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Is It Time to Ditch Your Agency? These Signs Point to Yes

by | Jun 26, 2024

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Over the years, we’ve been approached by dozens of smart, ambitious brands who suspect their big agency partner might not be the right fit. We recognize the signs that it’s time to make a change, and we suspect that just about every brand-side marketer reading this will recognize a bunch of them as well.

Sign #1: You were sold by the A team and got handed off to the B team.

Big agencies are fantastic at the sales pitch – that’s part of the reason they got so big. But if you’re not one of their key clients, odds are good that you’ll get passed off to their second tier of talent the minute you sign a contract.

Sign #2: Fees are still high, and ROAS is dropping.

We know all about the point of diminishing returns – how to anticipate it and overcome it by finding new avenues of growth. If your performance has flattened and/or decreased over time and nobody’s talking about ways to reverse the trend, it’s time to look elsewhere.

Sign #3: They’re out of ideas.

If you’re the one bringing all the ideas to the table – new audiences or creative themes to test, new platform updates to try, new analyses to run, new channels to look into – you need a new team to change your growth trajectory.

Sign #4: They still don’t know your business or vertical.

At minimum, your agency should know the main competitors in your space, the trends in your space, recent news that might affect your campaigns, and your brand’s relative strengths and weaknesses. If you’ve had to educate the account team consistently on any of those fronts, your agency isn’t the right partner.

Sign #5: They’re not aligned with your bigger goals.

Your agency needs to proactively make sure their strategies are aligned with your business’s goals. If you’re focused on optimizing for profit and they’re running broad prospecting campaigns, that’s an issue. Ditto if you’re willing to loosen your CAC limitations for the sake of raising revenue, and they’re sticking with small, high-LTV audiences and retargeting campaigns. Constant reminders about overarching goals are a signal that it’s time to move on.

Sign #6: They’re dragging their feet. 

No matter how minor the request, you’re waiting days for the agency to execute. Sound familiar? Small issues are indicative of much bigger ones – if they can’t edit a setting in Meta, do you trust them to help you launch a new product line?

Sign #7: They’re not analyzing marginal return or incrementality.

Not all results are equal, and your agency should know that. Ask them about the incrementality of their brand search campaigns (for instance) and see what kind of answer you get. Ditto for marginal return; they should be able to give you data that shows the point at which conversions will stop being profitable. If not, they’re charging you fees to burn up your budget.

Sign #8: They have tunnel vision.

Knowing the back end of the Google Ads UI cold doesn’t make a good marketer. Basic knowledge of channel interplay, customer UX, and how to align content and creative to funnel progression – those are all critical pieces of the puzzle. Agency teams that stay buried in single-channel reports and optimizations won’t understand what it truly takes to hit your KPIs.

Sign #9: They have great creative but no media strategy.

Agencies with great creative capabilities and shaky media strategies are charging you fees to produce pretty assets for an audience of one: you.

Sign #10: They have decent media but poor creative.

On the flip side, spending to get eyeballs on ho-hum creative that makes (in a sense) no impression at all is just as useless. High CPMs + poor creative is a recipe for one party to make money, and that party is the agency.

If you recognize a few of those signs in your current situation, you’ve likely thought about bringing things in house. That can be a smart move for some businesses, but overcommitting to full-time talent ties up a lot of resources, takes away the perspective agencies have from running tests and seeing trends across their portfolios, and makes it much harder for brands to pivot and flex as needed.

So where does that leave you in the search for talent that can drive your business forward?

The Playbook Media Difference

Playbook Media was launched in 2017 by Bryan Karas, a founding member of Facebook’s Disruptors team, to give brands a better agency option for exceeding growth objectives in B2C, lead gen, D2C, and beyond. 

Bryan and his core team all boast many years of marketing experience, and their expertise is supplemented by a deep roster of talent across initiatives including market research, customer research, strategy, branding, UX/UI, CRO, SEO, lifecycle, and much more. Playbook’s clients never get the B team; they get a roster of all-stars with vertical-specific experience who are chosen to overcome the unique marketing challenges – which go above and beyond media challenges –  identified in Playbook’s discovery audit.

One of Playbook’s first actions in a client engagement is recommending, thanks to the discovery audit, opportunities for the client to cut spend without losing revenue. Moreover, while team members take a white-glove approach that leaves no stone unturned to empower growth, the team is built so that members can flex on and off according to client needs. The impact: every dollar a brand spends with Playbook goes directly to build better marketing.

If you’re ready for a different approach from your agency, drop us a line, and let’s start talking.

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