Are you thinking about leaving your Agency?
Have you bounced from Agency to Agency?
Might you, the client, have created this?
I’ve been in the business for a very long time, and have seen and experienced a lot of drama – and learned many, many lessons.
Reflect for a second, because it might not be the Agency’s fault. I’m saying this as your friend: please reflect on your breakup this time. Maybe reflect on your own role in these toxic relationships. I want you to be happy, and as your friend and champion, it is hard to watch.
Look, I am the first to talk about dodgy Agencies who have mastered the art of style over substance. A lot, in fact. In a sales pitch, they’ll love bomb you, buy you dinner and promise you the earth. They’ll say they love you, slag off and try to discredit the other guys, turn on the charm — anything it takes to get you into bed.
But, as soon as the sun comes up and the afterglow fades, they fail to follow through on the simple things, let alone their bigger promises… and then, they move on to the next one.
These Agencies exist. Too many of them. But it is important to note that there are good guys too — you just need to notice, and trust (again).
It’s not us, it’s you.
Let me be clear: I am not blaming you, the person reading this article. I like you. You’re nice. I know you have your own stuff going on. You have targets to meet and no budget (and don’t really understand why we charge what we do), and you accidentally named a date, which is far too soon.
You are under pressure with budgets. You have heaps of stuff to do. Your boss doesn’t care about the quality of the work, they just want results. I get it.
We are all under pressure.
But we matter in this relationship too.
It’s time for the talk.
That fact is, we are all frustrated, struggling to communicate, and neither of us are stopping to catch our breath and actually think about whether this is healthy.
It is out of control.
Agencies (and freelancers) are under more and more pressure to squeeze our rates to compete with the players. We are giving too much of ourselves too soon, working on spec (which we don’t do), pitching for free, bending over backwards for less and less money, putting pressure on our staff to meet unreasonable deadlines, and hiring more and more cheap and offshore labour to not go out of business.
Many of us are bending over backwards so you don’t leave us, and compromising ourselves, our dignity and our lives in the process.
It is unhealthy.
If you are with a good Agency but are still unhappy, it is time to dig a little deeper and get to the core issues.
I accept that it may be easier to jump from bed to bed, blame others, and avoid facing your own dysfunction, but ultimately, face facts: it is at the expense of your long term happiness, and hurts other people who are just trying to treat you well and have your best interests at heart.
I know it hasn’t been on purpose. It’s a combination of you not knowing the impact of what they are doing, and your Agencies being afraid to say no and create healthy boundaries out of fear of losing you, because they believe that this time it is going to be different.
People don’t shell out money or commit to a project (or person) with the intention of it ending…especially ending badly.
But it does go wrong. A lot. And often repeatedly.
I will tell you though, that as a client, you don’t see what happens behind the scenes, even at the best Agencies. You only see shortcomings, bugs and fixes. You didn’t see how we shuffled everything around for an ambitious deadline or request, pulled all nighters, late night brainstorming sessions and disrupted our entire week’s schedule to make you happy.
And then you weren’t happy. And then questioned the invoice, paid us less, and then the poor Account Managers cop it from all directions, simply because they were too afraid to say no because you expected too much, for too little, too quickly, and kept threatening to walk.
Partnership = love, care, trust & respect.
I’ll tell you now: The answer to your problems may not be to court a new Agency. If you want a true partner that knows you well and has your back, it is important to know what you bring to the table, and where your deficits are, before deciding who is at fault, and if it is salvageable.
Reflect. Truly reflect. Then reflect some more.
Because sometimes, it isn’t the exes, it’s you.