A lot of time, effort, and energy go into operating a manufacturing business. Many business owners feel like they don’t have leftover effort for marketing their business. However, if you want to boost manufacturing sales and grow your company, you need a commitment to marketing.
Partnering with a marketing agency can take some of the pressure off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on running your business while they handle things like establishing or strengthening your online presence using tactics like content marketing, email marketing, SEO, and social media.
Of course, there are many marketing companies out there eager to offer you their services — and even more eager to take your money. So how can you narrow down your choices and select the marketing agency that’s right for your manufacturing business? It helps to ask the right questions.
Questions To Ask Before You Sign A Contract
Do I Really Need To Work With A Manufacturing Marketing Agency?
Before you start calling up different agencies and asking them questions, let’s address the question that you are probably asking yourself: Should you hire a marketing agency at all?
Well, it depends.
If word-of-mouth referrals and cold calls are enough to help you get by, and you’re satisfied with the results that they’re delivering, then you may not need to work with an agency. However, if you want to grow, or your current efforts are just barely keeping you afloat, investing in marketing can help you drive more leads and win new business.
To help you figure out whether your company needs an industrial marketing agency, we’ve put together a flowchart quiz here.
What Experience Do You Have Working With Manufacturing Companies?
Many digital marketing agencies can help a company sell more consumer products, like shoes, online. But you’re not selling shoes, are you?
Very few agencies have experience in the industrial sector and with the specific products and services you offer — that experience really matters. Industrial marketing is a very distinct and unique discipline, driven by lengthy buying cycles and a very particular audience of B2B buyers and engineers.
Therefore, before selecting a manufacturing marketing agency, be sure to ask which industrial companies they’ve worked with — specifically those in your market. Also, determine how they help their customers align with the industrial buying cycle and get to know their approach to persona targeting.
Can You Show Me Your Past Work With Other Manufacturers?
When buyers search for suppliers like you, the most critical factor in their decision is your past performance. When searching for a manufacturing marketing agency, past performance should be paramount as well.
Ask for examples of previous work — eBooks, blog posts, websites, PPC advertising, and full campaigns. Make sure that the work they can provide will reflect positively and accurately upon your business.
Perhaps even more important than the work itself is the results the work produced. Find out what kind of results — better rankings, increased traffic, more leads, greater revenue — the agency has been able to deliver to their clients in the past. Ask them if they have a list of satisfied clients who can speak to the quality of their work and impact. Customer testimonials and reviews are important for giving you validation if you'd really like to partner with the marketing agency and the results you can expect.
Do You Have Industrial Engineers On Staff?
For many industrial businesses — whether they are custom manufacturers, product manufacturers, component manufacturers, or service companies — engineers represent their best chance for winning new business. After all, engineers are the ones who typically drive procurement and sourcing events, and their endorsement can go a long way toward you winning a bid.
Unfortunately, connecting with engineers can be a challenge, and for many marketing agencies, it’s one they simply can’t overcome. Engineers simply think, work, and operate differently from other decision makers — even those in the B2B world — and traditional marketing agencies do not know how to relate to them.
Who better to break through this barrier and help you connect with an engineer than other engineers?
If your marketing agency truly specializes in manufacturing businesses, they will have industrial engineers working alongside industrial marketers to help craft marketing strategies that truly resonate with other engineers.
Can You Tell Me About Your Delivery Process?
Your buyers expect a smooth, consistent and problem-free delivery process from you, and you should expect nothing less from your marketing agency.
The agency you choose to work with should provide tactical suggestions to help you reach your goals, outlining their recommendations (at a high level) in order of priority and timing. They should also be able to identify the most critical element for success and provide a plan for executing on it.
Simply put, before signing a contract, you should know what to expect from your agency. If things are still fuzzy, or if the agency doesn’t provide their suggestions upfront, maybe you should choose a different partner.
How Do You Measure Results?
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Well, if an agency can’t measure their impact, you shouldn’t let them manage your industrial marketing.
The ability to collect, analyze, and act upon data is essential to success in marketing. Therefore, you must gain an understanding of each potential marketing partner’s approach to the following:
- Tools: Find out which tools and software the agency uses across different digital marketing channels and tactics.
- Metrics: What specific metrics do they monitor and track on an ongoing basis? There are a lot of terms that get thrown around, so don’t get lost in a jargon jungle — push for specifics and make sure you understand everything being discussed.
- Expertise: The best tools and metrics are useless without the right people at the helm to make sense of it all. Get to know as much as you can about the people who will be working on your account, including details such as certifications, credentials, and hands-on experience.
- Reporting: As is the case with any successful partnership, transparency is crucial. You should be regularly and consistently plugged into your marketing efforts and results, and this information should be conveyed in a clear and digestible manner. Ask for sample reports related to the services you are interested in.
Questions To Ask After You've Established A Partnership
Where’s the Data?
Data is critical in supporting the ROI your industrial manufacturing marketing agency is producing for your business. Data is how your agency partner keeps your company abreast of changes and results. Search rankings, website traffic, conversion rates, and other metrics should be monitored and tracked regularly.
Without your marketing data, you have no idea what you’re really paying for. Your agency should absolutely be capturing this information for all their efforts and be able to produce it for you when asked. If your industrial manufacturing marketing agency isn’t tracking your campaign data on a regular basis, request that they start immediately.
How Qualified Is My Traffic?
The focus of most industrial manufacturing marketing agency partnerships will be to boost SEO (search engine optimization) rankings and increase website traffic. But, you must understand that traffic isn’t created equal. It doesn’t matter if you receive 50,000 new hits on your website this month if none of them are buyers. Without increased sales for the increased traffic you paid for, is the investment worth it?
The goal of your industrial manufacturing marketing agency should be to bring real, active, in-market industrial buyers to your company’s website. The data you gain from question one will support the quality of traffic produced. You also want to make sure that your reporting numbers do not include worthless bot traffic skewing your data.
Questions To Ask When You're Considering Renewal
Is It All Working?
While high-level marketing stats may be what you’re most interested in, what makes the difference for your business are leads and new customers. Industrial marketing agencies sometimes have trouble showing a clear connection between their efforts and the real business results you’re achieving (or aren’t).
Opportunity intelligence tools like Thomas WebTrax works to connect these vital dots. An opportunity intelligence gives your business the ability to track, identify, and engage buyers who are in your market and uncover invisible leads that your marketing ROI may be missing.
What Else Can You Do for Me?
Often times, companies select services a la carte from an industrial manufacturing marketing company. Maybe you want a new industrial website, or a new eBook or two, so you go to your marketing partner for those specific requests. Is your partner happy to provide the bare minimum you request, or are they looking for additional ways to help you succeed?
Your agency partner should be focused on adding value and be able to scale their services around your changing needs. PPC (pay per click), video development, retargeting, and more are areas that build upon and improve your current marketing efforts to help achieve your goals.
Partner With A Manufacturing Marketing Agency
So are you a great fit for an agency, or can you use help supplementing your existing efforts with strategic digital marketing tactics? Check out our resource Train In-House vs. Hire An Agency, Freelancer if you're still not sure.
Asking these questions should help you zero in on the industrial marketing agency that’s right for your manufacturing or industrial company.
Make sure you partner with a team with a proven, successful delivery model built on a consultative approach, and they take the time to get to know your company and your goals to identify the best tactics for achieving them.
You should expect your marketing agency to be committed to transparency, relying on data to drive our decisions and continuously improve your results.
Want to learn more? We’re here to answer all your questions and put together a digital marketing program that works for you. Contact us today.
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