Looking for a new B2B marketing agency to partner with can be both exciting and stressful. If you select an agency that understands your business and implements a winning lead generation strategy, then you have SUCCESS! However, if you choose an agency that doesn’t deliver, it may reflect poorly on you.
In a time when B2B marketing budgets may be decreasing or under increasing scrutiny, it’s critical that you select the right agency the first time. We’ve put together 5 crucial questions to ask each and every agency that you interview.
What is your experience in my industry or with similar clients?
Simply asking if an agency has experience in your particular market or industry is not enough. By asking what the agency’s experience is in your industry or with similar clients ensures that they provide more comprehensive information. For example, a B2B marketing agency may have worked with 1 accounting firm in the past which demonstrates they have a little experience, or they may have worked on launching and managing marketing campaigns for 20+ accounting firms which demonstrates the agency understands the main challenges and nuances of the accounting industry.
Try to get a good understanding of what their level of experience is in your industry, not just whether they have it at all.
It’s also recommended to ask for a few introductions to past or current clients in similar industries who had needs consistent with yours. Taking the extra time to speak to other clients will dramatically increase the probability that you select the right agency.
What are your capabilities and experience?
Many B2B agencies specialize in a few different services. They may offer B2B web design, SEO, and development. Or they may handle content marketing, SEO, and email marketing. Or they may work primarily in creating account-based marketing and automated email campaigns. For this question, don’t be afraid to ask specifically for what you need or what you anticipate needing in the future. The right B2B agency will have experience in what you know you need and will recommend other strategies that can benefit your business.
How do you measure success?
It may come as a surprise, but not all agencies measure success using the same terms, metrics, or tools. When vetting whether an agency is the right fit for your company, share with them what is specifically important to you and your internal stakeholders and ensure the agency is aligned with this definition of success. For example, if lead generation is your primary goal for a B2B marketing strategy, but the agency you interview is focused more on website traffic and keyword rankings rather than qualified leads – you will not be on the same page.
Read more: Critical Skills to Master in B2B Marketing.
What are your business goals for the next 5 – 10 years?
This question may seem like fluff, but it’s crucial to the long-term success of your marketing strategy and outcomes. B2B marketing campaigns and agency partnerships perform well when they have a long-term focus. This long-term vantage point is driven by the relatively longer sales cycle in B2B. In some industries, the sales cycle may be 6 months up to 2 years. If the agency you choose plans to have tremendous growth over the next 5 years, you may be a big fish to them now and a small fish in the next year – and your account management will reflect that.
Ideally, you will choose a stable B2B marketing agency that does not have a track record of hiring and firing large amounts of staff – as that can lead to a lot of instability for your overall strategy. Ask this question as a means to determine not only if your agency will be around in the near future, but if their long-term goals will align with your firm’s long-term strategy.
What is it like to work with your agency?
If your firm is fast-moving and nimble, you should partner with an agency that has a similar mindset. If your firm prefers a thoughtful, measured approach, you likely want to work with an agency that understands and supports that. When you ask a potential marketing partner what it’s like to work with you, the right agency won’t just tell you. Instead, they will show you by providing an existing or previous client referral. Then you can chat with that client and ask them about their experience with that agency. Happy clients are excellent sources of candid, real insight into the relationship with that agency.
You also want to speak to your designated account manager before committing. Much of your relationship with an agency is based on working with one person: the account manager. Get a sense that you can get along with this person.
The above doesn’t cover every single question you may have for a B2B marketing agency, but they provide an equal bar for how you can measure various agencies against your marketing needs.