Marketing plays a critical role in creating brand awareness and generating leads for your business. The best marketing strategies include a mixture of PR and paid ads to help get your brand in front of people, social media to build and engage your audience, and owned media (your website, blogs, case studies, and more) to help prospects convert.
This means, outside of your CMO, you need a public relations specialist, a paid ads expert, a social media manager, a content strategist, an SEO specialist, and a data analyst—if you want to perform a holistic marketing strategy that is sure to drive lead generation and accelerate the sales cycle.
When your company is trying to work solely in-house, your internal team—especially a team that doesn’t have all of the resources listed above—can be stretched too thin. Like a rubber band, there’s only so much your team can take before snapping under all of the operational pressures.
That doesn’t sound like something you want for your business.
It’s time to consider outsourcing.
Outsourcing your marketing is a big decision that requires a financial commitment and an agreeable working relationship between you and your agency of choice. The option you select will be determined by your financial situation and your current in-house team’s experience, capacity, and skillsets. We’re not saying you have to offload all of your marketing endeavors to someone else, but bringing in experts to fill in the roles you don’t have on staff can free up your in-house team, enabling them to do their best work in their areas of expertise.
If you’re ready to look into outsourcing your marketing and/or PR, here are some things you can do to make sure you sign with the right team.
Things to Consider Before Outsourcing Your Marketing and PR
Review Their Industry Experience
You wouldn’t hire a chef to give you a haircut, so don’t hire a marketing and PR agency that specializes in B2C for your B2B business.
It sounds like common sense, but it’s a common mistake that some of our clients have lamented about before signing with us.
For marketing to be effective, it needs to be innovative, engaging, and also sound like it’s coming from you—not a third party. It’s always a good idea to go for agencies that are familiar with your industry and know how to talk to your audience.
If you’re a B2B business, you need an agency that specializes in B2B or at least has a working knowledge of industry trends. If you’re in tech or in a highly technical industry, you need an agency that can speak your language and portray you as a leader in your field. It’s important to remain authentic even if the work is coming from a different source—your brand’s voice should still shine through.
When speaking with an agency, ask about their other clients—do they have any in your industry? Do they serve a similar audience? Don’t be afraid to ask for case studies and examples of their work.
And this should go without saying, but make sure they are staffed with the experts you need for your business. Don’t hire an agency for SEO if they don’t have a well-staffed team of B2B SEO experts that can talk you through their credentials and strategies. If you are looking for someone to blog on your website, make sure the marketing agency has writers on staff who can craft a steady cadence of well-written blog content. And—obviously—don’t hire an agency for PR unless they have a staff of well-connected PR professionals.
Ask to meet prospective agencies’ management teams, specialists in the services you are looking to contract, and anyone else you expect to interface with during your working relationship. Learn more about them, their qualifications, and their expertise to ensure that they can execute your business projects the way you envision.
Assess The Technical Expertise
The right outsourcing team will feel like an extension of your own—experts who complement your brand and know how to craft the right messaging for each of your products and services.
Conducting a thorough check of technical competency and market know-how is essential to understanding the processes your potential outsourcing agency follows and its methods for managing projects, tracking results, and resolving issues. Marketing and PR should be their core business model, not just one of the services they offer.
Your future agency should have the experience needed to solve your most complex challenges. Evaluate their skill sets, use of the latest technology, technical expertise, and passion for your project. Make sure that they have each of these before you sign any paperwork.
Analyze Their Dedication to Their Craft
Your business cannot afford to compromise quality when outsourcing tasks. If your initiatives are executed in a heavy-handed and error-riddled fashion, then what’s the point of outsourcing to begin with?
You need a team with the right skills, experience, and dedication—and oftentimes, that means strong leadership, senior team members, and roles that are intended to proactively identify concerns, challenges, delays, or mistakes. Beyond the obvious marketing competencies—like copywriting, graphic design, and SEO—the agency you consider should also possess expertise in areas like project management and quality assurance. Having a marketing project manager or an account executive to head up your outsourced marketing initiatives will ensure that everything runs smoothly and on time.
Do not hire a marketing and PR agency unless you are 100% convinced that your business goals align with their track record and reputation. You don’t want to be stuck working with a partner that never makes deadlines or is plagued by typos.
Getting to the Bullets Points & Blessings Level
You’ve picked a legitimate agency you can trust. So what’s the next step? Now it’s time to lay the groundwork so your marketing agency can understand your brand inside and out. This means onboarding, researching, getting to know the business, and the whole nine yards to ensure everyone is on the same page for future work. By understanding your industry, competitors, services, and company culture, they’ll be able to showcase your brand in an authentic and engaging way.
At Zen, we make it our goal to get to the Bullet Points & Blessings level, but what does that mean for you? Well, let us explain.
Bullet Points & Blessings was a term created by our CEO and founder, Shama Hyder. It means: “Give us a few bullet points on XYZ topic and your blessing to run with them, and we’ll get to work.”
Once we’ve completed our full onboarding process, you will have transferred enough information to our team that we can do the heavy lifting. We can act as a true extension of your internal team, and with a few bullet points, we can take off, creating content, finding trends to comment on, and building momentum for your brand.
If you’re considering an agency that doesn’t have a thorough onboarding process—that’s a red flag.
Where YOU Come In
There’s a final step to complete before you can sit back and let your marketing agency do its thing.
To create the best results, you must establish an elite channel of communication between your brand and your marketing agency partners. When you work with an outsourced agency, the success of your business is in their hands, along with confidential information and ideas. This will be a significant and potentially long-term relationship, so make sure you feel comfortable with their communication methods. You require a team that is responsive and responsible, one that facilitates timely communication, honest feedback, and equal exchange of information—and vice versa.
It is important to be honest about your expectations during this partnership—it’s the only way to obtain the results you want. Set up KPIs with your agency, so you have clear and shared measurements of success, keep your team up-to-date on anything and everything that may be newsworthy, and communicate your budget and how much you’re willing to invest.
Bottom line: When searching for someone to take on your B2B marketing and/or PR needs, you need an agency that can go above and beyond for you.
Choosing the right marketing partner can be a challenge, and many brands make the mistake of going with the cheapest option—rather than the option that will give the best ROI (they are very often not the same agency). When determining which agency will best suit your needs, think about what they can do for you today, and how their actions today will impact your brand long-term.
When done correctly, outsourcing your marketing can take your business to the next level.
If you’re still searching for the right marketing agency, let’s talk.
We’re always happy to help.