It’s been a tense few weeks. Several uncomfortable phone calls followed by an equally awkward final meeting have brought you to this moment—you and your digital marketing agency have officially called it quits. Your team is feeling disappointed, let down, and perhaps a little wary of meeting someone new. Your colleagues and fellow business owners are telling you it’s time to move on, but how can you be sure you’re ready?
If you’ve had a bad experience outsourcing your digital campaigns to an agency, the scenario above may feel all too familiar. And while rebounding from the end of a partnership can be difficult, it is also the perfect opportunity to bounce back by reflecting on what you’re looking for in a future digital marketing agency and the business objectives you’re hoping to achieve. Now, put away the comfort food, wipe your tears, and get back to the drawing board with these three tips on how to bounce back from an agency breakup.
Embrace Your Independence
It can be scary without a digital marketing agency helping to manage your campaigns, but it’s also an opportunity to roll up your sleeves and re-engage with your digital strategy. First, focus on learning as much as you can through the transition by gathering useful data. In addition to taking ownership of all your accounts, ask the exiting agency to provide you with a list of in-progress projects, past reports, and any key learnings from their time running your campaigns.
Second, take the time to familiarize yourself with your accounts. Successful agency partnerships are built on a base of good communication and a mutual investment in the process. Often agency relationships turn sour because either the agency, or the client, set the relationship on autopilot. While you don’t need to be an AdWords expert, a basic understanding of what strategies work, what do not, and a desire to share in the end product will set you up to rebound with success.
Reflect Before You Rebound
We all know that having one too many drinks at the bar and clinging to the first breathing human you find to use as a distraction is not always the healthiest way to make a comeback from a broken relationship. Now is the time for you to reflect on what caused your agency relationship to go wrong before, and come up with new solutions as to how you plan on making the next one better. As stated previously, a good digital partnership begins with communication and trust. Host a retrospective meeting with your team to discuss both the good and bad aspects of working with your previous agency. Here’s a sample retrospective agenda to get you started:
- Check-in on how team members are feeling about the break-up and transition.
- Host an activity focused on drawing out the lessons from the previous agency, such as:
- WWW: Worked Well, Kinda Worked, Didn’t Work
- FLAP: Future Direction, Lessons Learned, Accomplishments and Problem Areas
- Group responses into themes. Task a team member with developing RFP or interview questions addressing those themes for use during replacement agency selection.
Having this wealth of information from your team ensures you can speak with confidence about what you’re looking for from a partner when you’re ready to jump back in.
Do Your Research
Remember those colleagues and fellow business owners encouraging you to get back out there? Ask them to set you up! Recommendations and referrals are a good starting point for finding a replacement agency and can narrow down your search quickly. Word-of-mouth is still the most effective method for attracting business, so most likely the same names will come up again and again.
Once you’ve narrowed the field, review each digital marketing agency’s website and online presence. Is their Google profile complete? Have they designed their website with the user in mind? Well-laid out websites that are regularly updated with fresh content are good signs the agency walks the walk, as well as talks the talk.
Moving onto the first date? In addition to the questions and goals you collected from your retrospective, be sure to ask questions related to their company culture. How do they keep the company up to date on marketing trends? What is their company mission? Do they belong to any associations? Long-term relationships are sustained through shared values, so how an agency treats their employees or engages with others in their industry can help determine if a particular agency is a right fit.
Call us hopeless romantics, but we believe there is a perfect digital marketing agency out there for your business. Don’t let a bad agency experience turn you off from outsourcing your digital campaign. Instead use this opportunity to learn from the relationship and turn those learnings into helpful tactics for seeking out a new partner. When you do find the right agency, give yourself time to ramp up. Take the time to understand and communicate your business objectives, as well as your market opportunity—both of which will help set your agency, and your rebound relationship, up for success. If you have any questions or comments about how to find the right agency partner, please feel free to contact us.
Image by Erika Dupree via Flickr CC