Partnering with a marketing agency tends to be a smarter investment for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) than building an in-house team, but many of today’s busy executives don’t know how to start the search for an agency that fits their business’s needs, culture and management style. To make their job easier, we’ve developed a list of only the most important criteria to use in sizing up marketing agencies. Just like when shopping for groceries, making and using a list saves time and money, bringing an organized approach to purchasing only what you need. Don’t waste time researching agencies that you know won’t give you what you want in a marketing partner.
Although these criteria also apply to finding other types of marketing partners, the seven factors we’ll review were chosen specifically for business leaders searching for a B2B marketing agency.
Get started by leveraging The 7 P’s of Choosing a B2B Marketing Agency, and take note of the characteristics in each that would benefit your business the most and lead to a greater return on marketing investment (ROMI).
1. Product: Capabilities and Packages
The first thing you’ll want to review about a marketing agency contender is the products or services it offers. Does the marketing agency offer everything you need? Does it have the potential to offer more services as your company expands? Make a note of the capabilities you need now and then think about what your team might need in the future. Full-service agencies act as a single source for all marketing services, providing more than just the basics. Integrated marketing agencies combine traditional tactics with new strategies like inbound marketing, optimizing the blend to serve their clients’ needs. You might even stumble across an agency that is both full-service and integrated. Many SMBs also get the most ROMI from a retainer, which allows them to execute long-term strategies uninterrupted at a fixed rate.
2. Portfolio: Experience and Specialties
The best partnership is one in which both parties understand each other’s point of view. That’s why having a marketing agency that specializes in your industry or has experience marketing products and services like yours is extremely valuable. Look for agencies that frequently serve clients in your industry, boast relevant experience and employee backgrounds or share impressive results of campaigns you’d like to execute. We’ve already created a checklist for healthcare and pharma companies to use in their search, but it’s important for those in other industries, such as software and technology or manufacturing and business services, to decide how familiar their marketing partner should be with their field.
3. Process: Ways of Delivering Results
Are your prospective B2B marketing agencies transparent about the way they deliver results for clients? Companies that showcase a proven process or methodology often get more business because they give leads a peek at what it means to partner with them. When researching agencies, seek out information on how they typically approach implementing marketing strategies and tactics and how they work with their clients. Does the agency follow a closed-loop process? Does the agency regularly optimize clients’ marketing techniques and plans? Does the agency consistently update clients on campaign statuses and offer suggestions for new marketing efforts? Don’t just examine what services an agency offers—try to learn how they offer services so you can find the best fit for your business.
4. People: Team Credentials and Approach
Companies aren’t just made of processes—they’re made of people. Partnering with an agency whose people mesh well with your existing internal marketing team, executives and company culture is vital to maintaining a great relationship and seeing continued results. When agencies pitch to prospects, they’ll often bring along the account manager who’d be dedicated to their account, giving the company a chance to feel out the agency’s team and their approach to client relations. Try to organize an opportunity to meet more of the people at your prospective marketing agencies and remember to ask about their background, credentials, certifications and experience. The best marketing partner boasts a team of individuals who blend marketing and branding experience with sharp industry and business acumen.
5. Platforms: Resources and Partners
A good B2B marketing agency should provide its clients with access to popular platforms and partners and leverage the latest tools and technologies to deliver exceptional professional services. Working with a team that brings added expertise and support to tools like WordPress, HubSpot, Adobe Creative Cloud and Google Ads can help your company push past the competition and achieve accelerated success. Look for agencies that are aligned with top marketing software partners and emphasize in their messaging the importance of tech and automation in modern integrated marketing plans.
6. Performance: Success Stories and ROI
Success stories can be reliable sources of demonstrated skills, results and ROI, but it’s important to know what you’re looking for when you evaluate case studies, testimonials, online reviews and other performance reports. As you examine these materials, try to find the proven processes, raw data and unique approaches that not only demonstrated growth, but also ensured consistency in the company’s long-term performance. The best case studies clearly lay out the situation, strategy and results in an unbiased way, leaving room for readers to imagine how their company might discover their own success story with the agency.
7. Prizes: Awards, Accolades and Press
Accolades aren’t everything, but in the world of marketing, they do carry weight. Good press, awards and other accolades show that a marketing agency is sufficiently established in the industry and is deserved of recognition by the marketing and B2B community. Most marketing awards, like Marcomm and Clutch, aim to highlight well-performing agencies that maintain market presence, deliver top-notch results and excel in client satisfaction. Don’t discount this area when searching for your next marketing partner and do your research to learn what each accolade might mean for your partnership.
If you use these seven P’s to guide your search for the ideal B2B marketing agency, you’ll be rewarded with a new marketing partner that puts you first and possesses the right expertise, tools, tactics and people to accelerate your short- and long-term success. Find out if Sagefrog makes your shortlist by scheduling a free Marketing Plan Consultation with our team to review the nitty-gritty of your top objectives and current struggles. After our meeting, you’ll receive a personalized marketing plan summary that includes our expert recommendations on the tactics you need to use, the best practices you need to follow and your next steps.
Are you interested in B2B marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today.