Understanding the Why for the Who

September 9, 2023

Businesses and their sales and marketing teams spend a large amount of time learning about who buys their products and services. The next step is to understand why these prospective customers make the choices they do. We have taken this next step to understanding the why for the who in our world of advertising, marketing, and business development agencies.

Study finds 40% of brands might seek new agencies


An article in Adweek reported 40% of brands were considering changing agencies. The article is from 2021 and cited businesses responses to how their current agency partners performed during the pandemic. Knowing this period can be considered exceptional, we found a more recent article reporting 3 in 10 businesses were likely to be changing agency partners as they plan for the new year. It is this latest article that sparked our decision to take a closer look as to why businesses change agencies.

Eight reasons businesses change agencies


Making the decision to change agency partners is a challenging one. Typically, both the business and the agency invest a meaningful amount of time and money into building a foundation for a working relationship. It is when the foundation begins to crumble that change is considered. Here are the first eight reasons businesses consider changing agencies:

  • There are Constant Issues with Communication. …
  • Your Agency is not Transparent with You. …
  • Your Agency Doesn’t Understand Your Business or Industry. …
  • Your Agency Has Implemented a Poor Strategy. …
  • Their Output is Getting Sloppy. …
  • Consistent Missing of Goals. …
  • Minimal Reporting.

The most common reason for a business to change agencies is the introduction of new leadership within the business. Change of leadership equals change of preferred partners or change of agency approach. New leaders are typically charged with facilitating change, introducing new ideas, and delivering results. One of the easiest ways to make this happen is by bringing an agency on board with whom the new leadership has a relationship. The first step of the learning curve, building a trusting relationship, is already in place. New ideas from different sets of eyes deliver results, even if the results are simply a new way of doing things.

Vetting new agency partners


First, RFPs do not work. Yes, companies select agencies frequently by giving them a standardized test. They often ask the agencies to feel free to demonstrate their best thinking within the lines of the RFP. Stray outside of the lines and you may be disqualified. Add no budget for the creative assignment or even a limited budget and the agencies are faced with a decision that is contrary to starting a good working relationship.

Referrals matter when seeking a new agency partner. The direct experiences of current and past clients will provide more insight than a standardized test. You can ask about the number one consideration – people – and likely get an unfiltered answer. They can ask questions and receive examples of process and results. You can also ask what can be done better which is a tough question for an agency to answer.

Imitation can be the sincerest form of flattery; more specifically, talk with the agencies and the clients of the work that impresses you the most. If you are seeking creative only from your agency, the world is your oyster. You can pursue conversations with most all agencies. If subject matter experience is important, you can look in other categories of the industry you serve or parallel.

Agency types


We mentioned seeking a creative agency or one with subject matter experience. In our pursuit of answering the question why, we identified three agency types – advertising, marketing, business development. In short, we found creative agencies that provide their skills to produce the communications their client’s desire. Marketing agencies provide subject matter experience or industry in addition to the creative skills. Business development agencies provide both creative and marketing skills plus operational experience. If you are interested in more detail on this subject, click HERE.

Tis the season


If you have thought twice about making a change of your agency partners, now is the best time. You are in the planning and budgeting season for the new year, so you enlist new ideas, manage transitions, and work with real numbers for budgets and performance goals. Making a change can be difficult but is often necessary. Do not settle for anything less than what you expect of yourself. Working with an agency that meets your expectations starts with defining these expectations for you, your team, and the agency from the start.

Learning the why for the who is a terrific exercise for your business, partners, and clients, both current and prospective. As a team who embraces gaining and using these insights across audiences, we encourage you to give it a try, we are here to help you.





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