Posted on Sep 13, 2017

7 Signs It’s Time to Find a New Marketing Vendor

According to the 2016 Gartner Marketing Organizational Design and Strategy Survey, over half of marketing leaders say they rely heavily on agencies and third parties, and only 19% have a strong focus in their own office. That means that even marketers are hiring marketing vendors to help strengthen their efforts.

If you have a marketing vendor in place, it’s tempting to think that because you’re working with an expert, you’re automatically in good hands. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to feel frustrated when working with a marketing vendor. But you’re still in the driver’s seat and can make a big change for the good of your business.

How do you know when it’s time to make that change? Here are 7 signs it’s time to find a new marketing vendor.


1. There Are No Measurable Changes

You’re several months – or even years – into a work relationship with a marketing vendor, and you still haven’t seen any real, measurable results. And when you ask them for updates, they just give you a laundry list of what they’re working on but no analytics to back it up.

In reality, a quality and reputable marketing agency should be able to measure their results and ROI. But results can look different and come with different expectations depending on the campaign. For example, a Snapchat campaign giving away coupons for an upcoming event to drive more foot traffic to a storefront will have different results than an Instagram campaign designed to attract more followers.

Stop to consider whether or not the marketing agency knows your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). If they’ve simply decided a bigger Instagram following can improve your business, stop and ask them to reevaluate. In reality, your most valued KPI might be to attract more influencers (as opposed to followers) on Instagram who can partner on upcoming campaigns.

Once you’ve figured out if your marketing vendor needs more clarity or just isn’t delivering, you can decide whether or not to let your marketing vendor go or pivot and make some changes.


2. Their Ideas Don’t Align with Your Brand

The most innovative and talented marketing vendors may have awards lining their shelves and plenty of praise, but their ideas won’t necessarily align with your own brand. You may have gotten caught up in the excitement of their smart ideas and chance to work one-on-one with them. But as reality sinks in, you might see that their fantastic ideas aren’t a match for your own business.

A slick marketing campaign focused on content marketing and press in big blogs and publications could help grow your business, but might not work for your own audience. Instead, you might find that in-person events, festivals and conferences where people can get their hands on your products are really the best way to market to your core audience.

Take inventory of what your marketing vendor is working on, and the results and types of clients and leads their work is generating. If it’s not the right fit, cut ties and move on. A quality marketing company might give a little pushback to make changes and stay onboard, but they should ultimately respect your decision and business needs.


3. You’re Left Out of the Loop

Poor communication is a big complaint for businesses working with vendors of all kinds, including marketing. It’s very likely business owners outsource marketing vendors in the first place because they’re simply too busy to do the work themselves. That also means there’s not much time to really talk through marketing campaigns and any issues going on in the professional relationship.

A marketing vendor should be both transparent and accountable to their clients, but that’s not always the case. You may find you never hear from them and don’t have any real idea of what they’re doing. Approach your vendor and let them know you want more communication and clarity on what they’re working on, and ask for a bi-weekly or monthly meeting and ongoing status reports.

Emails and phone calls can help, but it’s imperative to have a central place to maintain your projects assets and stay organized. Busy business owners can also get set up on a system like Microsoft Teams to stay in close communication with their vendor and monitor their projects.

Microsoft Teams communication platform

Image: Microsoft Teams


4. They’re Defensive About Your Questions

It’s normal to want to defend your hard work and not get backed into a corner, but it’s not appropriate for a vendor to get defensive over questions. You have the right to ask ongoing questions about your marketing campaigns and request adjustments or more explanation.

However, there is something to be said for a marketing agency that pushes back from time to time with their clients in a respectful manner. It’s likely that their years of experience and knowledge on a particular topic might give them insights a business owner is unaware of. A reputable marketing vendor will respectfully argue against a client request if they know that it won’t work for their product or service.

But if a marketing vendor is needlessly defensive or pushes back on every question, it’s time to move on. There are better ways to spend a marketing meeting than arguing over every question and request.


5. There are Lots of Financial Surprises

Do you keep getting unexpected bills and add-ons from your marketing vendor? If you’re getting surprise bills and mark-up on rates you did not approve, you should push back and get answers. Ask for a fully transparent and fixed contract in advance and question any additional charges that sneak up throughout the year.

A good marketing vendor will discuss any surprise charges and exactly what they’re for. They may see a big opportunity to take your marketing efforts to new levels. Maybe they see how much of your audience comes from Facebook and recommend running a campaign using a Facebook pixel. They should walk you through that campaign, exactly what the costs are and have you sign an addendum to your contract or put something in writing outlining the expectations.

Simplify the process by asking a vendor to sign any contracts in DocuSign to move things along quickly. The software creates legally binding electronic signatures that you can then file away in your digital storage for safekeeping.

DocuSign example

Image: DocuSign


6. You’re Frustrated and Aren’t Being Heard

It’s not a good sign if you feel frustrated by your marketing vendor every time you talk with them. It’s also a red flag if you leave every meeting feeling like you haven’t been heard. Take a moment to jot down what your frustrations are and why. Unanswered calls, failure to follow through with campaigns and resistance to producing measurable results and status reports are just a few things that might make your list.

Frustrations can often come from not being on the same page. A vendor may also just not fit with your communication and project needs and compensate by coming on too strong or trying to talk you into every idea. In reality, a relationship with a marketing vendor should be a fun challenge where you trade ideas and come to a consensus on how to best market your business.

Once you’ve pinpointed where the frustrations are coming from, take a moment to calmly collect your thoughts. Put it together in an email or pick up the phone and go over your list. You might find your marketing vendor is surprised by the information and is willing to make changes to resolve problems. But if your frustrations have been going on for awhile, chances are it’s an unresolvable issue.


7. You Have the Budget for an In-House Superstar

If you’re completely thrilled with your marketing vendor, hold onto them and evaluate in the next quarter. But you could be getting complacent even if they’re delivering and you’re happy with the results. At some point, it might make more sense to hire your own in-house talent to manage your marketing.

Take a look at your finances and how much you would save hiring your own marketing pro instead of outsourcing it all. Remember to factor in health benefits, 401k and any other perks you offer your employees. It’s possible that hire will still need some outsourced help to create graphics, write copy or work on marketing strategies. Take the time to find someone who is multi-talented, has a robust portfolio that aligns with your business goals and is willing to grow into their role.

At the end of the day, a relationship with a marketing vendor should help improve your business and make your life easier. You don’t necessarily need a big red flag or poor experience to ditch them and move onto someone new. Feeling less than enthusiastic about working with them and being just ‘okay’ with the results probably means it’s time to move on. Your business deserves a marketing vendor that makes you feel excited about success.


Did you have to part ways with your marketing vendor and find someone new? Let us know by leaving a comment below:

Feature Image: Pexels