Engaging an outside agency or consultancy tends to be driven by a lack of resources or a need for specialist skills. As we saw in recent research we conducted with Sapio Research, 82% of the business leaders that we surveyed in the IT, manufacturing and engineering spaces had outsourced some of their marketing over the last 3 years. Marketing outsourcing is clearly needed as a fallback solution where marketing headcount and skills gaps exist especially in areas such as website development and digital marketing, for example.
But, outsourcing to a B2B marketing consultancy can also help in more strategic and forward thinking situations where you are evaluating areas such as business growth. Engaging the help of an outside B2B marketing consultant to help develop your strategy can provide considerable value to the business. They can provide a different perspective on your marketing plan, identify any potential gaps in your strategy, and also help with planning the marketing activities needed to achieve business success.
If you have ever found yourself asking questions like: ‘I need more leads’, ‘I need to drive more investment’ or ‘I need to refocus my marketing budget’ then hiring an external B2B marketing consultant or agency might also give you the outside perspective that you need. Continue reading as we discuss the areas a marketing agency can help with and what to consider when hiring.
What can a B2B marketing consultancy help with?
A B2B marketing consultancy can help in different ways, depending on the specific business outcome you are looking for. You might be considering a brand refresh, have a campaign in mind, feel that there is a gap between your company versus the competition, or need to improve demand generation and sales leads. Whilst you might have an idea about what you need to do, it is often a good to seek an impartial view from outside of your organisation or to validate your strategy and the potential marketing outcome.
Here are 10 ways a B2B marketing consultancy can help:
- External audit – Using a B2B marketing consultancy as an external auditor and a fresh pair of eyes on your business can help with understanding and evaluating the status of your marketing. Choosing a B2B marketing consultant who has valuable experience in working with other companies in your sector can also help benchmark where you currently are and where you might need to be versus other companies in the same space.
- Getting the foundations right – Have you got all the necessary marketing foundations and fundamentals in place? An outside consultant can consider your overall marketing status and help you to define basic principles and marketing practices that will support an integrated marketing approach and will help to make the rest of your strategy a success. For example, they can check that you have a solid online presence and branding along with inbound and outbound marketing and lead nurturing.
- Defining strategies and campaigns for generating more business value or to ensure sales opportunities and leads – Once you have the basic marketing foundations in place, an experienced industry B2B marketing consultant can help define strategies and campaigns that generate more business value (such as improving your visual online brand) or that attract sales leads (such as incorporating inbound and outbound marketing, content development and SEO optimisation). Working with an outside consultant you will be more likely to succeed. From working with other clients in your industry a marketing consultant will have a good idea of what works, and what does not. As an example, our research with Sapio Research demonstrated that those companies in the IT sector that outsourced most of their marketing were more likely to get sales leads on a daily or weekly basis.
- 12 month plan – Need help with planning for short term and long term wins? An outside consultant can help brainstorm ideas and will have a good handle on the results that you can expect to be achieved. In the short term, you might consider a demand generation campaign to drive sales leads, for example, with longer term plans to grow your website visits through SEO over the year. It’s all about getting the balance right to achieve your sales goals.
- Gaps in inbound and outbound channels – Are you utilising all the possible marketing options in your outbound, inbound and account based marketing channels? We talked about getting the foundations right, but an outside consultant can also be useful in helping to identify any gaps that need to be filled (LinkedIn advertising or content syndication to support a campaign) or targeted account-based marketing campaigns. Is your inbound marketing performing as well as expected? There may be opportunities to strengthen your inbound channel with more content or improved SEO.
- Visual branding or brand refresh – 78% of the respondents in our recent survey believe that visual brand identity has a “reasonable” or “high” influence on the cost value of what they sell. However, less than a third thought that their visual brand identity is strong enough to give them a competitive advantage. Clearly this is an area where help is needed, and engaging an external agency or consultant with the right brand expertise and design skills honed in your particular industry sector, can help. Getting your online visual brand identity right is key to increasing business value and competitiveness.
- Messaging analysis – As part of any branding project, a B2B marketing consultant can help build a messaging matrix to determine your brand identity and what your brand offers and how you talk about your brand. A messaging matrix contains copy that you can use to communicate the value of your brand to prospects and customers at different stages in the buying process. Not only does it help your sales organisation to talk about your brand, but it also helps employees, partners and vendors to understand and communicate about your product and services in a consistent way. It ensures that everyone is using the same brand tone and messaging.
- Competitive Landscape – As part of any branding and messaging initiative, it is important to understand where your brand, products and services fit versus the competition. A clear understanding, will help you to determine unique selling points of your products to highlight in messaging and whether your visual brand is well targeted or you need to make changes to keep your company ahead.
- Persona analysis – A B2B marketing consultant that understands your industry will be able to quickly understand the customer journey for your business, help qualify your target audience and make sure that the right content is aligned to different personas with call-to-actions displayed at the right time. Understanding the types of people that buy your products will become even more important with the adoption of AI based around chat.
- A B2B marketing consultant, backed by a full-service technical marketing agency and dedicated team (strategist, project manager, content manager, SEO expert, web and graphic designer, etc.) can provide both strategic marketing support for your business and help build your marketing campaigns.
What to look for when hiring a B2B marketing consultant
Does the B2B marketing consultancy have:
- In-depth understanding of your industry? – does the agency have a track record of working with clients in a similar or adjacent industry to yours – so that they can get to grips quickly with your business model?
- Expertise to support you from strategy to developing content? – an understanding, not only of how your business works, but also the expertise to develop content that will resonate with your particular audience. All in one place – seamless delivery.
- A good understanding of your customers/personas to develop successful campaigns and content? – established experience in your industry, makes it easier for an agency to develop content for the types of audience and purchasing groups that your industry works with. Complex sales cycles and multiple personas.
- Experience working with your technology and understanding the processes involved? (e.g. manufacturing, products) – an understanding, not just of how your business works, but an understanding of the underlying technology or processes that you are selling can be a real plus point. Do they have a background or education in IT, engineering or chemistry, for example.
- The ability to get your technical message across in the right way? Not only do you need to ensure that the B2B marketing consultancy you use understands your business and processes, but that the content developed is written by someone with a clear understanding of the processes etc. involved. Technical businesses target a range of buyers, so you need to develop content that different stakeholders from commercial to technical will understand. Plain English.
If the answer is yes to the above, then you have made a good start in identifying the right fit B2B marketing consultant for your business.
And, one final tip. Ask for case studies and references in a similar product area. The more experience they have in your industry, the better understanding they will have of your business, how it works and will be able to deliver the strategy, branding and content required. This expertise can help speed up the process and support your business on reaching goals.
Contact Motion Marketing – your B2B marketing consultants for IT, Engineering and Manufacturing to find out how we can help with a range of marketing strategies.