January 20, 2021

9 Important Questions to Ask When Hiring a B2B Marketing Agency

by Melissa Caffrey

Successful B2B marketing starts with strategy and ends with execution. Well, it really ends with post-execution analysis and the next round of planning, but you get what we’re saying. If that sounds obvious, that’s because it is—what’s less obvious is how exactly to get from Point A to Point B. There are many moving parts in the B2B marketing world, with a lot of brainstorming, research, and strategy implementation to be done, which is why hiring an external marketing agency to help is a must. 

The Value of an External B2B Marketing Company

Don’t just take our word for it, though. Here are 3 B2B marketing experts we’ve interviewed on Renegade Thinkers Unite about why hiring an outside agency is essential: 

  • Matt Kopp (CMO, UTAK): “We knew we had to have a good partner, someone we could work with to really help us focus and really think about the storytelling and the strategy behind marketing.”  
  • Paz Macdonald (CMO, Software AG): “I really recommend, if you’re doing anything like this, to strip the emotion away, to get an outside view, and get an agency to help you.” 
  • Rich Kylberg (VP MarketingArrow): “You’ve got a very little chance of figuring something like this out with a partner, and you’ve got no chance of doing it without one.” 

B2B agencies can help focus your higher-level marketing strategy, discover remarkable opportunities you may not have noticed, and push your marketing initiatives to the next level. It’s a fiscally smart business decision as wellhiring a B2B marketing agency tends to cost less than bringing on a robust in-house marketing team.   

Of course, we’re biased, but as one of DesignRush’s top B2B Digital Marketing Agencies AND Top Digital Marketing Agencies in New York for January 2021, Renegade has deep insight into what makes a B2B business/B2B agency partnership worthwhile for both parties. So, without further ado, here are some questions to ask and things consider when selecting a marketing agency partner. 

Questions to Ask When Looking for Your B2B Marketing Agency 

  1. What’s their brand purpose?

Great businesses all have one thing in common: a brand purpose that informs business strategy and unites employees, customers, and prospects. As Latané Conant shared in her episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite“Brand trumps demand every single time. An investment in brand pays off over and over and over again, has a multiplicative effect throughout the entire funnel, and lasts a lot longer. 

The marketing agency you choose should demonstrate the value of brand purpose through its own work, from their messaging to the way they answer a query email. An agency can’t help you if they’re not clear on their own “why” first.  

  1. Do they have the expertise to solve your particular challenge? 

Before looking for a B2B agency, brands have to establish what they’re trying to solve for in the first place. You’re not going to hire an ad agency when you’re looking for SEO help, and vice versa. We recommend making a list of your top priorities over the next 12 months and then assessing companies based on what services they offer to meet your specific needs.  

  1. What have they done for other relevant B2B companies? 

Look for a B2B agency with a proven track record at not just driving strategy but also executing effective campaigns. A strategy without great execution is a yacht without an engineWhile this work need not be in your specific category (sometimes it helps to get the outsider perspective), it should feel relatable. To start, we recommend checking out the agency’s case study history, especially those case studies that solve the same challenges you’re facing.  

  1. How many of their recent clients will provide references?  

As with the last point, B2B marketing agencies with clients that are ready and willing to provide a reference is a great sign you’ve found a valuable partner. On top of reviewing case studies, scan the agency website and other online review sites for testimonials. Better yet, see if there are opportunities to speak with recent client directly 

  1. Who at the agency will work on your business Will you get the A-team?  

We’ve already covered the value of working with a boutique B2B marketing agency—a small team of dynamic experts means you get a closer view of the creative process and a higher level of attention and care. No matter which size agency you decide to go with, however, be clear on who will be taking care of your account and what their level of expertise is before agreeing to work together.  

  1. What is their process, and is there anything unique about it? 

Revenue-generating marketing requires creative thinking, so it’s important to find a marketing agency with a process that is rooted in tried-and-true marketing practices but also bold and unique. Remember, a B2B marketing agency is not just there to develop successful campaigns, it also plays a crucial role in pushing B2B brands to truly differentiate themselves.  

  1. Who do they compete with and what makes them stand out?

To better understand any business, it helps to check out the competition. Not only will this help you see what makes the agency special itself, but it also shows you, again, the marketing agency’s keen understanding of the power of brand. If they can stand out in their messaging and work, then they can help you grow into a notable industry leader in your own competitive arena 

  1. How do they measure the success of an engagement?

Which marketing metrics matter depends on a lot of different factors. CMOs need to be able to make informed decisions based on internal marketing metrics AND must be able to measure those things which are most important to the rest of the C-Suite. Check how a B2B marketing agency measures the success of an engagement to ensure you are aligned on what metricmatter. 

  1. What won’t they do during a typical engagement?

Agencies are inclined to say they can do everything. When you hear that, run!  Ask your prospective agency what they won’t do and why during the various stages of engagements. Sometimes this will uncover shortcuts that you may or may not be willing to take.  Also, it gives you a chance to understand what the agency is really good at and how they fill in the gaps with or without partners.