Feb 8, 2018 3:25:22 PM by Tina Miletich

Why You Should Say No to a "Yes Man"

Strategic Growth, Marketing, Digital Marketing

Have you been questioning lately whether or not your agency is really helping your business? This may be due to several reasons, but one outstanding factor in the industry is the “yes man” syndrome. If your agency is a “yes man” agency, then it’s time for a new agency. 


What do we mean by a “yes” person or “yes man” agency? It’s when a person, team or agency fails to think of the client or the client’s business goals and says “yes” to everything. Why?

  • They want your approval and believe this will build loyalty.
  • They aren’t as experienced as they said or you thought they were.
  • They want your money.
  • They would rather you come up with the ideas and strategies, rather than themselves, so they feel protected from being blamed.

Let’s begin with wanting your approval and loyalty. Agencies, especially start-up agencies, want more than anything to collect a loyal clientele. Their goal is for you to like them and to create a lasting business relationship, so in their minds, saying yes to everything is an easy way to accomplish this. It’s scary to say no to a new client especially if you are a small start-up agency but you are truly not putting your client and their needs first if you are not strong enough to have a hard conversation about doing the right thing for your client’s business. You must be strong enough to have a real conversation with the Senior Marketers otherwise your business won’t grow and you will only be seen as a “YES” agency. Maybe in the beginning of your client relationship, this makes the client feel great but in the long run this will not bode in your favor forever.

In some cases, the company is not as experienced as they might’ve first pitched to you. They just don’t have the experience to make big decisions on your behalf. Also, due to their less mature stature, they rely on agreeing with everything you say or suggest because they don’t know how to push the edges for you or come up with new creative strategies. It’s obvious that this is a recipe for disaster. When you notice the red flags of an inexperienced agency, start thinking about your “plan B.”

A desire for money may be the biggest reason agencies are classified as a “yes man” agency. They will say yes to anything, not so much so that your business will grow, but because they are concerned about meeting their own expenses. Watch for signs when an agency stops talking about value and the benefits that your company will achieve with a given strategy or tactic. Instead, they will be over indexing on the dollars they need to cover their services. Your agency should always be talking and thinking about you and not them.

Another reason why agencies will consistently say yes is because they would rather you be held accountable for decisions or actions made on behalf of the company. This is a way for the agency to hide behind you and protect themselves. Although saying no may be uncomfortable at times, suggesting new ideas can be beneficial. This type of forward thinking can be a catalyst to new and improved changes. If an agency is always agreeing with a business or client, it is less likely that the company will evolve through new outside ideas.

If any of these situations sound familiar to you, it’s time to start an agency review. Remember a “yes man” may seem positive, but as my mother always cautioned us as children, “too much laughing always leads to crying.”

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