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B2B marketing agencies: how to find the right one

02.09.2022

So, you’re searching for B2B marketing agencies? We want to help. It’s good to know not only what to look for, but what you want out of a marketing commitment.   

We understand the importance of establishing a good partnership, so we’ve made this blog to help you start things off the right way.   

What should I look for when choosing between B2B marketing agencies?  

Every B2B agency offering is (or should be) different. You can easily look at the quantitative elements, such as the services they provide or their location, but a good partnership represents much more than these qualities. 

Like any relationship, the one you build with your marketing agency should be sustainable. It should be positive, collaborative, last long term, and have you both feeling good about the outcomes.  

Marketing is essential to your brand. And the heart of your brand is essential to maintain. That’s why, you should be able to treat your marketing agency as an extension of your own. Ideally you can establish a complementary dynamic – not one that just feels like a cold transaction. 

Trust us, you’ll see much better results and the process will be much smoother! 

So to find this perfect marketing agency, you shoud consider the following: 

Approach  

Different B2B marketing agencies have different styles and approaches. Some focus on digital, some take an inbound marketing approach, and others are turning to Web3. Choosing the agency with the right approach can make a big difference to how well they meet your objectives.   

Also think about their qualitative approach. How do they present themselves online? What does their brand personality feel like? Is it compatible with your own? 

At the end of the day, if you hate aggressive sales tactics or you prioritise a customer-first approach, then your chosen marketing agency should reflect this view. 

RELATED: Why taking an agile approach in marketing succeeds  

Expertise   

The right expertise is fundamental! This covers two factors: marketing expertise and vertical knowledge. It’s obviously important that a marketing agency has the skills you need – but they should also have a good understanding of your market.  

Does a marketing agency work in your sector? Do they know your audience? These are important questions to ask.  

This makes a big difference to your relationship and dynamic. If they know their stuff, you’ll feel more confident they can authentically represent who you are as a brand. A marketing agency that understands the minutiae of why your offering is so special, why X is better than Y, can build a more supportive and genuine relationship with you – and with your audience. 

Values   

Although values are a soft trait, they are increasingly important to a lot of employees. Whether your values match up is a good indicator of whether your relationships will be a good one. 

This tells you what kind of things an agency will prioritise, their culture, and what the team are like. Finding an agency that aligns with your personal values means you’ll more likely be on the same page in terms of professional values, too.  

The better aligned your values, the longer your relationship will last. If you find you disagree on fundamental values, this could cause friction, leading to a relationship that ends prematurely or one that doesn’t quite get the outcomes you want. 

Trust  

Values lead nicely into trust. An agency should be credible and trustworthy, demonstrated by their digital presence or credentials. But you should also be able to put your trust in them.  

Marketing inherently requires leaps of faith and risk taking. The rules are constantly changing – so having the freedom to make creative choices or push the boundaries is really important. Being able to trust your marketing team is essential to their, and your, success. You won’t have a sustainable relationship unless you do.  

Trust from both sides contributes to a more harmonious relationship. When this happens, often the best work is then produced, too.  

The value of a marketing agency

Read this case study with Riversafe, cybersecurity experts, to see what value a marketing agency can bring in terms of resource, skills, and strategic perspective.

“EV feels more like a trusted, in-house team without the limitations of a standard agency. They deliver an end-to-end marketing service, with everything we need – from strategy to design to account management – and their strategic focus always ensures they get results.”

Agency case study

What skills should B2B marketing agencies have?  

Marketing strategy  

Marketing strategists are concerned with the big picture. This may be your creative director, an account strategist, or chief strategy officer.  

Strategy roles determine the overarching marketing direction for the brand. This includes commercial objectives, core strategic messaging, positioning, audiences, and so on. This is the cornerstone of any brand. 

The strategic infrastructure they create is what establishes your unique value. Without it, a brand is just a brand – there’s no niche to differentiate yourself from the competition.  

Account management  

Account managers are the ones that keep the wheels turning. They create marketing plans, making sure all activity is on the right trajectory. This includes managing their team’s resource, reporting on performance, evaluating objectives and managing budgets – plus much more!   

