When it comes to choosing a B2B marketing agency, not all agencies are the same. Picking the right one can accelerate your growth.
Look for an agency that will take the time to understand your industry and the nuances of the audiences you serve. Your agency should have an intimate understanding of the buyer journey to develop sales and marketing materials to generate messages that resonate with consumers across all phases of the buying cycle. They should also have the ability to deploy these full service marketing strategies across several key channels such as search engines, social media, and email.
Four Key Areas
When you’re starting the process of looking for a B2B marketing agency for your business, it starts with focusing on your needs. The better you can articulate your needs and goals, the better your search will be. Here are four areas to start the conversation:
- Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- Resources & Staffing
When you’re picking a B2B marketing agency, you don’t need to have the exact strategy in mind. That’s what you expect your agency to do. However, you do need to explain the outcomes you expect. Are you trying to increase your brand awareness, conversion rates, or lead generation? Each target may take a different strategy.
You’ll need to think about the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you will use to track progress against the goal and evaluate your agency. Do you want quarterly reports, monthly reports, or a self-serve dashboard with real-time data? Knowing your needs can help an agency frame up a proposal.
Resources & Staffing
Your agency should work as an extension of your team to accelerate your brand’s mission & marketing goals. Whether you’re looking for an agency to work alongside your team or outsource your marketing will determine the type of agency you need. Determine what resources and staffing you can provide and what you need from an agency.
Budget is always a tough thing to pin down. While it helps to have an idea of your limitations, the agency you choose will be expert at evaluating what it takes to get the outcomes you want. You don’t want to skimp on budget, but you always need to make sure you are getting what you need and the return on investment is significant. In choosing a B2B marketing agency, you want to work with someone that will be honest with you about what it takes. Spending too little won’t get you the results you need. Spending too much cuts down your efficiency.
If these four things seem daunting, explain your overall goals to the agency and let them take it from there. They deal with these 4 key areas all the time. You can find out a lot of a potential partner by the questions they ask.
Once you’ve got an idea of what you need, it’s time to evaluate fit.
Understand How They Work
You’ll be trusting this agency with your brand and your money. There needs to be a comfortable cultural fit. While you are trusting them to do the job, you are not ceding control. Make sure they are willing to embrace your vision, your ideas, and focus on your goals.
Each agency will work in their own way. You should ask about the process. For example, if they signed you up as a client today, what would you expect in the first week, the first month, or the first 90 days. Make sure they are willing and able to meet your expectations for communication and reporting.
It can be helpful to work with people that have experience in your industry as long as they don’t try to sell you a “one size fits all” strategy. Even in the same industry, each business is unique. Look for someone that listens to you and doesn’t just pull “Package A” out of the stack. The best marketing campaigns evolve from deep conversations about goals and rarely fit into a pre-produced package.
Marketing is no longer just driving customers through the buying funnel. It’s more of a continuous loop. It starts with consumer research and the development of strategy and tactics. It takes relentless execution. It takes measurement and analysis. Then, it takes optimization. Rinse and repeat.
Review Work With A Critical Eye
You’ll certainly want to review samples of their work. Ask for specific examples and results. Awards are great, but results are better. You want to see case studies where they can demonstrate in hard numbers how their efforts, strategies, and tactics led to the outcomes the clients wanted. Ask to talk to past or current clients to assess their effectiveness.
One place to start is by examining the B2B marketing agency’s materials. Do they catch your eye? Are they engaging? Does the design say quality? If there are grammar issues, inconsistent design or branding, or typos on their materials, you might want to think twice.
Does their online content rank show up on the first page of search results? If you expect them to create content with strong SEO, their content should rank highly. If they aren’t going to do it for themselves, will they be able to do it for you?
Demand Brutal Honesty And Transparency
You don’t want someone that will just say yes and take your order. A great B2B marketing agency will challenge your thinking. An agency will look at what you’re doing with a fresh set of eyes. Looking through these experienced lenses, they should be able to see things you can’t.
A good approach is to have the agency review samples of the prior work you’ve done, whether it was done in-house or by another agency. Send some samples of things you think worked well and something that didn’t meet the mark. You want to see what they perceive as good work and whether they will focus not just on the creative aspect but the outcomes they produced.
What price do you put on a great idea or great strategy? It’s not an easy question to answer. Ask for a clear explanation of pricing. Products and approaches will vary, but you must know what things cost before making a decision. If there’s media buying involved, ask if they outsource their work. If they do, ask what the markup is on those purchases.
Look For Passion
Finally, you need to work with people that will be as passionate about your business as you are. These are the people that are going to have to sell your company, your products, or your services. They must be passionate about the work they do and committed to meeting your goals.