For many business owners, handing over some or all of their marketing functions can be a relief.
Or a nightmare.
And, if you're a business looking to shop local inbound marketing services, the concerns can be very real. How do you know this "inbound marketing" thing really works? Can they show you your ROI, or is it going to be simply an expensive exercise in best guesses and assumptions? And isn't just having a business blog good enough?
Do You Need an Inbound Marketing Service?
These are legitimate concerns for a small company that is looking to invest hard earned revenue into a third-party agency that may or may not have their best interests in mind. The marketplace is rife with many self-proclaimed marketing "gurus" and "experts" who would like to have you as their client. The problem is, as a business owner, how do you know a quality service when you see one?
This can be intimidating and you may be tempted to simply write off the whole idea.
The good news is that there are tangible qualities you can "check off" your list when vetting an inbound marketing agency. There are things you want from a firm that will let you know they have the goods, so to speak.
Show Me The Proof
There is a dynamic at work in daily lives known as "social proof." Wikipedia says this about it:
"Social proof, also known as informational social influence, is a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.This effect is prominent in ambiguous social situations where people are unable to determine the appropriate mode of behavior, and is driven by the assumption that surrounding people possess more knowledge about the situation."
In other words, humans are prone to do certain things, or make certain decisions, based on what they think everyone else who seem to know better is doing. But the problem is that social proof is relative, subjective, and often unsubstantiated.
What does this have to do with choosing an inbound marketing agency? Simply this: don't believe everything you hear from others. Look for proof of performance, proof of industry knowledge, and proof of trust. And with that in mind, here are five things you want from an agency:
1. They Use Inbound Marketing
Would you want to hire an investment adviser who doesn't invest in the same stocks he's selling you? So why consider a marketing agency that doesn't practice the type of marketing they want to sell you? You don't!
Erin Wasson, VP of Marketing at UrbanBound, said: "When evaluating any company, the first thing I do is look at their website and social media presence. I Google to see if I can find them online and evaluate how well their website is optimized for search engines."
2. They Have Client Success Stories
These can usually be seen in the form of case studies showcased on the agency's website. Being able to speak to a living, breathing client can be a powerful form of tangible "proof" that the agency in question can and has done their stuff well.
In addition to having a number of success stories, or case studies, be sure to establish that the firm works with your particular side of the marketing equation, B2C or B2B - or both! An agency that has only worked with consumer-targeting businesses may know inbound marketing, but might not be a quality fit for your B2B operation.
3. They Are "State of the Art"
In other words, they not only "know their stuff", but they are up to date. But staying up to date with industry news means not only being on top of marketing trends, but your specific industry's news and trends. Your agency should be able to teach you want you need to know.
Erin Wasson went on to note: "If I know more about available technology out there than a prospective agency, I likely would't hire them. I would want them to teach me new things and keepme on top of trends - not the other way around."
4. They Focus on Your Goals
It's sad to say, but some agencies prefer to use a cookie cutter approach to marketing - establishing a templated process and applying to each and every client, regardless of those business's specific goals and objectives. While this may produce some measurable results for the clients - and make the process more seamless and streamlined for the agency - it's more about the agency's needs than their clients.
You want your agency to know your goals and challenges thoroughly and intimately. They should be able to speak to you as if they were a part of your own management team. And there should be a proposed plan on the table before you sign a contract.
5. They Work For Your Success
A good agency will let you know when they can't really be the best fit for you. While that may seem counter intuitive, it is a hallmark of a quality firm and one that exemplifies professional integrity. In addition, it is an indication that they know their stuff well enough to know what will or will not work for you when it comes to inbound marketing.
Perhaps your goals do not align well with an inbound approach, or maybe they understand that they are not able to help you. A quality and professional firm will be upfront and transparent with you about limitations. A really good agency will be more concerned about your success than their own revenue stream.
Why Do I Even Need A Marketing Service?
You may already have a blog on your company website. And that's a great start. But keep in mind that a blog, a few social media channels, and a newsletter doesn't necessarily make an inbound marketing strategy.
So, do you even need inbound marketing services?
That's a great question and a valid one. Surely content creation and inbound marketing are tasks any capable business owner can manage? Is it really necessary to outsource these functions to a third party, no matter how good they are?
Well, yes and no.
Yes, you probably can do your own inbound marketing. But do you really have the time, resources, and knowledge to make it happen? The truth is that most companies don't. From both a resource allocation perspective and a cost-effectiveness perspective, it makes more sense to enlist the aid of a good outside team.
The Case for An Local Inbound Marketing Service
Fortunately, you don't have to attempt this on your own! Your options for implementing a successful inbound marketing strategy include turning to a professional firm that can work with you to maximize your efforts.
A qualified agency like BroadVision Marketing will develop a road map with an implementation time line, marketing milestones, and key deliverables. Using this road map we will create the framework and structure for us to work with you and help you to achieve your marketing goals.
Get your Free Complimentary Inbound Marketing Session to help you make an informed decision or call BroadVision Marketing at 707-799-1238.