The reasons marketing agencies get fired are well chronicled, from the well-deserved (lack of effort, lack of results, poor communication, etc.) to bewildering Bermuda Triangle reasons (new marketing director cleans house 80% of the time regardless of results, CEO’s cousin or wife is a marketing expert, etc.), and everything in between.
On the other side of the coin, it’s hard to fire a client, akin to breaking up with a neurotic, abusive supermodel. Every founder starts an agency thinking, “If I do great work, clients will be happy, more business will flow to the company, employees will be happy, and life will be good.”
However, sometimes what starts off as a beautiful account turns into an ugly, toxic relationship that erodes employee morale and on top of that is unprofitable.
Here’s when you need to fire your client:
They hire you for your marketing expertise, then ignore your advice and dictate every decision.
They hire you to do work under stressful, compressed timelines, then complain about costs.
They are verbally abusive to your staff, have unrealistic expectations, and never acknowledge the great work of your staff.
They aren’t loyal – shopping every project even though you have committed your best people to their account and given them amazing results.
They incessantly change the rules of the game – goals, targets, project timelines and specs.
They string you out for payment, yet are paying everyone on their staff including the marketing contact we work in tandem with every day.
Give the agency poor direction, refuse to consider alternative options, then blame the agency when senior management comes down on them.
They aren’t open, honest and candid about the relationship, the account person assigned to their account or the work.
Trust me, we’ve ignored all of these issues and many more, thinking that we were being paranoid or that we could turn it around with candid conversations. And the reality is that it’s downright painful to turn down money, particularly in today’s world.
However, it’s a pay now or pay later reality. These relationships inevitably end badly, so why not cut ties on your terms so you can lavish your attention on your best customers and retain your best employees?