When You Should Find a New Marketing Agency

Inbound Marketing, Strategy

Marketing is part art and part science, and it will take any agency some time to get to know your business and your customers. But if you’ve been with the same agency for months and you’re not seeing any returns from all of those eye-catching images and zippy headlines, it’s natural to wonder when you should think about finding a new marketing partner.

When is that exactly? At Vye, we’ve given it a lot of thought. While we are intensely proud of our talent, we always root our creativity in empathy. What do our clients need to get to the next step? What do their customers need to hear before making a purchase? If your agency isn’t thinking that way and is instead pitching concepts that will get their business noticed, that’s a clear sign that you might want to reevaluate your contract sooner than later. But relationships of every type can be complicated, and typically, there aren’t such easy answers. 

Here are a few insider tips to help you know when it’s time to make a change.

Get the facts first

What business has this agency brought you, and what are they leaving on the table? If you’re working with a Hubspot partner agency (more about this later), it should be much easier for you to understand what their work is actually doing for you.

Working on computerBut while numbers don’t lie, sometimes they can be highly misleading. For example, traffic to your new landing page may be lower, or blog content might not perform well because you actually needed a site audit (which you didn’t invest in).

In both of those examples, it also takes a bit of time to get an accurate measurement of performance.

Additionally, there will always be a learning curve for any agency. We try to minimize both of these at Vye so our clients will have a better idea of what their marketing dollars will give them, and we typically exceed our goals by significant margins. However, not every campaign will be a winner. A good agency should learn from their misses as well as their hits and deliver a much stronger one next time.

Be open to what you find

If you’ve been working with a marketing agency for six months to a year, and you haven’t seen clear evidence that you’re getting a good return on your investment, you might try having a frank discussion with them about why their efforts haven’t met expectations. 

Just make sure you’re also open to hearing what they have to say. In every relationship, including those between two businesses, good communication is often all that’s needed in order to set reasonable expectations, clarify responsibilities, and fix a problem.  

Have they made recommendations that you haven’t considered? Are your expectations reasonable and your timelines realistic? Have you kept them busy doing things that you wanted, but weren’t in line with the strategy they laid out for you? To be fair, your marketing agency should already have explained their strategy for your business, and the results you might expect from their work. But an agency can only do so much if you primarily use them to tackle overflow work your internal marketing team can’t handle, and you don’t heed their recommendations. 

Meeting with client

At Vye, we’d rather err on the side of too much communication than too little. When we onboard a new client, we make sure that we’re a good fit. We are the first to admit that we’re not the right agency for every client, and when there’s a mismatch, we will happily recommend another agency.

The top 10 signs you should switch agencies

If you’ve already gotten the facts, you’ve had an honest conversation, you’ve followed your agency’s recommendations, and nothing’s gotten appreciably better, here are ten signs it might be time for a change.

1. Your current agency doesn’t market itself well

Does your current agency promise new and fresh creative concepts, but their website uses language and images that you’ve seen hundreds of times? Do they say they specialize in online marketing, but they don’t have a strong online presence? Do they tout their many awards, but they can’t point to any successful case studies to prove that those ads actually achieved something for their clients?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, something may be off. That something may be that they’re not results-oriented, or they’re too swamped to market themselves well. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for how much you’ll get out of the relationship moving forward. Case studies are something Vye is proud to highlight on our website; it’s easy to see how our work, for example, drove traffic to a client’s website, and how that traffic resulted in more leads.

2. They don’t work well with your team

If you’re a marketing director, this can be a big one. Your internal team knows your business and your customers better than almost anyone else. You should feel like your marketing partner is a specialized extension of your team, but one that respects your team’s knowledge and ways of working. If there’s a disconnect here, it’s a legitimate concern. Over time, it could lead to poor collaboration and more conflict.

3. They’re not doing what they said they would

If they said they would do x, y, and z in a certain timeframe, and they haven’t done it, you’re entitled to an explanation. If you’ve kept them busy doing other things, that’s on you. But if they’re overwhelmed with other work, you’re not getting the ROI you were promised. 

Believe it or not, this issue is often why clients come to us at Vye: a previous agency supplied plenty of ideas, but no work. They acted like a consultant, but they couldn’t execute. Our team is very results-driven, and while we love making our clients happy and thrilling them with that “wow” factor of a new site design, a new logo, or an exciting new campaign, what really thrills us is when we see leads skyrocket. That’s our wow.

4. They aren’t a good fit

Many clients that haven’t worked with an agency before may have a misunderstanding about fit. Fit doesn’t necessarily mean an agency specializes in marketing businesses within a certain industry. If they did, they might be tempted to take a cookie-cutter approach. And obviously, the reason you’re still in business is that you offer something uniquely valuable. 

A good fit means that the agency is capable of doing the type of work that you’d like. A good fit means that you feel comfortable working together. A good fit means that they treat your team with respect, they’re good communicators, and you feel that your goals are aligned.

5. You’ve tried having more conversations, but they’re not helping

If you find that conversations with this agency go in circles, and they don’t have a clear vision for getting you where you want to be, or the conversations are combative instead of collaborative, it might be time to go elsewhere. 

