Is your relationship with your advertising, content or marketing agency living up to your expectations? 

Here are ten signs that it might not be all that it could be, along with tips on what you can do to salvage it... Or find a better one.

1. The reps at your agency have stopped taking your calls. And it takes longer to get them returned. It could be a sign they view you as HIGH MAINTENANCE. Many agencies run on very tight margins. If that's the case with yours, come up with ways to keep interactions efficient and effective. Schedule regular check-in meetings to keep projects on track. Plan agendas. Address multiple issues on a single call. If you find you're not getting the attention you deserve, it's time to move to a more attentive, service-oriented agency that's less focused on the bottom line.

2. You only get little ideas from your agency, never BIG ones. Are all your agency assignments on a per-project basis? While this can be a cost-effective way to contract out work, you could be missing out. Agencies are a great source of big-picture thinking. If you let an agency work on multiple projects, or all the assignments in a particular business area, you'll get insights on how to better connect, integrate and optimize your marketing strategies.

3. “Goals? What goals?” Like most relationships, at the foundation of the best agency-client partnerships are clear expectations about outcomes. If you don't know what you want to achieve from a marketing initiative, how can an agency develop an effective campaign? You owe it to your agency to provide clear goals. If goal-setting isn't your thing, agency experts know how to ask the right questions to help you define goals and set results.

4. Yet another creative director walked out on me. If you find that your agency has significant turnover, or worse, regularly moves top-tier talent off your account and replaces it with second- and third-level employees, you're working with the wrong agency. The best agency relationships are long-term ones where experienced agency professionals partner with savvy corporate marketers. If you're a victim of the bait-and-switch, it's time to find a new agency.

5. Do I really have to call them? If you feel uncomfortable dealing with your agency account rep or creative director, then ask to be assigned a new one. Poor communication between you and the people at your agency will lead to mediocre strategies and creative output. Your connection with your agency contacts should be close, trusted, comfortable and friendly.

6. They keep asking: “Who?” If you're not clear who your audience is, you can't expect an agency to develop effective messaging and campaigns. Would you talk to your uncle in the same way as your significant other? Similarly, an agency wouldn't create messaging for an experienced hedge fund manager the way it would a novice pre-retiree. If you don't have a clear profile of your prospects and clients, a good agency will provide you find solid demographic data to build one.

7. Does your agency consider you “cheap”? When it comes to things like food, cars, travel — and agencies — you get what you pay for. Those that charge too little will be less likely to provide you with the service you expect. Developing world-class marketing strategies and creative takes time and collaboration. Don't short-change yourself by always selecting the lowest-cost provider.

8. The agency strategists sigh when you ask for a brochure. If you approach your agency with defined deliverables rather than looking for solutions to marketing problems, you could be missing out. Good agency professionals have experience connecting marketing challenges with effective solutions. People at agencies can help uncover the best messages, images and media to connect with your target audience.

9. We'd never go for THAT. Don't reject agency creative before you — and your firm — give it a chance. If an agency includes an “out there” alternative among the creative options, it could be a good way to stretch your brand. People at your firm may not go for the edgiest image or message, but they may accept a moderate option that pushes your brand in a more modern direction.

10. For the fifty-third time... The most common point of contention between agencies and clients is too many rounds of edits. Going back-and-forth too many times isn't the problem, it's a sign that you have a problem. Implementing the recommendations on this list will likely reduce edits and speed projects to market. It could also help save an agency relationship or help you find and build a better one.

Think it's time for you to find a new agency? Take a few minutes to learn about Carpenter Group and our unique approach to marketing and building client relationships. Let's have a conversation to find out if we're compatible. We've worked with most of the best-known brands in the financial and professional services industries for more than thirty five years. Isn't it time for a healthy agency relationship? It'll pay off with years of satisfying marketing results.