Hiring a B2B marketing agency is a big decision. You’re handing over the reins of your company’s image to an external company. Essentially, a bunch of strangers! And while the right agency can work magic for your sales and brand, it takes a deep understanding of what your business needs and what the agency offers to form a valuable partnership.
If you’re meeting with your next potential marketing agency soon, ask the five questions below to find out if they fit your business, goals, and culture.
What are your core services or specialty?
Marketing is a broad, broad term. Some marketing agencies are focused on hosting events, others produce high-quality videos, and some focus on inbound marketing (that’s us). Before you walk (or log in) into a meeting with a marketing agency, be sure to have a solid grasp on what you’re hoping to accomplish by hiring an agency. Otherwise, you may end up hiring an agency that’s not a great fit or adds services that don’t make sense for your goals.
Also, be wary of the marketing agency that claims to do anything and everything. Unless it’s a massive firm, it’s rare to find a marketing agency that can execute every marketing tactic at a high level. Determine what you need and find a company that does it well.
Do you have experience in our industry?
Industry experience shortens the learning curve and improves strategy. Marketing agencies with experience in your industry will be able to understand your service or product quickly, have a grasp on your target audience, and which marketing channels typically resonate.
But just like the marketing industry is a broad collection of disciplines, your industry may also exhibit considerable diversity. Depending on how niche your industry and business are, it may be challenging to find an agency that offers the precise combination of past experience, acceptable pricing, and the marketing style you desire. If you find yourself in this boat, find an agency that will take the time to interview subject matter experts and perform market research and competitive analysis to get a firm understanding of your industry and business.
Do you have proof of success?
First, decide how you will measure success when working with an agency. Are you employing an agency to craft an email campaign? Success could mean generating a certain number of leads.
Are you hiring an agency to redesign your website? Success could mean a website that pleases key stakeholders who want to modernize and refocus the website’s value proposition
Once you settle on what marketing success means for you, ask your prospective agencies whether they have case studies on similar projects. Case studies should illustrate the problem brought to the agency and how they delivered the solution.
While not as illustrative as case studies, referrals and testimonials can also show that an agency has proven success in an area.
What are the expectations for communication?
Any project can be derailed by poor communication. When it comes to working with a marketing agency, where feedback and guidance are necessary from both sides, communication is paramount.
On the agency side, most agencies employ account managers, the main point of contact between your company and the team working on your project. Typically, they’re responsible for facilitating your project and providing status updates, but how frequently is often up to the client.
Of course for clients, staying communicative with your agency is of the utmost importance, but one of the main reasons companies seek out agency help is that their internal marketing team doesn’t have the capacity to deliver a project— much less attend meetings.
That’s why it’s so important to find an agency that works with your schedule and time capacity. Outside of briefs and status updates, every agency will expect your team to allocate time to review and approve work. Believe us, it’s better for both parties when realistic expectations for communication are, well, communicated before an agreement is signed.
What is your culture like?
Just like personal relationships, some business partnerships just gel. Asking about culture can provide a glimpse of how the company operates and the people you’ll be working with. Is your prospective agency bold or known for taking huge creative chances? Or are they data-driven and analytical?
Again, what works for your company depends on your own goals and internal culture. Think about the type of company culture your team will work best with before taking any meetings.
Outside of meeting with the marketing agency, browse social media or check out any available company or about us pages on their website. While curated, a company’s online presence can give you an impression of what to expect.
Employing a top-notch marketing agency is one of the best ways to ramp up your business without expanding your internal team. Use these questions as an ice-breaker to find out if your potential agency is better staying a stranger or may become an invaluable partner. If you’re interested in inbound marketing and want to find out if Hivehouse Digital is a good match for you, let’s talk!