Recently, we shared crucial questions to ask a B2B marketing agency to determine if they are the right fit. While this list isn’t an extensive list of questions, it does provide a standard list so you can accurately compare various agencies and look at apples to apples rather than oranges to apples.
In this article, we share tips on how you can evaluate whether a B2B agency is the right fit and how they will partner with you to achieve your marketing goals.
The first step is to ensure you have clearly articulated marketing goals. The goals should be specific and measurable. For example, do you want to grow inbound leads by 30% over last year? Are you looking to increase conversion rates by 15%? Do you need to increase organic website traffic for certain buying terms? What is your cost per customer acquisition goal?
Once you have defined your goals, consider the following to determine how the agency will help you achieve your goals:
What Do They Specialize In?
An experienced agency will clearly represent what they specialize in on their B2B website. If you look around an agency’s website and don’t have a clue who they work with or what services they offer, run!
Ideally, you want to work with a marketing agency that is experienced in B2B marketing, rather than B2C. Additionally, if you are a service-based business, you want to work with a marketing partner who understands service-based businesses. For example, if a firm specializes in ecommerce marketing, they likely aren’t the best fit to help you achieve your goals.
Get an understanding of the services they offer and see if they can provide everything you need. For example, if public relations help is at the top of your list, you likely want a PR-focused agency. If B2B web design is your initial focus, you want to hire an agency who has extensive website design experience. If an agency doesn’t offer the main services/assistance you need – they won’t be able to help you achieve your goals. Also, sometimes it is advisable to split up duties between multiple agencies since finding an agency good at everything is not likely.
Ask What They Outsource?
This is an important consideration for taking on a marketing partner or B2B agency, but is often overlooked. There are agencies of all sizes out there with various capabilities. While it’s ok to outsource certain things, you want to be sure they aren’t outsourcing the major components of your marketing plan. For example, it makes sense to bring in freelance writers to work with you on drafting content, especially if you are looking for an experienced writer who is familiar with your industry or has industry-adjacent knowledge. However, if you are looking to design a new user-friendly B2B website design, the agency should have designers and developers on staff. All design and development do not need to be in-house, but there should be an experience design and development team overseeing all aspects of the project.
Learn more: Why consider hiring an outside B2B marketing agency.
Do They Know Your Industry?
Check to see if the agency has specific industry niches in their portfolio of work. For example, Bop Design specializes in technology, SaaS, finance, and consulting industries. This is important because having experience in your industry means an agency will know what works and doesn’t work. They will also have a foundational knowledge of your business and the learning curve for understanding your business will be much smaller.
Be wary of any agency that says they do not have particular industries they focus on. They might be trying to “be everything to everyone,” which means they don’t have true expertise.
Do They Have a Clear Sales Process?
The sales process is an introduction to what it will be like to work that agency. If the sales process is convoluted or hard to follow, that is often an indicator of their internal customer service. Similarly, if their sales process is seamless, informative, and sensitive to your needs, you can expect a smooth relationship.
Learn more: How to get the most from your B2B marketing partner.
Who Will You Be Working With?
During the sales process, it’s important to find out who you are working with. For the majority of agencies (and B2B firms in general), your sales contact is rarely ever your point of contact for an ongoing marketing project. Sales people are awesome at building relationships and business development, but often lack the skills needed for successful ongoing project management. As such, once you complete the sales process, you should be introduced to your main point of contact who will work with you on your strategy and execution. Find out who this person is and what other team members will be working on your projects.
Does It Seem Too Good to Be True?
We know it’s cliché, but you get what you pay for, particularly when it comes to the services of a B2B marketing firm. Working with an experienced, senior team of B2B marketing professionals can help you reach or exceed your B2B marketing goals, but it’s not cheap. Think of the partnership as an investment, not a cost.
Likewise, if you think you are getting a smoking deal on retaining the services of an agency, you should
a. check your contract to see what is actually included or
b. be skeptical on what they can deliver and the quality.
If all the quotes you get are in the same neighborhood for cost, you are likely comparing apples to apples – but you should still verify that.