Finding transformational B2B marketing resource
It’s time to decide. If you’re gearing-up to boost your B2B marketing investment through an agency, freelancer or in-house team, you need to get the screening process bang-on so you can be confident in your hiring decisions. But with a raft of potential options (and suppliers) at your disposal, not to mention a market awash with freelancers, how can you assess what’s best for your business?
Our outsourcing vs inhouse marketing guide may help, however no matter the type of B2B marketing services you choose, you need to truly believe in the people you entrust with your marketing. It’s too important to risk to amateurs. So you need to be satisfied that they’re experienced in helping businesses like yours, in your sector, at your growth stage, with your budget.
You’ll also need reassurance that they’re right for you on a cultural level. Bring in a big hitter used to chunky budgets and teams of specialist agencies and you might end up with great strategy but little hands-on support. Go too far the other way and your marketing could lack leadership, direction and effectiveness. Hmmm…
So what are the questions to ask before hiring a marketing consultant or staffer? The ten cracking interview conundrums we’ve come up with will help you bottom-out the calibre of the marketing professional in front of you. It’s not a full agency brief or marketing job description. And we won’t cover all the detailed checks you need to ensure your chosen marketer has the right paperwork – that’s one for you.
Read on and you’ll arm yourself with the killer questions that’ll separate the shiny but fluffy marketer from the down-and-dirty ROI-deliverer… and enable truly stellar B2B talents to shine through. Here we go…
Question 1: Tell me where you’ve done this before…
Start by looking to put your brand, business and precious marketing budget in safe hands. This question is your chance to dive headlong into your candidate’s background, creds and experience. Focus on whether they know what’s important for a B2B business at your stage of development. Ask them to quote examples of previous B2B successes and outline the real cost of B2B marketing. Can they offer a strategic steer as well as rolling their sleeves up and mucking in?
Question 2: What’s your core area of expertise – and where will you need external support?
Let’s be honest. It’s rare to encounter the full marketing deck of cards in one person. However, to pick up the marketing reins and build high performing B2B marketing from the get go, you’re going to need someone with a broad skillset, able to manage multiple marketing disciplines, either on their own or through trusted suppliers. Look beyond your current position and imagine what’s coming next. Don’t just focus on skills that address your current pressure points – you’ll need to hire the talent to catapult you beyond your current travails and into your next phase of development.
Question 3: How will you get to know my brand and my business?
Here’s your chance to see how your candidates or agencies propose to get under the bonnet – and their willingness to get to grips with the details. This is where agencies and in-house contractors might differ. Marketers with in-house experience should seize the opportunity to show how they’ll walk the walk, seeing key stakeholders, taking road trips with Sales, talking to customer services and product development and getting stuck into competitor and client research. This is not a job for someone who loves their desk…
Question 4: What does ‘accountability’ mean to you?
In B2B, there’s no room to hide. And with every pound of budget to be cherished, accountability matters. So you’ll you need to feel confident they know how to track, measure and report success. Have they done this before? If so, how? Ask for details. After all, it’s their chance to stand up and be counted… and demonstrate they’re a rain-maker, not a big spender.
Question 5: How will you support and work in partnership with Sales?
This should be one of the most important relationships in your business – a partnership, not a rivalry, designed to generate revenue growth. So quiz your candidates on how closely they’ve worked with Sales in the past. Ask about the closeness of Sales and Marketing teams in their previous roles. Listen out for use of sales language and familiarity with the sales process. And if it sounds like Sales are the enemy, they’re probably not for you…
Question 6: What’s the biggest marketing challenge in a growing business?
Listen up for an issue that will resonate with you and your growing pains. Any marketing professional worth their salt will tackle this one gleefully and reflect the kinds of challenges that are keeping you up at night. Most importantly, they’ll show you that they know how to solve them – and use examples that draw on their previous problem-solving experience. P.S. A marketing challenge isn’t “I can’t find the right print supplier”.
Question 7: If we’re not cutting through, how will you turn things around?
Time to turn to the dark side. Don’t just imagine wins and strengths. Pick out challenging situations to bring out your candidates’ true colours. Stuff happens. Things go wrong. Strategies fail. So see how your potential marketer approaches cock-ups with remedies that’ll give you an idea of what really makes them tick. And because hypothetical questions aren’t always helpful – try and keep it real; around you, your businesses and your real world issues.
Question 8: How will you connect to my market, competition and clients?
Time to separate the outsiders from the candidates who’ve done The Knowledge. So find out how close they are to your audience, your competition and your space. A skilled B2B marketer can reel-off a host of channels and sources. But will those be relevant to you? How do they keep pace with market evolution in your sector? Deep down, how much do they really know? Remember, you’ll rely on them to stay current and move ahead at the speed of change.
Question 9: How will you help grow my business?
This is the question that gets nitty with the gritty. Because what you need now might look very different in 6, 12 or 18 months’ time, test whether they’re sufficiently adaptable and capable of delivering beyond the next financial year. Find out how they’ll approach your longer-term marketing strategy, planning and execution. Ask for insights about current trends. Then introduce some of your more distant goals and assess whether they’ve got what it takes to get you there.
Question 10: How will you market marketing?
Investing in your marketing team means making it more visible and accountable, whether it’s in-house marketing or outsourced marketing. And your leadership team might need some convincing along the way. So your chosen marketer or agency will need to earn respect, demonstrate resilience, prove their worth (literally) and show they’re adding value to your business. What will they do to achieve this, and grow the profile of marketing (as a team and a discipline) sometimes in the face of internal resistance…
And one final question for you…
If you’re thinking of investing in professional B2B marketing services, there’s no time to lose. Why outsource B2B marketing? As a leading B2B marketing supplier in London we’ll be happy to enlighten you. To turbocharge your B2B marketing investment with our insight and experience
If you’re thinking of investing in professional B2B marketing services, there’s no time to lose. Why outsource B2B marketing? As a leading B2B marketing supplier in London we’ll be happy to enlighten you. To turbocharge your B2B marketing investment with our insight and experience contact us now.
If you’re planning on interviewing B2B marketing agencies, take a look at Hubspot’s “7 Questions Every Client Should Ask Before Signing an Agency” (Jul 2014) and Entrepreneur’s article: “10 Questions Every Entrepreneur Needs to Ask Suppliers”.