The aphorism “know thyself” has endured for at least two millennia as a simple but pithy phrase that holds different levels of meaning for those who have encountered it. Whatever the interpretation one prefers, the gist is largely the same—introspection is the key to confident, worthwhile actions.
For a B2B marketer considering a partnership with an inbound marketing agency, the maxim is particularly relevant. Self-assessment is the first crucial step to determining what sort of agency would be a good fit and whether the external help is needed at all.
As such, ask yourself these four questions before making a decision:
1. Are we struggling with B2B marketing output as it is?
This is the question before all the other questions. Answering this in the affirmative is the first sign that it’s high time for your company to bring an external marketing partner on board.
The net expenditure of hiring an agency versus bringing on additional permanent employees tilts the scales towards the former.
If the unceasing tide of articles, videos, emails, social media posts and analysis is threatening to sweep you and your marketing department out to sea, it’s time to call in some help. It’s understandable for most small to mid-sized B2B enterprises to delay this sort of thing between the costs involved and their propensity to shoulder the workload themselves. But, when you break it down, the net expenditure of hiring an agency versus bringing on additional permanent employees tilts the scales towards the former.
Content production is the lifeblood of inbound marketing, and failing to keep a steady pace in your output can severely undermine your efforts and spend. If it’s getting hard to keep up, that’s a good sign that a B2B inbound marketing agency is what your company needs.
2. Is the sales department getting quality leads?
One of the primary benefits of inbound is that it improves your efforts company-wide, not just for marketing or top-of-the-funnel buyers. If the leads that marketing is passing to the sales department are lackluster, the right agency can help you improve the quality of the leads you’re gathering and nurturing through qualified conversions.
B2B inbound specialists like to hone in on identifying a company’s ideal buyers—that is, those most likely to buy based on firmographics and behavior—and work toward gathering leads that fit that profile. A dedicated agency can do a lot to flesh out your content personas and subsequently make your content tailored for their purchasing journey.
3. Can we disseminate our vision clearly?
The previous two questions are about whether or not you should pursue an external inbound partner in marketing. This one, however, is more focused on how you go about finding the right one to partner with.
Part of forging a relationship with an agency is effectively communicating your company’s values and preferred voice to them. As such, you’ll need a clear idea of those things yourself before you can ask your marketing partner to create content and strategies consistent with them on your behalf. Furthermore, you’ll want to look for an agency that not only understands your corporate identity, but also works with you to hone it and accentuate its strengths. Client-agency relations are collaborative these days and not simply sloughing off workloads onto the latter. The earlier on in the process an agency shows that they get the gist of your company identity, the easier that collaboration and mutual growth will be.
4. Do we know where we want to go next?
Lastly, it’s time to formulate the question that you will in turn ask prospective agencies in the getting-to-know-you process: “How can you help us take the next step?”
Self-assessment is the key to improvement, but it doesn’t mean you have to do all the improving yourself.
To ask an outside agency to help you achieve your marketing goals first entails clearly defining and enumerating those goals. Bring together your company’s executives and hammer out a thorough set of aims—both near-term and for the long haul—and benchmarks to hit, the more specific the better. Then use those metrics to ask prospective agencies how they can help you reach them. If you have a clear idea of what you want and where you want to go, the easier you can determine whether a partnership with an agency will bear fruit.
Self-assessment is the key to improvement, but it doesn’t mean you have to do all the improving yourself. The better you “know thyself”—your marketing shortcomings, aspirations, and standards—the more effective your hunt for a long-term B2B marketing partner will be. Finding an agency that fits your philosophy can be the toughest part and once that is accomplished, your inbound campaigns and strategy has a much better chance to flourish.