We get asked all the time by different companies, particularly manufacturers: “What do I do if I want to hire an outside agency and outsource all our marketing? How can I tell which marketing agency is a good fit for our business?”

Here are four things manufacturers should consider when searching for a digital marketing agency.

  • You need an internal team, regardless.
  • Find an agency that understands B2B.
  • Your agency needs to have a spine.
  • If they can’t prove ROI, then go elsewhere.

1. YOU NEED AN INTERNAL TEAM REGARDLESS

First of all, you don’t always need to outsource your digital marketing. You may be able to do enough with your own resources. Even if not, you still need someone in-house before you turn outwards to an agency.

Your internal team doesn’t have to be huge– it can honestly just be one person. However, that one person is vital. Why?

Your outside agency still needs to communicate with someone in your company.

That point of contact needs to have the time and resources (like brand guidelines) to help the agency do what they were hired to do.

It’s extremely difficult for an agency to try and coordinate their marketing efforts with a CFO or the owner of a manufacturing company. Why? Because marketing isn’t that individual’s first priority.

You need at least one internal staff member who can focus on working with that outside agency.

It doesn’t have to be their sole task, but it should be a designated duty they’re meant to pursue. Otherwise, if none of your own workers have the bandwidth for marketing, then nothing is going to get done.

2. FIND AN AGENCY THAT UNDERSTANDS B2B

There are millions of agencies out there, and many of them specialize in different tactics.

Some might focus solely on PPC (pay-per-click) or SEM (search engine marketing) or social media. Others are jack-of-all-trades agencies, but they really don’t know how to handle any business model except B2C.

It’s best to look for an agency that has experience working with B2B businesses, or with manufacturers specifically.

Why? Because your sales funnel is different from that of, say, a fast food chain.

Your personas and buying cycles are different, too.

For example, pre and post-sales training videos are not a very B2C practice. But your company may need to regularly educate distributors on how to appeal to end-users with your product.

A B2C-centric agency might have no idea how that dealer/distributor/channel partner relationship works.

Could they still be a good agency for you? Maybe. But you’d better be prepared to spend some time helping them with that learning curve.

3. FIND AN AGENCY WITH A SPINE

Here’s the deal. Just because an agency does whatever you ask them to…doesn’t mean they’re a good fit. And just because they can use any tactic for you…doesn’t mean they should.

If they tell you, “We can do anything you want,” then they’re not doing their job.

Your agency should have the guts to say, “We can try that tactic for you, but it might not be a good fit for reaching your buyer personas.”

You’re looking for experts; not “yes” men.

Should they listen to your requests? Definitely. Should they learn about your business? Absolutely! But from there, they should be capable of doing what you hired them to do: marketing your company.

If your agency does nothing but ask for instructions to follow, then they don’t actually know what they’re doing. And that’s not worth your time or money.

4. FIND AN AGENCY THAT CAN PROVE ROI

In the end, you may wind up with an agency that has never worked with B2B before, and they may be throwing spaghetti at the wall with no idea which tactic will stick.

If that’s the case, all is not lost.

What matters most is whether your agency can tell you which tactics are actually bringing in revenues.

Don’t just stand for talk about impressions or website traffic or social media followers. Those numbers mean nothing unless you can correlate them directly with sales.

Digital technologies are closing the gap between sales and marketing more and more. Now you can track a buyer’s journey from start to finish! The question is…do you?

Learning from past evidence is how you adapt future campaigns and tactics to gain even more new clients.

Can your agency point out a new client or buyer that came in through their campaigns? It’s vital that they do so. Otherwise, how do you know if what you’re paying for is actually working?

Your digital marketing agency may have “marketing” in their job title, but sales should be their ultimate goal.

If not…then it’s time to reevaluate your relationship with them.

 

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