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  • Mike Johnston

Clients Share Why They Fire Agencies


Are you on the fast track to losing your clients? A recent survey uncovered some surprising reasons why clients hire and fire advertising agencies. Here’s a quick look at what respondents said, and what every agency should be thinking about:

  • Half have fired an agency in the last two years. Of that group, almost half of the time it was because the agency failed to achieve results, and 31% of the time it was for lack of attentiveness.

  • About one-third said their agency lied to them to get the business and then didn’t treat them well afterward.

  • Over 30% said their agency didn’t demonstrate the expertise they claimed to have during the evaluation process.

  • 34% felt that they were burned by an agency.

  • Half asserted that their agency was not good at strategy.

  • 25%–30% hired agencies after looking at the professional content they put on social media. Double that number looked at personal social media posts by employees. They also searched LinkedIn for past employees so that they could talk to them about the agency.

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The report surveyed 500 B2B and B2C organizations in the U.S. and was put together by the Agency Management Institute with help from Research Now. More information about the organizations is listed below:

  • Only 20% have an Agency of Record.

  • More than half retain more than one agency. They don’t trust that any agency can have it all under one roof, so they approach different agencies that specialize.

  • One third are doing sophisticated budget evaluations of their marketing mix.

  • An overwhelming number use data to measure the effectiveness of campaigns.

The client-agency relationship has changed. But the good news is that most of the complaints cited in this report are simple to fix.

  • Explain why the strategic approach you are proposing is sound.

  • Agree on KPIs and data benchmarks, so that everyone is clear what success looks like.

  • Monitor the campaign’s progress.

  • Communicate successes, failures, and fixes.

  • Be transparent about your strengths.

  • Bring partners to the table that shore up your weaknesses.

  • Treat loyal clients better than you treat new business prospects.

  • Remind employees that clients are trolling their personal social media pages, looking for reasons to disqualify the agency.

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