In the words of Neil Sedaka, “breaking up is hard to do.” And, while Sedaka sang of heartbreak and lost love, the challenges of navigating a break up with a business partner or vendor can be equally challenging. Alas, deciding to break up with your agency of record and find a new marketing partner is no exception. Businesses and nonprofits invest time and resources in relationship-building, agency education and ongoing collaboration in the hopes of building a long-lasting relationship with the marketing team who is best suited to support their organization. The mere thought of going through that process with someone new can be daunting. That said, it is critical to work with a marketing firm who you trust and feel is operating in the best interest of your organization at all times. Let me say that again: it is critical to work with a marketing firm who you trust and feel is operating in the best interest of your organization at all times. And, on that note, it’s time to talk about navigating the break up.
Securing full access to all marketing assets
Gaining full access to all of your marketing assets – website CMS, social media accounts, etc. – is mission critical when transitioning from one marketing agency to another. You’ll want to be sure that you have full administrator level access to everything so that you can internally, and/or with the support of your new marketing firm, update content as needed. If your website is hosted on the agency’s server, you will also want to get a transition plan for moving the site in place ASAP.
It is important to keep in mind that some marketing assets may be considered proprietary and won’t be handed off. Depending on the agency this may include media lists, direct contact information for specific reporters and producers, and raw files for collateral materials and other designed assets.
Identifying the gaps and planning for future success
Before it comes time to make the actual switch from one full-service marketing agency to another, it is important to identify what wasn’t working well in your existing agency relationship and what you hope to achieve with the support of your new marketing partner. A key component of finding the right marketing agency to work with is being transparent about why you are seeking a new firm and ensuring the new team that you engage is well-equipped to fill in the gaps that led you to seek a change. Being forthright about your reasons for making a change will allow you to collaborate with your new partner during the strategic planning and onboarding process to put measures in place to avoid encountering these same pitfalls and sources of frustration.
Understand the onboarding process
Entrusting your brand to a new marketing agency isn’t a decision to be taken lightly. You want to find the agency that is the best fit – from the services they provide to the ways in which they collaborate with clients to ensure success. So, as you plan to transition from your current marketing firm to a new one, it is important to understand what the onboarding process will look like. Take the time to understand:
- how long the onboarding process will take
- how much of your time and your colleagues’ time will need to be invested
- what background materials the firm will need
- what materials the marketing agency will need from your prior firm
- what levels of access (website, social, email marketing) your marketing partner will need
- how they approach setting up a new account
- what the working relationship will look like during onboarding and beyond
- how success will be measured and reported
While it may be intense at times, the onboarding process lays the foundation for a successful client-agency relationship and ensures everyone is working to achieve a common set of goals with specific, measurable outcomes. Fully engaging in this phase of work is mission-critical for generating strong outcomes.
Deciding to seek a new marketing agency to support your company or cause isn’t easy. During the tenure of working with your current partner you have built relationships, celebrated successes, navigated challenges and evolved your goals. The thought of starting from scratch with someone new can be overwhelming. While these are justifiable concerns, it is important to remember that there is a reason that you are looking to make a change – be it dissatisfaction with the working relationship, frustration over lack of results, feeling that your company or cause isn’t well understood by the team, etc. To that end, focus on finding a marketing agency that can shore up these gaps and with whom you can build a collaborative, results-driven relationship for years to come. With the right marketing partner on your team, the opportunities to increase brand awareness, establish your firm as a thought leader, generate leads and maintain high levels of client engagement are limitless.
Finding the right marketing partner is key to success. Before you make a switch, take the time to carefully vet the agencies you are considering to find the team whose services, expertise and culture are the right fit. Unsure what questions to ask? Here are 25 to get you started.