“People get hired for what they know, and fired for who they are.” That maxim for making the right employee hiring decisions holds true for making a good decision when hiring a b-to-b marketing agency today.
So, you want to do more than just look at pretty sample websites and award-winning creative to know whether your agency will be a lasting fit for you. Our average client relationship extends 9.5 years, a mark of performance we’re very proud of in an industry characterized by a 2-3 year average. So, we created a list of how our account managers should perform for clients; here’s how that translates into 12 questions you should ask, our “Dirty Dozen,” when considering who will make a “rock star” marketing partner:
- Show me analytics. It’s not about awards for them, it’s about results for you. Have them show you the dashboards they run for their clients, and how they’ve improved performance over time. (If they don’t have dashboards, they don’t have much to offer.)
- Ask about new ideas. Are they a source of new concepts and suggestions, or do they wait to take direction?
- Who’s driving the program, you or the agency? Where’s the responsibility lie for budgets and timelines? With us, once we agree with clients on the budget and project scope at the beginning of the year, it’s our program to run. We’re not waiting for the phone to ring to remind us a show is coming up and that it’s time to begin planning.
- Do their account people and writers understand their clients’ technologies? Can they write about what you do from a blank piece of paper, or are they only able to do a grammar edit on a first draft you have to produce? (And what client has time for that?)
- Will they disagree with you? Do they have a track record for pushing their ideas, or following whichever way the wind is blowing?
- Are they a source of best practices?
- What keeps them up at night? Do they worry about their clients?
- What stories do they have about tying leads to closed orders and revenue?
- What software and technology do they bring to their programs. It seems that every corner of marketing today is enabled with some aspect of technology. How comfortable and progressive are they with marketing tech?
- What have they learned from their failures?
- Do they really understand the nuances of b-to-b lead generation, or are they a mix of consumer and b-to-b?
- What are their values? Do they align with your company’s? Are they committed to relationships, integrity, their own employee satisfaction? Values are seen by many as “soft” or secondary. But inconsistency in values typically leads to short-term relationships.
Written by Joel Goldstein:
Goldstein Group agency president who builds “Measurably Better Marketing” programs that create WOW experiences for clients.