If you’re an avid (or even just casual) readers of our blogs, you’ll know we’ve written a lot about outsourcing your sales and marketing. We’ve said why you should do it, when you should do it – even how to best manage and work with your outsourced partner.
But to gain all the advantages that outsourcing can offer and achieve successful marketing outcomes, there’s another crucial step: Picking the right outsourcing partner.
It can be hard handing over such a crucial part of your business to a stranger – especially if you’re totally new to outsourcing. You want to make sure they’re going to do the best for you and your business – but there’s always the risk it won’t work out like that.
Your outsourced agency should be an extension of your own business, and in that way, they should fit similar parameters you set for your own internal staff. But beyond that, there are also a few definite do’s – and one big definite don’t – that should be part of your agency hiring process.
If you don’t know the what, don’t start looking for the who
For most, the search for an outsourced partner starts where any other search would – Google. It’s also common to ask around and get input or referrals from friends, other businesses and professional contacts. These are all great places to start – IF you’ve figured out what you need.
The biggest (and easiest) mistake is to look for “the who” before you’ve determine “the what”.
Let’s look at an example: Say you’re not ranking well in organic search – you’re sitting way back on page four of Google, and you know that no one will find you there. So, that must mean you need a partner that specialises in SEO. You start researching SEO agencies.
But is it really your SEO?
Maybe there’s nothing wrong with your SEO strategy; it’s simply been implemented poorly on your website. That would mean you need help with web development, not SEO.
Or maybe your product or service isn’t even being searched for organically because your audience doesn’t realise it’s a solution option! In that case, SEO is the completely wrong tactic for you.
You can see how easily you can get going in the wrong direction and end up with the wrong partner. Going down this path means that even as hard as they try, or as good as they are, they’ll never be able to deliver what you need.
Four steps for choosing an outsourced agency
Picking the wrong agency, wrong tactic and going down the wrong path for 18 months is a waste of time, money and opportunities. It’s something you want to avoid at all costs. Here are four tips to ensure you get on the right path and stay there:
1. Determine what you need
We went over this above, but it’s so important we’re going to mention it again. It’s important to start with: What do you actually want to achieve, and what do you need to get there? It might be very clear to you; you might already have a marketing plan and can find an agency that can help you execute. On the other hand, you might need a partner who can work with you to determine your plan first and then go from there.
2. Canvas widely
Asking around is a great way to research a potential outsourced partner. But don’t just talk to one or two contacts – get as much input as you can. The more options you have to check out, the more you can ensure your shortlist is detailed and suitable for your needs.
3. Prioritise domain
It’s unlikely you’ll find an outsourced marketing partner that is an expert in your industry (after all, you want them to be experts in sales and marketing first). But you need to make sure that they have some experience, knowledge or capability to work within your domain and understand dynamic, processes and buyers. The wrong approach due to unfamiliarity with B2B marketing or your specific industry can impact your brand and set you back significantly.
4. Go all in
Once you’ve done your research, had some meetings and decided on your preferred partner, don’t hold back. To make this work, you need to be fully committed and give things a couple of months before you start questioning the partnership or the value. Here are some tips on starting off strong and setting yourself up for the best agency relationship.
How to tell if you’ve picked a winner
Value looks different for everyone, but it’s important to be able to judge the value of your investment in outsourced marketing. There are always likely to be dips in performance, returns, and outcomes in marketing. But that’s the same whether you are outsourcing your marketing or running it internally.
So, how can you tell you’ve made the right choice if you can’t solely judge on performance? It’s actually pretty easy. The one way you can tell if you’re onto a winner is if your outsourced partner takes accountability and ownership for outcomes.
Every now again, check in and ask yourself:
- Good or bad, are they owning the outcome and taking responsibility?
- Are they reporting outcomes back to you?
- Are they working with you to use outcomes to drive future marketing direction and decisions?
The sign of a good outsourced agency isn’t necessarily always delivering above-average outcomes, but how they own the outcomes they do achieve and work with you to present a deliverable you’re happy with.
How do we know all this? Well, we’ve been working with B2B businesses as an outsourced marketing partner for over 20 years. Just like you’re looking for the partner that’s the right fit for you, we’ll only take on clients that are the right fit for us. Curious if we could be great together? Contact us to find out.