Partnering with a marketing agency is a big decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The marketing agency you choose will be a trusted brand advocate and tasked with helping you to meet your strategic marketing objectives. At the end of the day, they will either make you look good and help accomplish your goals or they won’t. In this blog post, we take a quick look at how to choose the B2B marketing agency that is the best fit for your needs.
Are All B2B Marketing Agencies Created Equal?
While an agency may not be “better” or “worse” than another agency, they are not all the same. Agencies range in size, approach, skill set, and service offerings. As such, it’s imperative that you find the right B2B marketing agency for your firm.
What Are Their Strengths?
Start by asking what they do best. What are their main service offerings? Be wary of B2B marketing agencies that offer everything. While you want to work with an agency that is a resource for you and can help with all your projects, you want to make sure they excel at the main things you need them to work on. For example:
- B2B or B2C? This is the first question to ask. If they say they do both, they may not entirely understand what makes the B2B space different from consumer-focused brands.
- Digital Marketing? If your main B2B marketing goals include online lead generation, it’s essential that the agency you work with is on top of all the latest digital marketing trends and knows which ones are most effective for B2B firms.
- Web Design? Many agencies say they provide B2B web design services, but in truth, they end up farming it out to someone outside their agency. This can make the process slow or future edits difficult to make on the website.
- Public Relations? There are a lot of great PR firms out there that are dabbling in the digital marketing space, including social media and web design. However, while they are superior in creating buzz and garnering media attention, they may not be able to drive results as far as lead generation as this is not the core function of public relations.
- Lead Generation? Don’t automatically assume that an agency is focused on lead generation. Be sure that when you are discussing your plans with a potential B2B marketing agency, you are clear that lead generation is the main objective and ask how they plan to track and increase leads for your firm.
- Industry Knowledge? Do they know your industry? Many agencies work within a handful of industry verticals as they have discovered these verticals are where they can provide the most value. If a B2B marketing agency hasn’t worked with a client in your industry or in a similar industry, they may not be the right fit.
What Is Their Experience?
We’ve all been there when a salesperson has said yes to everything we’ve asked, only to find out after the sale that they can’t deliver on half of the things we asked about. Rather than asking if they can do something, ask what they have already done. Potential queries might include:
- Industries – As we’ve mentioned before, find out if they have any B2B marketing experience in your industry. Ask for examples of other clients that they have worked within your industry or a similar industry. They should have an organized portfolio ready to show you. If they haven’t worked with your industry, ask what companies they have worked with that are similar and what results they have gotten for them.
- Projects – Projects vary from company to company as goals and objectives are different, however, it’s important to get an idea of what types of projects the B2B marketing firm has worked on. Have they worked on larger projects? Smaller projects? Long-term projects? National projects? Regional projects? You want to ensure they understand your objectives and are able to tailor the marketing services to meet your needs.
- Personnel – Who works for the agency? This is a straightforward question and should be easy to answer. A lot of larger agencies will hire and lay off workers depending on their client load. While this is common, it’s not always a best practice. Ideally, you want to work with a B2B agency that is flexible and adaptable but has an experienced, core group of designers, writers, project managers, developers, and technical specialists that will be managing the day to day work on your project.
- Outsourcing – We work in an age where borders and time zones aren’t barriers, but merely factors. As such, it’s not uncommon for agencies to outsource design, development, copywriting, technical editing or publishing. However, when it comes to your business, it’s essential to have a cohesive brand message and the more outsourced people on a project, the more fractured a brand can become. Ask what duties they specifically outsource and how they manage the process.
How Is Their Sales Process?
What it feels like to be a prospect tells a lot about what it feels like to be a client. If a B2B marketing agency has a smooth sales process that involves understanding your company and your goals, the partnership with that agency will likely be the same. However, if the sales process is bumpy and unpredictable with a lot of uncertainties, it doesn’t leave much hope for their internal project management processes.
Talk to Existing Clients
In addition to looking at their work, talk to existing clients. Seasoned, professional B2B marketing agencies will have a host of clients you are able to contact. Much like you would ask a potential employee for references, you should be asking a potential agency for references as well.
They Should Be Interviewing You as Well
In a true partnership, you both succeed. As such, the right agency will be interviewing you to ensure your firm is the best fit as well. At Bop Design, we are careful during the lead qualification and proposal phase to be sure that the potential client is a good fit for our skill set. If we don’t think our agency is the best fit, we let them know. At the end of the day, it’s on us to ensure our projects are successful, so we only take on projects where we truly believe we can deliver.
This wouldn’t be a helpful article if it didn’t include a few warnings or red flags to watch out for during the B2B marketing agency vetting process. Here are a few giant, waving red flags to keep an eye out for:
- Agencies that promise to meet tight deadlines without reducing the scope
- Vague proposals that don’t detail what is included
- Vastly different proposals from seemingly similar agencies
- Lack of follow-through in the sales process
Lastly, it’s important to find out if the potential partner practices what they preach. Are they going to be running a dynamic social media campaign for you but haven’t touched their own Twitter in six months? Will they be creating a B2B web design for you from scratch but have a website that has several broken links and missing images? A bit of research can tell you a lot about whether the agency really knows their stuff – or is just all talk.
Interested in finding out if Bop Design is the right B2B marketing agency for your firm? Contact us today for a personalized consultation with our B2B experts.