They’re also the client’s point of contact for everything they need. They are dedicated to customer experience (more so than other members). A good account manager will always keep you in the loop and strive to give their clients the best outcomes.  

We often joke that account managers don’t do anything (tongue in cheek of course). But the truth is, everything falls apart without them. Once their perspective is lost, things can easily stray off course from the strategy or objectives. When this happens, even the best marketing materials quickly loses their impact. 

Digital marketing services  

Digital teams manage digital projects; some roles include example digital executives, campaign managers, or traffic managers. They will likely be heavily involved in web development or digital marketing campaigns.   

Although these things involve multiple skills, digital experts are responsible for building the behind-the-scenes foundations. They make it all function smoothly, work on lead generation, and optimise results. For example, creating audiences and workflows for LinkedIn campaigns. Or managing the deployment of web pages.  

This is a hugely valuable skill in the age of hyper competition. All too often marketing agencies or companies create great material, but no-one sees it. Digital teams are the ones who are changing this. They ensure the work is seen by the right people, at the right time, and will analyse assets to ensure they’re delivering the right message – the three fundamentals of marketing.  

Content marketing  

Content marketers could range from copywriters to content writers (there is a difference!). One specialises in longform writing, while the other has skills in short form copy, for example articles vs ads.  

Content marketers are the ones who tell your brand narrative across blogs, infographics, brochures, guides, email marketing and more. Their job is to skilfully get across your brand messaging in a way that resonates with your audience.  

Likely, they’ll be closely familiar with your target audience research and buyer personas. The more they know, the better they can address key pain points and start to build brand trust.  

Read more: The skills your content marketing team needs  

SEO  

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is closely connected with content, as but it really deserves an independent expert or team. Often it comes in the form of SEO content – such as SEO-optimised blogs, pillar pages and cluster blogs. But it also refers to lots of digital work. That’s why sometimes content marketers will be in charge of SEO, and other times it will be an SEO-specific team. 

Read this HubSpot blog to learn more about what these are! 

If ranking, increasing brand authority, and improving search traffic is important to you – you should look for an agency with an SEO team. SEO specialists will be involved in organic content and paid media, like ads or PPC, as well as technical SEO.  

Social media  

Contrary to popular belief, social media skills are not an extension of content writing. Social media teams need to have very specific expertise in increasing social reach, followers and engagement. They’ll have a deep understanding of what does and doesn’t perform well on socials.  

They’ll often work closely with digital teams to optimise campaigns as well as running regular activity on multiple channels. Plus, managing social takes a whole lot of work! To do well, you need to be establishing very regularly activity – that’s why a social experts is a valuable asset. 

Design and branding   

Everyone knows the power of a good brand image. There are those you love and those you don’t. Take Kia’s new rebrand as an example. It’s completely changed people’s perception of the company. An agency’s design team may work on everything from logo creation to website design to social imagery.  

A good design team knows more than just how to make things look good. They’ll understand how to translate your positioning and strategy into a visual brand story. This means being consistent, maintaining a high standard of quality, and always understanding how to enhance the core message of any asset.  

How to choose B2B marketing agencies  

As said above, it’s really important to think about the quality of your relationship as well as the quality of an agency’s service when choose the right one. 

To crudely summarise – a good B2B marketing agency is one that meets your needs. But they should do so in the best way possible, making it easy and painless as possible. You want the most sustainable relationships possible. The longer and closer your relationship is, the better the outputs will be. 

Alongside all the qualitative element’s we’ve discussed you can think about the following when choosing a partner:  

  • Define your objectives within your team 
  • Do a skills gap analysis internally   
  • Ask for recommendations in your industry  
  • Choose agencies that work in your sector  
  • Look at any existing case studies from the marketing agency 
  • Look at their client portfolio  
  • Ask what size of organisation the agency usually works with  
  • Ask for specific examples of their work  
  • Meet the agency team in person  

Full service B2B marketing agency   

EV is an integrated marketing agency that works like your internal team. Our teams have all the skills above, giving you the power of an entire marketing department. 

Our approach is a sustainable one. Sustainable marketing to us means prioritising lasting results over fast ones, putting good practices before quick wins, and providing genuine value in everything we do.   

You can learn more about our team and what we do here