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  • Writer's picturePHAT Marketing

When an Agency Oversteps

We all want to partner with an agency that gets us and loves our brand like their own, but what happens when they go too far and cross over into creeper status? Let's explore why this may happen and how to establish clear boundaries.

It feels really awesome when an agency understands your brand and treats it with respect just like you do, but there are times when the lines are blurred and they step into territory where they just don't belong.

When I was on the client side, I once had an agency partner who continually stepped on my toes. The agency had previously worked with some of the people on my team and the client/agency relationship was established before I started at the organization, so they were essentially running things. When I came onboard, I immediately noticed how much the agency was in the weeds. They were on nearly all internal meetings and had full control of the company's branding. I brought it up to my boss and asked what was up. He said that it was a "touchy subject" with some of the team members because they loved the people at the agency and thought they did a great job for them at their previous company. Great. Now I had to deal with internal politics (side note: you'll hear much more about this but just know that I DESPISE politics and refuse to "play the game") and establish rules of engagement with an agency. Here's how I did it and how you can too... without losing your mind.

Show Everyone You Know What You're Doing

You're going to have to prove your worth to both your internal team and the external agency. Allow some of your internal team members to sit in on the first few meetings between you and the overstepping agency. YOU run the agenda. YOU take notes. YOU send out the invitation and own the meeting from start to finish. Don't let the agency take all the credit. Show your team that you understand the job they hired you to do and you're going to rock it. Granted, there are some meetings that agencies should run too, like when they report monthly analytics.

Take Action

You'll need to see if this previously-established relationship just isn't working and take steps to change it. In my case, my internal team had already signed a 2-year partnership agreement, so I was stuck. I decided to take action the best way I knew how - by providing the agency with feedback on every single asset they created. I could have easily fixed the grammatical errors, edited the images, or created the landing pages myself, but I let them do it and provided the most honest feedback that I could to help them understand our brand. Eventually, we got to a really great place because they saw that my comments added value and came from a good place where we could all learn something together.


The point is that it's important to work with the right partners who just get you. Here at PHAT Marketing, we want to help brands discover (or rediscover!) who they are. Our consulting services are comprehensive and complete. We promise to deliver valuable insights that help shape your marketing strategy so you can reach the right people at the right time with the right message – all by staying true to who your brand truly is. Reach out to us today to see how we can help.

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