Hiring an agency to help you with your marketing is one half hiring a new employee and one half hiring a contractor to build your house. On one hand, you want to know that your new collaborators have the skills required to successfully perform inbound marketing practices. On the other, your new agency must fulfill a contract stipulating exactly what will be done and how much it will cost.
Since a significant portion of your marketing budget will be spent on the agency, you want to do your homework and due diligence when choosing and hiring the best agency for your needs.
Selecting an Inbound Marketing Agency
Before starting your search, define your strategy and needs so you can focus on agencies with those skills. If you use HubSpot for your CMS look for a HubSpot Certified agency. If you have particular needs for video or design, create a list of agencies specializing in those practices.
A good inbound marketing agency should have at its foundation these skills:
Writing, writing, and more writing. Content production is the major player for inbound marketing. Weak writing skills translate into weak marketing performance.
Comprehension/Industry Understanding. Some agencies specialize in a particular industry while others provide services to a larger clientele. The agency you work with must be able to learn and understand your business in order to effectively promote it.
Analytics. Great inbound marketing is based on the use of appropriate analytics to develop and maintain content and campaigns. Without measurement you cannot determine ROI or the value of the agency’s work to your company.
Once you have a shortlist you will need to meet with the candidates to better determine the extent of their services and to check cultural and personality fit. You will have extensive interaction with the agency staff; a good rapport and similar working habits is essential.
Use open ended questions and ask for work examples. Ask the agency to outline a basic inbound marketing campaign and compare it to your research. Above all, listen and observe. Judge their confidence level and depth of knowledge of both marketing and your industry. See how (or if) they use data and analytics in their work. Use tone of voice and body language to help you determine comfort level.
As mentioned above, this is a lot like hiring a new employee.
Purpose of Initial Meeting
Once you have selected an agency, your initial meeting will solidify the details of your engagement. Before you meet with your new collaborators put together a final strategy definition and a portfolio of existing assets they can use to jump start their work.
White papers, case studies, slideshows, other content
Trials and campaigns
Videos and images
The agency should set aside plenty of time to go over the contract and set initial objectives. The ideal agency will work with you to define SMART marketing goals that will provide a map and help develop the correct tools to implement your marketing plan.
During this meeting you will communicate who your technical and central contacts will be within your company, how much your company will contribute to content creation, and your baselines, benchmarks, and expectations.
Finally, the contract must detail all deliverables, deadlines, and dollar amounts. Don’t rush through terms and conditions; you must both be comfortable with the contract. Allow plenty of time for questions.
An inbound marketing agency must meet your needs and expectations while being compatible with your way of doing business. These recommendations will put you on the road to the right relationship.