How to Work With a B2B Marketing Agency

by | Marketing Strategy

Relationships can be tough, both in your personal and professional lives. The concept of two people with differing viewpoints and experiences working together isn’t always going to be easy. That said, unless you live off the land alone in the woods, you’re going to be working with other people. Luckily, there are ways to make working together in the professional world easy and even enjoyable. If you’re running a B2B business and have hemmed and hawed about whether to bring a B2B marketing agency into the picture, here’s what you should know.

Do I need an agency?

There are a few reasons a company realizes it might need to hire a B2B marketing agency. Maybe you’ve noticed that your workload has gotten too big for your team, or you need expertise that people in-house may not have. Content Marketing Institute suggests that the types of companies that would benefit from some agency assistance include:

  • Early-stage startups that need a flexible marketing solution
  • Mid-sized or large organizations without sufficient internal resources
  • Organizations with temporary staffing challenges
  • Business professionals who want to build their industry reputation

Many people think the best route to take when choosing an agency is making sure the team has experience working in their particular industry. This easy in the B2C world, where there are entire agencies dedicated to a small sector. But it can get trickier when you’re looking for a B2B marketing agency. Most B2B companies are pretty niche, so it’s likely that the agencies you talk to have never worked with another company just like yours.
The best approach is to think long and hard about what challenges you’re hoping this agency will help you work through and ask potential agencies if they’ve ever dealt with a similar situation, and what they accomplished.

Finding the one

What do you do when you’re considering any purchase? You read reviews. You ask your friends and colleagues. While this is undoubtedly a good jumping-off point when looking for your perfect agency, it’s not the only thing you should rely on. When evaluating your options, discuss some situations that may arise or challenges you’re currently having in the marketing area, and see how they would approach your case.
While agencies that you’re consulting with can help you work through what you might need and tailor their services for you, it’s essential to have a general idea of what you want and expect out of your B2B marketing agency. 
Sometimes it can be hard to nail this down in the beginning, especially when there are a lot of people involved in the decision-making process. Avoid a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation and include managers, bosses, executives, and anyone else who might want to be involved early on. You might not need them on every conference call, but they should understand the top objectives and the steps you and your prospective agency are taking to achieve them.

Transparency is key

When your team and an agency team begin working together, they’ll ask you what your goals are. Keep those in mind when assigning projects and revisit them often. Things are going to change, and expectations are going to shift, so you must relay any pertinent information as quickly as you can. 
Don’t wait until your B2B marketing agency team has finished a project to tell them that your direction has changed. Doing this will lead to a strained relationship on both sides, especially if the team is made to feel as if the misdirection was their fault when they didn’t have all of the information they needed. You can’t read their minds, and they can’t read yours!
To avoid roadblocks like this, keep lines of communication open. Formkeep reported that communication, or lack thereof, is one of the biggest problems that arise between clients and agencies. Neither party should leave the other hanging for days if a question needs to be answered. Establish a collaboration process that is clear about roles, responsibilities, and expectations for everyone involved. The agency you decide to work with will likely kick this discussion off, so it’s best to come to that talk prepared.

Reviewing content

As we talk about in our blog post, The Non-Marketer’s Guide to Reviewing and Approving Content Efficiently, one of the biggest reasons a marketing campaign stalls or stagnates is a failure to review and approve content. While it can be daunting to comb through a backlog of content, it’ll be better for your campaign and your relationship with your agency to get through that content quickly. Some tips for doing this, outlined in further detail in the linked blog post include:

  • Set expectations early on
  • Focus on the big picture rather than small details
  • Ask yourself questions about whether the content speaks to your bottom line
  • Look for flow and coherence
  • Double-check that the sources used are credible
  • Make sure there are CTAs

Once all of these boxes are checked, it’ll be much easier to wade through the content and allow your agency marketers to move along with the campaign.

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