Babies. Bathwater. And agencies.

I’m frequently introduced at business functions as “the agency search guy…”  And true enough, we do a lot of agency reviews.  But it’s only a fraction of what we do in our mission to help marketers maximize value from their agency relationships.

If you’ve ever been frustrated by how your agency is performing or agency management issues that perhaps seem unsolvable, and have ever been tempted throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, then this post is for you.

Here are five solutions that could help you improve your agency relationship(s), and maximize their effectiveness – without having to go through an agency review.

Contract Review

When was the last time you looked at your agency contract – much less took the time to consider changing it?  Chances are the contract was signed when the agency was appointed and it’s been sitting in a file somewhere ever since.  Because the marketing business has evolved so dramatically in recent years, it’s easy to see why it’s important to dust off the agency contract and revisit things like scope requirements, service requirements, performance metrics and yes, even costs associated with new production methods. 

Cost Benchmarking

I’ve written previously on this subject because many client conversations start out with the marketer saying, ‘we’re paying too much…‘  Yet when I ask, ‘well, what do you think would be fair…?’ I typically hear, ‘I don’t know, but I know we’re paying too much…

If that sounds familiar, then you should think about a cost benchmarking exercise that allows you to understand and benchmark industry costs against your current agencies costs.  This also shifts the financial discussion from an emotional to rational one, and invariably takes the temperature down.

Compensation Modeling

Is your agency compensation right for your needs and the type of work you’re asking them to do?  In many cases, marketers and agencies agree on a rate-card for services and shortly thereafter either the agency feels they’re being asked to do too much or the marketer feels costs are spiraling out of control. 

What’s needed is a clear understanding of the annual scope of work, an agreed upon staffing plan, an agreement on fixed or variable pricing, performance metrics and any number of other factors that you may want to consider in your compensation agreement. 

The point here is that it’s not as simple as looking at a rate card or agreeing a retainer that doesn’t haven’t defined boundaries, which is why every marketer should consider compensation modeling when starting or renewing contractual arrangements with their agencies.

Performance Evaluation

How do you evaluate your agency?  Is it a one to one evaluation or is it a full 360 evaluation?  How are bonus arrangements calculated and defined?  Often, agency evaluations are one dimensional where the marketer reviews the agency and then decides what sort of bonus the agency deserves.  Apart from being subjective, these kinds of evaluations are a significant missed opportunity for marketers to understand how their organization is performing based on multiple inputs. 

Our 360 agency evaluation system helps marketers leverage that opportunity and, in-turn, improve the over performance of their teams and their agencies.

Problem Resolution

What’s the nastiest, thorniest problem you’ve been dealing with over the last year with your agency?  Wasted lots of time on it?  Then why not fix it?!  Yes, in addition to all of the above, we can help address issues that are potentially impeding the progress of other marketing initiatives that your agency could be working on.  So why not make this the year that you fix it and move on?

So before throwing anything out ( bathwater and babies included) – let us know if we can help find a fix and get you and your organization to a happier place.


Stephan Argent is Founder and Principal at Listenmore Inc offering confidential advisory to marketers looking for truly independent insight and advice they can’t find anywhere else. Read more like this on our blog Marketing Unscrewed / follow me @StephanArgent

Photo: ___steph___

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