Marketing your business and building a brand online takes a lot of work, and it’s important to have the right partners to help you along the way. When you decide to employ the services of a digital agency, there are certain expectations with which both sides enter the relationship.
But not all digital agencies are created equally. It’s an unfortunate truth that sometimes such a relationship just doesn’t work out, which can leave many businesses in a lurch when they find themselves on their own without technical help.
The key to avoiding such a problem is to select the right agency from the start. In cases where problems don’t arise until much later, it’s important to identify the signs early enough to make a change before the whole project blows up.
Here are 7 signs that can help you tell if it's time to fire your current digital agency.
1. They’re never on the same wavelength.
If you don't see your ideas coming to life when working with a digital agency, it might be time to find a better team. A partnership with an agency should hinge on a mutual understanding of each other’s core values, as well as a proper match in industry. Sometimes a team simply isn't right for your kind of product or service, or maybe they just aren't taking the time to listen to what’s important to you.
Working with an agency should always be a collaboration where ideas are shared back and forth. This team effort is what turns good ideas into successful projects. Don't sell your business short by working with a team who isn't on the same wavelength in this regard.
2. They have poor communication skills.
When trying to turn a profit and meet deadlines, constant and clear communication is absolutely essential. If your team doesn't immediately return calls/emails or if they are always in a rush to get through your conversations, you might not be a good match.
For example, the rule here at NPG is to respond to emails within 10-15 minutes—we sometimes even answer them from home when necessary. That’s not to say every agency should throw the concept of business hours out the window, but a quick response time lets clients know that we’re paying attention and always happy to help.
Good communication is the cornerstone of any good relationship. Make sure to find an agency who always has time to answer your questions and listen to your ideas.
3. They constantly miss or disregard deadlines.
It’s true that missed deadlines are sometimes unavoidable—sometimes a task takes longer than expected or a problem arises at random. But when an agency fails to deliver on a deadline every single time, it’s a sure sign there might be a problem.
If the work you request isn't being delivered on time and the work is always sloppy when it does arrive, your agency might not be taking you or your time seriously. Furthermore, if you bring the problem up to your team and they’re dismissive of your concerns (and without a good explanation), you might be fighting an uphill battle.
4. They fail to provide proper maintenance.
We’ve mentioned before the importance of maintenance services. Digital products such as web development, online marketing, and design take a considerable amount of maintenance to keep things running smoothly. Too many digital agencies come up short in terms of maintaining long-term projects—some offer no maintenance services at all, which can be a problem.
If your agency isn't willing to provide you with a long-term maintenance strategy and is ready to cut you off at the conclusion of your project, it's time to move on. You need a digital agency who understands your goals for the future of your business and is in it for the long haul to help you achieve them.
5. They show a lack of passion in your project.
A digital agency should be just as invested in your business as you are. After all, they are getting paid to take your projects to the next level, and your success can only serve to make them look good. In order for great ideas to take shape, a team should be putting serious time and effort into thinking about your brand and championing it as much as you do.
A lack of passion might stem from an agency taking on too many clients or a disconnection in the workplace. In some cases, you might not even know who your main point person is or the names of the key players at the agency. That's why many people prefer to hire a smaller agency with whom they can work closely and get to know on a more personal level. These agencies will be more likely to throw themselves into creating great work for your business.
6. They don't understand your business model.
Sure, not everyone at your digital agency has to be an expert in your industry. It would be unrealistic to expect them to know every intricate detail about your company structure the same way an in-house employee would. But without at least a general understanding of what you do and how you operate, there is no way an agency can give you what you need.
The only way an agency will be able to produce quality work is if they know your product or services well. This should be a part of your onboarding process, whether it’s a discovery session with the project managers or a strategy discussion with the team. If they don’t make an effort to truly get your company, they’re probably not the best fit.
Making Your Decision
There are many reasons why professional relationships don’t always work out. While personality differences and matters of taste can sometimes play into it, those are matters that can usually be settled on an interpersonal level.
But other factors, like those outlined above, can’t be ignored—the success of your project depends too greatly on these factors for them to be taken lightly.
Should you ever find yourself in a position where you have to fire your current digital agency, take care to examine your contract with them and do it the right way. And take the lessons learned in the process to heart when searching for a new agency. The right partner won’t just help get tasks done; they should work closely with you, listen to you, and offer advice and expert guidance where needed.