaging resonates with your buyers better than anyone else in your industry, you want to insource the most important pieces of your marketing efforts.
You want the people on your team who are familiar with your business to be the voice of your brand. Your subject-matter experts, in-house sales teams, and content managers will know more about your business than any outside marketing agency or freelance writer ever could.
Anything that is core to the way you operate your business and marketing on a day-to-day basis should be in-house, such as:
Content management: You need the people on your team to obsess over your content day in and day out, making sure you’re publishing three times per week and getting the type of content you need. If your company is set on being the voice of the buyer in your industry, then you will want to follow in the footsteps of the most successful companies we work with — and their first step is always getting their content right and published at a regular cadence. This includes blog articles, buyers guides, email campaigns, and anything else that is core to your strategy and ongoing.
Video production: Same goes for video. Just think about all the questions your buyers are asking during the sales process. Hundreds if not thousands of questions need to be addressed and discussed on your website, and with video being such an important part of marketing strategies today, it should also be a large part of what your business focuses on every day.
HubSpot management: With so much to analyze and keep on top of, no marketing agency is going to manage your CRM like an in-house specialist, whether you’re using HubSpot or another tool. You want to have constant access to analytics and reports from the marketing tools that provide the most accurate and reliable data.
You want to outsource the complicated projects that require a lot of technical skill but are on a part-time basis, such as:
Large technical or one-off projects, such as software integrations, brand development, website design.
Paid advertising, such as on Google or social media.
Never rely on an outside marketing agency
Although it’s tempting to hire a marketing agency to take care of your strategy and messaging, you will never get the results you’re looking for unless you bring the most important pieces in-house. Things like marketing strategy, content creation, and data analytics are all parts of the marketing process your business can’t afford to hand off to a company that will never get what you do.
Here at IMPACT, we’ve helped thousands of B2B and B2C companies like yours take charge of your own inbound marketing strategy and make millions in revenue with a simple-to-implement framework called They Ask, You Answer.
Also, learn more about the They Ask, You Answer approach to inbound marketing with our free course, They Ask, You Answer fundamentals with Marcus Sheridan, and start building your strategy today — in-house, using the people who care most about the success of your company.