Take the average of the people closest to you for a glimpse of where you’re headed, as the adage goes. Or in other words, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” Whether this is accurate for relationships is debatable, but there’s a certain truth to it when you’re working with an inbound marketing agency.
The partnership you build with your inbound marketing agency sets the foundation for so many parts of your business and shapes your path forward. Everything from how your brand is perceived to the value you provide for your audience to the sales you close is impacted by this relationship.
The right fit gives you a team that works with you on insightful strategies and helps execute forward-thinking marketing solutions to propel you forward. On the other hand, the wrong fit can leave you bogged down – attempting the same things over and over again, with little results to show for the effort.
So, how do you know which of these situations you’re in? It’s easy to recognize success, but it can be challenging to recognize when something isn’t working until it’s too late. If you’re running into any of these issues, it may be a red flag that it’s time to find a new marketing agency.
Great communication is where inbound marketing agencies excel. And that should hold true whether the agency is supporting your external messaging or communicating with you.
Regular meetings and reports are important opportunities to share updates, but all the meetings in the world won’t overcome poor communication. When you’re working together, there shouldn’t be any surprises about expectations, goals or what’s coming down the pipeline.
Is the agency easy to contact outside of meetings? Do they reply in a timely manner? Is there one main point of contact or do you find yourself going through a list of different names trying to find answers?
And, of course, listening is the other half of effective communication. Does your agency ask the right questions to understand your goals? How do they respond to feedback? Is your input included?
Some of the best things in life take time to see a payoff – as any wine or cheese lover can attest to – but there should always be an ultimate goal in mind. And, perhaps more importantly, that goal needs to be realistic and broken down in a measurable step-by-step process.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re trying to rank on the first page of Google. SEO gains aren’t an overnight success by any means. But you should have a solid understanding of the agency’s SEO strategy and how they are measuring progress over time. Results in inbound marketing often take time to play out and can require patience, but you shouldn’t be left wondering what your agency's game plan is, or if you’re heading in the right direction.
There may be a few different reasons why your expectations – and your KPIs – aren’t being met.
It could be that the agency’s promises were overly ambitious for the agreed-upon timeline. Or something isn’t working with the current marketing strategy or tactics. Or there was some kind of miscommunication about expectations.
Whatever the reason, your inbound marketing agency should be working with you on realistic goals and timelines. And if something isn’t turning out as expected, there’s a conversation to be had about what can be tweaked and why. Honesty and transparency are musts at all times, whether the results you’re seeing are through the roof or falling flat.
Great marketing starts with a solid understanding of the audience you’re speaking to. Their pain points, their priorities and where they’re at in the buying process.
That’s why it’s so important for the agency you work with to start with a thorough discovery process. Creating buyer personas through a mix of research and interviews, for example, gives a valuable understanding of customer behavior. This, of course, leads to more relevant content and tailored messaging that will better resonate with your intended audience.
Likewise, it takes insight into your business and the wider industry landscape to be able to effectively communicate what makes you stand apart. Your brand identity and brand story shouldn’t be an afterthought.
If the agency’s work consistently seems off-brand or overly generic, it may be a sign that they haven’t devoted enough energy to fully understand you and your customers.
Your agency is an extension of your team, providing subject matter experts who bolster your inbound and digital marketing efforts and provide insightful guidance.
But rarely is an agency a complete replacement for in-house marketing teams. So, it’s important that your agency is sitting down to discuss strategy with you and seeking your input.
Without collaboration, it’s that much harder to ensure that your overall business goals are being accounted for and included. Even the best agencies won’t know what’s happening in the background if it’s not communicated, but that takes intentional effort from both parties.
If it feels like you and your agency are siloed, working towards separate goals or duplicating efforts, that’s a strong indication that something’s out of sync in the relationship.
Storytelling is at the heart of inbound marketing.
We all crave a good story that teaches us something new, tweaks our perspective or pulls out an emotional response. Your marketing agency should be helping you reach your audience on a human level with compelling digital storytelling and content marketing.
Take stock of the content and messages you’re putting out across channels – emails, ads, social media, blog posts, videos: the whole gamut. Is it fresh and relevant, providing real value to your audience? Or are you simply saying the same thing as everyone else in your industry?
The problems with uninspiring storytelling carry over to how reports and metrics are presented during your update meetings. The numbers and data give an indication of what’s going on, but there should be an overall narrative explaining what it means and why it matters.
If you’re experiencing any of these red flags with your current agency – or simply looking to boost your marketing efforts with renewed energy – the Kuno Creative team can help.
As a digital marketing agency that brings decades of experience to the table, we know what it takes to help clients achieve their goals and produce resources. We’ve helped companies across industries develop their brand strategy, tell compelling stories with valuable content, design websites that convert and see success with paid advertising.
Are you thinking about making a move? Reach out to us today to see how we can help you with your inbound marketing needs.
This is Part I of our series about working with a marketing agency. In Part II, we’ll look at how to streamline the transition to a new inbound marketing agency.