This can be a bit tricky because, at Vye, we understand that working with an agency can be uncomfortable at first. Our job sometimes involves challenging our clients to step outside of their comfort zone. Organizations that haven’t worked with an agency before can be resistant to someone outside of their business suggesting different approaches. That’s understandable, but it’s exactly what an agency has been hired to do. 

It’s important to remember that people who work at marketing agencies are people too. If they get an inordinate amount of pushback for every suggestion they make, it can be frustrating for both parties and can lead to an ineffective partnership.

6. Their billing is unclear

The marketing industry is known for its love of jargon and acronyms, and the creative process involves a bit of mystery. Believe it or not, that’s just as frustrating for creative types as it can be for the businesses they serve. That said, your agency should make an effort to be transparent with you, especially about what you’re paying for.

7. They don’t have a strategy

This one is especially hard for us at Vye to understand, since strategy is behind everything we do. But if your current agency is unable to explain why they’re doing what they’re doing for you, or there doesn’t seem to be any sound reasoning behind it, consider it a giant red flag.

8. They’re careless

Mistakes happen, but if they happen often, it’s not a good sign. Your agency should understand that their work is an extension of your brand, and they should take great care to prevent your clients or customers from seeing grammatical mistakes or social media posts that aren’t relevant or don’t fit your image. At Vye, all of our work goes through an extensive review process, including external proofers. It takes time, but we believe it’s worth it.

9. They consistently don’t meet their goals

A single campaign may not meet all of its objectives. It happens. But if your agency is always promising more than you’re getting, it makes sense to question the relationship.

10. They don’t tell you what’s working and what isn’t

At Vye, one of the things we look forward to most is telling our clients exactly what their investment has gotten them. If you feel like you’re always pulling teeth, and your agency is reluctant to report what is getting results and what isn’t, and how they’re going to shift tactics accordingly, it’s an obvious sign that either they don’t know how to get you the results you want, or they aren’t really trying.

Getting out of the relationship

At this point, you probably have already gotten the sense that we’re very detail and process-oriented at Vye, which I think is often a surprise to many of our clients that have worked with other agencies. We have an onboarding and offboarding checklist, and we make sure that if we aren’t a good fit for our clients, there’s an easy and relatively painless way for us to go our separate ways. 

If you’re mid-project, it might make sense to postpone ending the relationship. But if it’s definitely time for you to make the switch, go over your contract to understand when you can make a graceful exit, and look over any other legal documentation with your attorney. 

Before you’re out the door completely, you’ll also want to make sure you get your assets, logos, and other important files as well as relevant login information. You might also want to ask your agency what tools they’ve been using, so you can purchase them for your own use. Finally, you’ll want to reset passwords and revoke the agency’s access to your files. 

While it may be tempting to do these things and never give another thought to the relationship, this is still a valuable experience that may give you more insight into how to find an agency that is a better fit. Think about what went well, what didn’t, and what needs you’d like a new agency to meet. Be honest about your expectations so you can communicate them better to your next marketing partner.

Questions to ask when hiring a new marketing agency

If you’ve learned more about what you need and what you don’t from your last marketing agency, this step will be easier. In addition to asking this new agency a few basics about how they work and what they can do for you, it’s a good idea to add these questions to your list. 

  • What are your capabilities?
  • What’s your methodology?
  • How will I know that your strategy is working?
  • When should I start seeing results?
  • How do you typically communicate with clients?
  • Do you have a proven track record that’s transferable across industries?
  • Will I have a dedicated team? If so, who’s on it?
  • What will be the terms of my contract, and will I have an easy out if the relationship is not working?
  • How does your billing work?
  • What tools do you use, and are they compatible with ours?

That last question is often overlooked, but it’s an important one. The tools an agency uses can be key to offering you more transparency, simplifying your collaboration, and ultimately, getting you better results.

The benefits of working with a Hubspot agency

Hubspot is a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform that can give you and your agency impressive analytics about what’s driving traffic to your website, what blogs result in sales, and the like. The platform also offers a full suite of tools to help with content development and management, SEO, website creation and management, and sales support. 

HubSpot analytics dashboard

A Hubspot agency will be able to offer you specialized support in these tools and will be able to show you the results they’re generating for you. Additionally, if your agency specializes in inbound marketing (sometimes referred to as empathy-based marketing), there’s no better tool to attract your ideal customer to your business. If you’re interested in a Hubspot demo, let us know!  

Finding the right inbound marketing agency

Vye works differently than many marketing agencies, and we are very proud of that difference. Our mission — to redefine marketing as a measurable growth investment — isn’t just a nice bit of lorem ipsum. You’ll hear our mission celebrated often at company get-togethers and quarterly meetings. And while we’re immensely proud of our intensely creative and passionate team, what makes us most proud is being able to deliver results for our clients. 

But we aren’t the right fit for everyone. For example, our onboarding process is quite thorough. We want to make sure that we will be a good fit, and that our relationship will be mutually beneficial. If those conversations are a source of frustration instead of an indication of respect and care, another agency may suit your needs better. This may go without saying, but we are also not the right fit for an organization that just wants to get by, and doesn’t actually want growth. 

However, if you’re looking for a partner that values empathy-based marketing, and understands how powerful storytelling can engage and delight your customers, we are happy to explore the many ways we can help you grow.

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