Whether you’re already working with a marketing agency, considering partnering with one, or contemplating whether you should continue to invest in your current agency or respectively move on, it’s important to consider, what are some of the ways a marketing agency acts as your partner?
A True Extension of Your Team
You may find this list helps you to identify if your current b2b marketing agency has not turned out to be an advantageous partner and/or some important points to consider when exploring partnership with an agency
They Communicate Effectively With You
Right out the gate, communication is key. First impressions are often derived from the agencies website before you’ve even made yourself known to them as a lead. Does their website look professional? Does the website make it easy for you to learn more about who they are, what they do, and provide a simple process for completing what you want to accomplish by visiting their site, like subscribing to their blog, downloading an educational resource, or submitting a form? This only touches on the surface of the importance of user experience, but my point is, communication starts even before you have ever directly communicated with them and your first impression will guide every decision you make about and with that agency.
If you’re already working with an agency, from the first time you interact with the marketing team (initial consultation and onboarding call) it’s important from the on-set that you and your partner agree on a plan for how frequently you’ll communicate, and how. A good partner will provide flexible options for communication based on your preferences like communication by Skype, email, phone or some other platform for collaboration like Basecamp, or Google Drive.
They Set Goals With You
Starting a relationship with a marketing agency without S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals, is like shoving your business out of a plane with no parachute, oh, and a boat load of money behind it. No business owner I know wants to do that. One of the most critical ways a marketing agency is your partner is, not only should they advise you on goal sets you already have in place, but also work with you to set S.M.A.R.T goals for the ROI you want to see as a result of partnering with them. For example, if you’re hiring them to increase traffic to your website, a smart goal would be:Increase monthly unique organic traffic sessions by 30% by August 1st 20**It’s specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. But that’s not where you say thanks very much, see you in six months to see if you reached the goals we set. Not even close. At that point, your partner develops a comprehensive strategy to reach those goals, and works with you to brainstorm what kind of challenges your business and the agency could face in reaching the goals, then finally, develops an actionable timeline of tasks and deliverable’s which in more cases than not, means you have homework to do too (it takes two, baby).
They Actually Want You To Be Involved
Now, first things first, there are some clients out there that actually want to hand marketing off to an agency, not hear from them except for monthly reporting and not spend a minute more than they need communicating with the agency. That’s not ideal, why? Because marketing does not exist in a vacuum; because more often than not, you know your ideal customer better than anyone; and because a partner needs to know your business and know you, to really excel at marketing your business. Any agency, who gives you the impression that they just want you to go away and come back in x amount of months to see results, isn’t a very good partner to have on board.Let’s circle back to that more often than not, you know your ideal customer better than anyone. When it comes to writing content for the website or blog, or contributing to external publishing opportunities in your vertical for the purpose of gaining links back to your site, you are the content goldmine. Yes YOU! Content like copy on the website, blog posts, social posts, and external press releases, all needs to be tailored for your ideal customer. This may mean you or a member of your team get involved in writing content and adhering to a regular schedule of content for your marketing partner to utilize. Your partner should desire your involvement in building buyer personas, a framework for the different ideal customers you or your sales team talks to every day. In the case that you and your team are unable to contribute to content, see #8, your partner should be providing recommendations for handling this critical piece of your overall marketing strategy like launching a content marketing campaign with your partner, or outsourcing content to a writer experienced in web writing in your vertical.
They Work As An Extension Of Your Team
Working as an extension of your team first means asking about the roles and responsibilities of key people in your company. In order to avoid unnecessary, time-consuming, and money-wasting overlap between your team and your partners’ team, everyone needs to understand where one role ends and another begins. You and your partner will get off to a great start if you make the time to rally your team for the on-boarding call with the agency, their team “meets” your team and everyone takes a couple minutes to explain their work responsibilities and areas of expertise at the start of the call, so its easy to identify right away where there could be unnecessary and wasteful overlap.
They Don’t Keep Critical Issues From You
Like any good partner, they don’t keep things from you. If an issue arises, a roadblock, a challenge, or an all-out storm of you-know-what, it’s your business, you’d want to know, right? This one takes finesse. You don’t want your partner calling you at 6am waking you up at home to tell you there’s a problem, or interrupting you while you prepare for your next company meeting, but you do want to be in the know. It’s very telling of an agencies transparency whether you find out about a problem after it’s too late to resolve it, or after it’s already greatly affected their ability to reach the goals agreed upon at the on-set. Your partner should be forthright with any and every challenge they face that affects your business’ marketing goals, and actively work with you to overcome it.
They Build Rapport With You In a Way That Makes It Easy To Know, Like & Trust Them
Ever heard, businesses do business with people they know, like, and trust. Although your partner is not completely separate from you (and shouldn’t be…see #4 they work as an extension of your team) You want to know, like and trust them so during the time you are away working on what you do best, and they’re away working on what they do best, you feel comfortable and confident placing your marketing in their hands. From the client’s view, clear communication, reliable updates and reporting are critical in developing the know, like, trust factor. From an agency’s view, the client’s commitment to working with them on what they need to effectively execute the strategy and reach goals for their client’s business is what separates a great client from a good one.
They Tailor Reports For You Based On Your Marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Like communication, reporting should be discussed at the start of the partnership. Within month one, and even in some cases, before the campaign starts, your partner should outline all key performance indicators directly related to your smart marketing goals. Reporting should easily demonstrate to you the results of the work they are performing in your campaign.
They Make Valuable Recommendations To You
Not all marketing agencies are a full-service agency. Meaning, often agencies outsource parts of a campaign like web development or content writing. It’s ok if your marketing agency isn’t a jack of all trades. You do want to know they’re credible, experienced and trustworthy, but there are so many facets of marketing, not all agencies can manage everything in-house.That said, not all marketing campaigns encompass all of your marketing, because some aspects like content writing and social media engagement may be handled by your team instead of your partners team. Valuable, actionable recommendations should be free-flowing from your partner, in the least, each month they should be providing recommendations for improving aspects of your marketing your team is managing.
They Do Their Due Diligence
This encompasses a whole collection of things like communicating in a way that suits you, setting smart goals, creating a solid measurement plan which identifies the core KPIs for your business, exhaustive keyword and competitor research, ongoing recommendations, reporting that you can easily understand – I could keep going. Your partner’s earnestness in marketing your business is key to success, because if they don’t care, it will show in their work and likely leave money on the table, affecting your bottom line.
They Get You Results!
Obvious, right? Sometimes, not so much. There are a lot of vanity metrics out there. Metrics that may seem to matter to your bottom line, but don’t really directly affect your primary goals. Think of it like an illusionist distracting you with a Vanna White vanity metric, while the metrics that matter to your goal sneak out the stage door unsupervised.Results, real ones, are what you’re after. If you or your partner are not clear on what results are the most important, go back to your smart goals and KPIs.
Are you thinking differently now about how your marketing agency is your partner? I hope so! If you’re currently with a partner who isn’t doing each of these things with you and for you, it’s time you talk about it. If an agency you’re considering isn’t seeming to stack up to these 10 ways your marketing agency is your partner, jump ship now and remember, there’s plenty of marketing fish in the sea. Not all are of equal caliber, but if you put in the leg work and the agency does as well, you’ll be sure to find a marketing partner that can help you reach your goals, and have some fun doing it too.