Is Your Client-Agency Relationship on The Rocks?- Joanne Davis

Insights from Leaders
4 min readApr 28, 2023

Published by the ANA - Take the Quiz to See

Do you get the feeling things aren’t what they should be with your agency relationship, that something has gone wrong? Has some of the love been lost?

Is the honeymoon over and you now find yourself worrying, even obsessing that your once blissful agency “marriage” may now be a relationship on the rocks, or worse yet, heading to “divorce court”?

Well, if you aren’t entirely sure, or are simply curious to see how your relationship health shakes out, take the Client-Agency Marriage Health Quiz below reminiscent of those used by marriage counselors! It might just be the shot in the arm to help you to see if you are missing the telltale signs of a client-agency marriage on the rocks.

Client-Agency Marriage Health Quiz

  1. Is your relationship in a rut?
  2. Do you feel resentful of your agency?
  3. Is the creative chemistry lacking or is the work falling flat?
  4. Have you fantasized about what it’d be like to be free of this relationship?
  5. Are you jealous of the work being done for the agency’s other clients?
  6. Have you found yourself complaining about your agency frequently?
  7. Do you go out of your way to avoid your agency?
  8. Do you think your agency is putting less into your relationship?
  9. Do you long to be made to feel special as a client?
  10. Have you lied?


If you answered yes to only two questions — feel better and breathe a sigh of relief, you fall into the low-risk category. But keep an eye on your agency marriage, and work to nip in the bud your limited issues now, before they mushroom into something bigger.

If you answered yes to four to six of the questions, beware — you are wading into the moderate risk category. Now is the time to begin tending to the agency marriage to fix the underlying causes before they spiral further. And if you are among the unfortunate that answered yes to more than five questions, specifically to questions №4, №7, and №10, then you are knee-deep in the high-risk category. You need to make it a top priority to quickly identify the root causes of the issues and develop a thoughtful and detailed approach to remedy the situation.

Other Warning Signs

There are also some other warning signals, or “drumbeats” you should listen for, that might indicate your relationship could be going sour. When thinking of your agency relationship, can you hear any of the drumbeats below?

Drumbeats in the distance:

  • Agency cameras are off on calls.
  • There’s an uptick in agency team turnover and roles not filled.
  • Agency work is not on brief.

Drumbeats getting closer:

  • Agencies are canceling meetings on short notice.
  • Agencies are late on their deliverables.
  • Senior agency leaders miss meetings and send a disproportionate number of junior agency staff.
  • Agency leadership has considerable team turnover.
  • Your business challenges are intensifying, but you are unsure that the agency is grasping the situation.
  • Work must constantly be revised and reworked.

Drumbeats close by:

  • The agency doesn’t make the requested changes.
  • The agency makes the same mistake over and over again.
  • The agency asks for more fees because the rework wasn’t “their fault.”
  • The agency asks for fees for work that you moved to another agency or in-house.

So, What To Do?

Don’t panic. And don’t assume because there is trouble in paradise that “divorce court” is imminent. Often things can be turned around for the better, especially if a client and agency are willing to partner to fix the relationship.

For instance, some clients even choose to bring in an agency “marriage counselor” who offers an objective third-party view, to help them sort through the problems and implement fixes.

It is also important to understand that while recognition of the relationship problems is key, the pain points are usually a symptom of an underlying issue. So, as you dig deep, work to uncover the root causes, to make sure you aren’t just putting a band-aid on the problem.

Take heart in knowing there is a good chance you can fix your marriage, renew your vows (in the Elvis chapel or not) and take that second honeymoon, with years of wedded bliss ahead.

Read the original article here.

Visit Joanne Davis Consulting or connect with Joanne on LinkedIn.



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