The Manufacturer-Marketer Partnership Requires Work: Set Expectations so it Will Work Well
As a manufacturer, your B2B marketing agency is probably your first line of defense in the competition of the open market, but a mismatch in goals or motivations could short-circuit your future success. At Grant Marketing, we know how important it is for you to fortify the presence of your product or service on the market for continual growth and profit.
Ask these five questions to make sure you and your B2B marketing agency are both on the same page:
- What should I expect to contribute to the partnership?
How involved would you like to be–rather, can be–with your marketing agency? Defining how much or how little input is ideal for you will help shape their expectations. Whether it's scheduling milestone conference calls or weekly report emails on progress, clearly communicating your ideal role in the partnership will start both of you off on the right foot. Additionally, be sure to define who does or does not hold approval and veto powers for ideas, expenditures, and so on, as miscommunication in these sectors can completely derail a project.
- How often will I need to be available?
Knowing how often your agency needs you to answer calls or emails will help prevent unpleasant surprises and time drains in your busy schedule. As an inbound marketing agency, we often encounter situations where we are awaiting feedback on numerous action items but some manufacturers find it difficult to keep up with the pace at which we are churning out content. And we realize that many of our clients are busy running the business, so setting up a process or having a person internally who can administrate or be the liaison for communicating among all parties can be helpful.
If a process isn’t created, you stand the risk of being more involved than you'd like to be. Or maybe you’d like to be, but need to minimize valuable time away from the daily responsibilities of manufacturing operations. Ensure that your marketing content review cycle isn't overly long or complicated; you ultimately decided to work with a B2B marketer to save time and effort, after all.
- Who will be doing this work?
Agencies routinely use out-of-house freelancers for tasks such as web-design or search engine optimization. If the thought of outsourcing makes you uncomfortable, have a candid conversation with your B2B marketing partner to understand why they are choosing to outsource certain tasks. Clearly expressing your preference for outsourced-only or in-house-only marketing work whenever possible can help your marketing agency allocate tasks.
- When can I expect results?
You probably want to hear “right away,” but understand that it might not be true for all aspects of your marketing plan. For instance, fixing some broken links will show an instant improvement in your website performance, but putting out one blog isn’t going to make you Google’s pet overnight. So make sure to ask your B2B marketing agency for exact dates or time periods when you're looking for results. Ask about time ranges for similar projects' results if they hem and haw; you should be able to plan other manufacturing or marketing events based on these windows.
To be clear—a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy is a long game that requires perpetual contribution on both sides of the partnership. Ultimately, it pays off, but it does take time to build up content and move the needle. You might start to see numbers improve right away with the new changes to your website and increased blogging efforts, but it can take a year and a half to two years to see a sustained and consistent growth with a program that is administered properly.
- Do our definitions of key performance indicators match up?
Metrics only matter if they're being gathered and compared in a logical way. Make sure that when you say "X," your B2B marketing agency understands "X" to be the same measure that you do.
Almost all our current clients approached us so that we could help them generate more “leads” by way of inbound marketing. Despite being a specific marketing term, a “lead” could have varied degrees of interpretations. Marketing agencies generally talk in terms of “marketing qualified leads,” but you might be setting yourself up for disappointing if you are expecting a snowfall of “sales qualified leads.”
Unless you have that agreement, your measurements for success and improvement will be skewed or flat-out wrong.
Use these five key questions to align your goals with that of your agency, as well as to filter potential partners when "shopping around" for a B2B marketing partner. You'll see better results and experience less costly disappointment in the long run.
Want to know where your marketing strategy is currently at, as opposed to where it really should be? Download our Inbound Marketing Checklist to see how you’re doing!