The importance of working with the right B2B agency cannot be understated. If you live in the Austin area, there are hundreds of agencies to choose from. Literally.
It may be tempting to think that most agencies operate similarly and your results with each will be about the same. But, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. How should you know which B2B agency is right for you? Consider these three qualities:
This quality seems obvious, we know. Of course you want the people you pay to have a brain. Still, it’s important to look beyond flashy exteriors and lofty promises to discover how your chosen agency operates.
A competent B2B agency will begin any new client relationship by listening to their clients problems and researching their customers pain points.
According to survey from LinkedIn, B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a company who can provide new insights about their business. If your chosen agency doesn’t have a thorough understanding of your industry, how can you expect them to develop marketing material that speaks to your audience?
Once an agency understands your customers and their pain points, they should be able to educate you on best targeting practices. Since each business will have it’s own circumstances to consider, it’s imperative that an agency can determine creative solutions. Perhaps you are looking for your target audience in the wrong places, or maybe you have misidentified your target audience altogether. The agency should be considering problems like this from all angles. Once they’ve identified the core problem, their solutions should be personalized to your situation. Some audiences are more receptive to certain types of marketing, for example, so their ideas should go beyond “Let’s move adspend to PPC,” or “Let’s start a Twitter.”
Competence and knowledge are one in the same. Agencies not only need to have a knowledge of the industry, but they need to be able to prove it. When prospects contact an agency, it’s because they are ready to talk about their businesses, not the agency, and if agencies can’t do this in a constructive and candid way, they may not possess this quality.
Following competency, the most important quality in a B2B agency is creativity. This quality is not too difficult to identify — just begin by looking at the happiness of agency employees.
To be at their highest creative ability, a B2B agency need to cultivate an atmosphere of job satisfaction and happiness. According to a study produced by Social Market Foundation, happiness in the workplace increases productivity by an average of 12%, and in some cases, by as much as 20%.
In other words, if employees aren’t happy, their creativity will be stunted. That means they won’t perform best for your company.
Naturally, management will be the highest determining factor on employee happiness. Leonard Glick, Professor of management and organizational development at Boston’s Northeastern University, explains that the leadership needs to facilitate an open relationship where they communicate and keep their employees informed. If there is a lack of communication, not only will the employees feel unimportant, it will slow down the creative process and negatively impact clients.
Creative agencies will have a culture of experimentation and curiosity. Sometimes, agencies may find a formula that works well, and they stick with it, effectively barring exploration outside of this comfort zone. Glick explains that the danger in this is that employees will grow bored and burnt out doing the same thing. He recommends giving them new responsibilities to keep them engaged and challenged to devise creative solutions.
Agencies with a healthy creative atmospheres didn’t achieve that by giving their workers huge pay checks or tons of special perks (Think beer o’clock fridays or foosball tables). It’s about a collaborative environment where risks are taken, and the employees have a space to explore and innovate. If no one is smiling, then the agency will likely not deliver the creative results you desire as a client.
Agencies who can engender a prosperous agency-client relationship are arguably more valuable than even the most competent and creative agencies.
A good agency-client relationship is fostered through constant back-and-forth communication from both parties. For this to happen, your chosen B2B agency should establish a level of trust and policy with you early in the relationship.
There is a right way to do this, and then there is the wrong way.
According to Emily Belden from The Layout, a successful relationship is one with trust. You should feel that your chosen agency is accessible to you and that your feedback is received and considered. Once you feel that you can trust your project in an agency’s capable hands, you won’t feel like you need to micromanage them. Instead, you will begin to see them as a partner. On the agency side, you should feel that their top priority is keeping in contact with you and reporting updates and milestones.
Test your potential agency partners’ accessibility: tweet them. 70% of B2B buyers use social media as a research tool, so it’s a smart idea to test how well an agency can respond on social media.
It is the job of every B2B agency to make you, as the client, feel valued. They should care as much about your business as you do and be reliable and accessible sources of information and insights. Before your first meeting, you should already have the sense that they are invested in your success.
All or Nothing
These qualities are all interrelated. Cultivating and maintaining a good relationship requires competency. In order to trust an agency, they need to first prove they are knowledgeable and experienced. Creativity depends on the agency to listen and accept feedback from clients which cannot occur if there is poor client-agency communication. Competency depends on creativity for innovation and problem-solving.
This is an all or nothing scenario. If a B2B agency is missing one of these qualities, they might as well be missing them all. When you’re looking for the right people to help realize your vision and propel your business forward, just ask yourself: are they competent? Do they have happy employees? Are they accessible? If the answer to even one of these questions isn’t a resounding yes, they may not be right for you.
If you’re looking for a creative B2B agency to help out your business, Brandcave might be what you’re looking for. Decide for yourself if we meet these standards – give us a call.