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A Short-Term Romance: Marketing Cuffing Season Leads to Lost Love and Ho-Hum Campaigns

Updated: Feb 9

Cuffing season begins in early fall and ends in March. For singles, cuffing season signifies the search for a relationship that has potential to bud into a short-term cozy commitment. Cuffing season refers to being “cuffed” or coupled up, and this pursuit of convenient coupledom correlates to the cold winter months. The love, however, is as long-lasting as the now-defunct Fruit Stripe gum.

Hand in heart

Businesses can fall in love with short-term marketing partnerships, leading to a cuffing season for marketing. Brief and fleeting relationships between clients and marketers feel dizzyingly joyful initially; the love is potent until it’s not.

Has your business fallen out of love with a marketing partner? Do you jump from one marketing agency to the next, looking for that great love, seeking out the dopamine surge only satiated by the viral campaign of your dreams? GROW your view of love and marketing partnership; here is why you must uncuff from marketing cuffing season.

Table of Contents:

Lost Love: Marketing Heartbreak and Disappointment

Love Bombing: The Agency That Smothers

A “Ghost” of an Agency

Compatibility Test: Is It a Match?

  • The Key Question: What Do You Love About Marketing?

The Single Life: Should You DIY Your Marketing?

  • Social Media Marketing Tips

  • Marketing Tricks

Lost Love: Marketing Heartbreak and Disappointment

Frustrated woman on laptop

The love might be palpable in the beginning stages of the relationship with your agency. They are SO CREATIVE! The team is FUN! Love is in the air.

A few months fly by, and things begin to feel different. The billing statement arrives, and the monthly summary accompanies it. Where are the results?  Frustration seeps into the relationship. The FUN now seems dysfunctional. Is it you? Is it the agency?

You’re talking less and seeing each other less. Communication has broken down. Why are there infrequent social media posts? Where are the emojis? Where is the fun, the joy, the actionable CTAs? This is not the relationship you wanted.

Is the love lost? Has heartbreak and disappointment crept into a once great relationship? Or was it never really great in the first place?

Choosing a marketing agency isn’t about butterflies and facades of fun. Perhaps the “faux fun” hid blandness or stagnated true and unique creativity. Agencies need to know a client’s expectations, and the agency needs to communicate if those expectations are feasible.

A bad relationship with an agency partner can lead to bad marketing, lackluster results, and frustration for everyone involved. Is the agency a match? Most importantly, is the agency YOUR business’ match?

The pursuit of a marketing match leads many businesses to cuff up without understanding if the agency is the best choice for them. For this reason, the business may bounce from agency to agency, partnering up, and then breaking up when the cozy stops being comfortable or amiable.

There are a few profiles that look great when agency dating. However, agencies who fit into these profiles might not be your marketing match. 

Love Bombing: The Agency That Lays the Love On Thick

Laptop with Heart

A business might interview several agencies when searching for the ideal marketing agency. One might stand out for a very sweet and specific reason. This agency doesn’t want you to forget them. To stay visible, they pull out all the love. You receive notes and follow-ups, and you even receive agency swag!

The focus on gaining your business and the industrious pursuit is nice. This attentive behavior may continue through the working relationship for a short period. Make no mistake, though, the love bombing agency can’t keep up with the love. Not that they intend to keep up; the swag, the messages, their attention was all a means to woo.

Many agencies pull out all the best moves to make a lasting impression. However, the love bombing agency won’t be able to deliver the love for an extended period. A great agency will woo and deliver. They also won’t ghost you when times get tough.

The “Ghost” of an Agency

Ghosting is poor behavior and a bad look. And, yes, unfortunately, agencies and clients ghost each other. Ghosting is disappearing without an explanation; it’s a death without an obituary and a severed relationship without closure. Even if that closure is false and leads to the inevitable: “It’s not you, it’s me” perpetual lie. 

Ghosting in the marketing industry happens because communication breaks down and neither the agency nor the client wants to bridge the communication gap. Sometimes, there are personality clashes; other times, the relationship has soured. 

An agency shouldn’t ghost you; an agency definitely shouldn’t ghost you while still mailing invoices for services rendered. Want to avoid the ghost of an agency? Always read contracts before signing with a marketing agency; some contracts bind clients for a year. And even if results are poor or the agency goes silent, the client could have little recourse.

Marketing ghosting

Question all the lovey-dovey promises in the proposals and presentations. Ask for data, request case studies, and make the agency work for the business. A good agency isn’t smoke, mirrors, bouquets, chocolates, or smothering attention. Good agencies show results and don’t simply tell you what you want to hear. 

Hey, Bruh: The Bromance Agency

The foosball table sits in the middle of the War Room. Strategizing is best accomplished while twisting a line of players, after all. The office boasts a gym and vintage arcade games (extra bonus points if one of those arcade games is Tapper). The dress code: board shorts, jeans, and sandals with treads made from reclaimed tires. You’re offered an IPA; it’s cool, they stock craft beer. Company perk.

