Why do Brands and Marketing Agencies Breakup?

A relationship between a marketing brand and marketing agency is similar to that of a romantic partnership.

There is an initial meeting that transpires from a referral (friend) or some kind of search (perhaps a dating app), a spark during the proposal/pitch process (first couple of dates), and, if it does not work out, a dreadful breakup. Of course, if it does happen to work out, then there is a successful partnership for some time.

However, according to this 2017 survey, brands are leaning more towards project-based agencies/agencies with specialized capabilities instead of adhering to the traditional agency of record (AOR) model

Read Related - Jack of One Trade, Master, then Done: Growth Hacks for Marketing Agencies

Not all relationships are doomed from the beginning, but like anything, a relationship requires trust which is built through constant nurturing, proper attention, and communication.

Read Related - The Dysfunctional Agency-Client Relationship for ways to build trust between brand and agency marketers

Why don’t some agencies and brands work out?

Sometimes it is because they are not the right fit for each other. Sometimes it is a minor detail that could easily be resolved. AgencySparks works to help brands and agencies avoid those painful breakups by conducting a thorough vetting process in order to match brands with the perfect marketing agency.

So What Causes Breakups between Marketing Brands and Agencies?

Miscommunication Between the Brand and Marketing Agency

From the very beginning, every conversation between the brand and marketing agency needs to be honest and transparent. The brand must be transparent about what they want and the agency must be upfront about their capabilities.

The Notebook What do you want meme.gif

The transparency carries over into the initial pitch. Agencies should introduce the team that will be working on the project to the brand. Brands do not appreciate meeting the A-team of an agency, only to discover junior and inexperienced members will ultimately handle their account.

Throughout the partnership, it is important to keep tabs of progress on both sides of the agency-client relationship. If communication is constant, no one is caught off guard when scheduling errors and extensions occur. Both sides need to communicate confusion and concerns as issues arise so that no one is left blindsided about the current state of the relationship.

Read Related - The Evolving Pitch Process - Why Brands Should Approach Agency Selection Differently


Misunderstanding of a Brand’s Budget and Agency’s Limitations

Sometimes projects end up way more expensive than the initial plan. If brands know their budgeting limits from the beginning and express that clearly to the agency, it will limit foreseeable conflicts. This goes back to communicating. If costs skyrocket during a project, the brand will leave dismayed. The agency needs to explain how the costs of a project can potentially scale up and down given the brand’s timeline and initial budget.

Need help prioritizing your marketing spend? Check out this free marketing budget template.


Agencies Lack Responsiveness

Brands will fire agencies if they are not seen as the priority. This is on the agency to respond to the brands’ inquiries and treat the brand as their only client. The brand’s business should be the agency’s number one priority.

Brands - don’t come off as a crazy partner by constantly harassing the agency.

Agencies - don’t come off as “too chill” of a partner. Balance is important!

Agencies need to articulate budget limits and possible price fluctuations to brands before they set unrealistic expectations.


Agencies Fail to Provide Results

Sometimes poor results (or no results at all) terminate a relationship. If the agency and brand have a solid foundation built on communication and understanding, the relationship may be salvaged. It is important for a brand to have realistic expectations in terms of budget and project execution. The agency must continually communicate realistic goals to the brand in addition to taking on only what it can handle in terms of expertise and resources. Sometimes, however, things end and it may be easier to onboard a new agency.


The Agency-Client Relationship Becomes Stale

Relationships are not perfect and sometimes people get bored or things turn sour. This happens when brands do not manage and let the agencies go on auto-pilot. Agencies are then no longer excited about the work and stop innovating. Brands and agencies need to stay invested for the health of the relationship.

Rekindle the creative spark with these related blogs: Tapping into a Marketer’s Inspiration and Covering all the B.A.S.E.S. and How to Innovate, Map, and Execute Marketing Ideas


Just like any serious romantic relationship, choosing the wrong partner can be a costly mistake. That’s why brands need to put in the time and effort to understand their goals, budget, and what they’re looking for in a potential agency partner before hiring an agency partner.

Brand marketers can download our Complete Guide to Finding a Marketing Agency in order to save themselves unnecessary time, trouble, money, and resources during this draining process. To simplify the process for brand marketers even further, brands should answer these questions when initially meeting with an agency to ensure every detail is covered and goals are aligned.

The agency selection process- How to find a marketing agency


The Complete Guide to Finding a Marketing Agency

This guide teaches client-side marketers to how to plan, select, and onboard marketing agencies to get the most value from the partnership in the long run.

Click here to download the free, interactive PDF.