Welcome to the bromance agency, where the legacy is chill, the work is fueled by ironic irony, and there’s nary a shaved face in sight. The creativity is clearly illustrated by vintage rock posters, prints of their “metal” ad campaigns (used as a colloquial adjective synonymous with the music genre, not actual metal…although, metal fabricators could be a bromantic client), and the strategically placed scooters used for zooming through the halls to inspire fits of creative energy.

The atmosphere is surreal. They get you. They really get you. As you sip your IPA and play your third game of Tapper, though, you wonder how this creativity will translate for your company. But they assure you with a cool “It’s cool, bruh,” and, somehow, you feel that it really is going to be cool.

Three months later, you realize that the web design you requested doesn’t really land. Yes, it’s cool. But it’s not your kind of cool. Yet, the vibe was so fun, so chill, so…welcoming. 

The flipside ot the Bromance Agency is the BFF Agency, where the sweetness runs thick as molasses, motivational signs like Live, Laugh, Love decorate the walls, and the dress code is quite coquette. The danger of the Bromance and BFF agencies is that the vibe doesn’t always align with their clients; while feeling like part of their crew is nice, your business must ensure that the agency can deliver beyond one flavor and one vibe.   

Compatibility Test: Is It a Match?

Relationship marketing

How does your company find your marketing agency match? What determines a compatible working relationship? When searching for a marketing agency partner, take a compatibility test. We’re not recommending you refer to the stars and determine if the zodiac signs are aligned. Instead, focus on these qualities:

  • Ethics. Always read an agency’s ethics statement. Does your business’ ethics align with those of the agency?

  • Cost. Some agencies are simply not compatible with your budget. 

  • Commitment. If the agency demands a year-long commitment, are you willing to marry them?

  • Work scope. An agency should provide a proposal that outlines its tactics for improving your website, social media outreach, or increasing your visibility. How will they do this?

  • Personality. Who will be your account manager? Do you mesh with them? An agency should understand which managers are best for each client. 

The Key Question for Agencies: What Do You Love About Marketing?

Any agency you hire should be able to answer this question briefly and without hesitation. If marketing fuels their business, they should be able to communicate their love. 

However, the love should go both ways. Why does YOUR BUSINESS love marketing? More importantly, what do you expect from marketing campaigns and outreach? An agency must know the expectations for results and benchmarks in a client relationship. 

Sometimes, a client’s marketing expectations differ from a marketing reality. For example, expecting viral campaigns or posts consistently is not realistic. Most social media posts and reels never reach viral status; this does not mean that they cannot reach viral status; it simply means that “going viral” happens infrequently.

When an agency understands that expectations aren’t feasible, most will communicate true result expectations through data points and research. Your agency match should not agree to the impossible to appease.

The Single Life: Should You DIY Your Marketing?

If a business has experienced poor relationships with marketing agencies or simply cannot find the perfect match, the single life might seem alluring. Should you DIY your marketing?

Many business owners think that marketing is simple. Just post a few blogs, keep up with social media, and voila, the customers will find you. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more to marketing than social media and blogs. Here’s what you need to consider about taking the DIY approach to marketing:

Social Media Apps

Social Media Marketing Tips

Social media marketing typically involves all the major social platforms: Facebook, Instagram, X, and Tik Tok. Some agencies also handle YouTube content for their clients.

When agencies post on behalf of their clients, the focus on several points in each post:

  • Brand voice consistency

  • Timeliness

  • Visual appeal

  • Concise content

Brand voice consistency is crucial across all platforms. A client's voice can change from professional to laid-back or creative. The voice is the voice, and it must be consistent. Agencies know this, but companies often do not understand this niche detail. If multiple employees post on behalf of the company, the voice can become quite chaotic.

Timeliness refers to content that is relevant NOW. Wishing a Happy Memorial Day should be posted on the holiday, not before and not after. Marketing professionals also stay on top of industry headlines to grab data and stories that have wider appeal and are extremely relevant.

The visual appeal of posts ensures they don't look boring. Great photos or graphics grab attention. Agencies typically employ in-house designers who can create custom graphics, charts, and illustrations that look amazing when paired with a post.

Concise content means that posts and reel narratives are sharp, engaging, and focused. Agencies also employ professional writers and marketing managers who know how to craft creative and engaging content.

Marketing Tricks

Business owners and employees know their industry and their role. Do you know the marketing tricks of an agency? Most agencies follow specific SOPs for marketing campaigns, and marketing managers are also well-connected throughout their industry.

A marketing team brings a synergistic approach to every outreach effort, ad campaign, and blog. The agency is in the marketing business, and its bag of tricks is unique.

GROW Marketing Agency Heart behind Logo

Meet Your Match

GROW is the most loved digital marketing agency in St. Louis, and we have the reviews to prove it. We don't require year-long contracts, and our proposals are tailored to meet your needs and budget. Our team works with various clients, and we match each company with their ideal marketing manager.

Stop the search if your company feels burned out from the marketing dating scene. Uncuff during marketing cuffing season, don't fall for the love-bombing, and meet your match with GROW.

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Image by Jr Korpa

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