This is a guest post writte by Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer). Paul is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and HubSpot partner, and author of the Wiley book, The Marketing Agency Blueprint.
Change is not always easy, but it is inevitable. In the coming years, the marketing services industry will be transformed, and the criteria that marketers use to select and manage agency partners will evolve.
Traditional firms — PR, advertising, web, SEO, content — that are unable or unwilling to evolve will fade, and a new category of disruptive hybrid agencies will rise to prominence. These tech-savvy, modern marketing agencies thrive on change and continually apply advances in technology to strengthen their businesses, evolve their services, and deliver greater value to you, the clients.
The Impact of Inbound Marketing
Consumers are tuning out traditional, interruption-based marketing methods and choosing when and where to interact with brands. This creates exponential growth in demand for inbound marketing services across the core areas of search, social, content, PR, email, analytics, web, digital advertising, mobile, and more.
The future belongs to dynamic agencies with more efficient management systems, integrated services, versatile talent, a love for data, and a commitment to producing results that can be tracked in real time and correlated directly to sales.
Keys to Agency Partnership Success
The right marketing agency can be a tremendous asset to your organization. Here are seven factors to keep in mind when evaluating, selecting, and managing a firm:
1) Insist on "A" players.
The greatest value an agency can bring to clients is staffing its account teams with "A" players. These professionals are analytical, confident, creative, detail-oriented, highly motivated, and strategic — all traits that consistently translate to success.
2) Find tech-savvy partners.
Agencies that are immersed in technology trends and innovations are able to more readily adapt their own business models, continually increase efficiency and productivity, evolve client campaigns, and make strategic connections to seemingly unrelated information.
3) Demand that digital is ingrained in their DNA.
Every agency, or at least the ones that will still be relevant in the coming years, is a digital agency. Having a digital division or group within an agency is not sufficient. Digital has to be ingrained into the agency’s culture and talent as a whole.
You cannot build digital marketing strategies and campaigns in silos. Social, search, mobile, web, email, and other digital strategies must be fully integrated, along with traditional activities, into every program and budget.
4) Look for data lovers.
Leading marketing agencies turn information into intelligence, and intelligence into action. They build campaigns that consistently produce measurable outcomes, including inbound links, website traffic, leads, and sales. Hybrid agencies are staffed by measurement geeks who are obsessed with data.
5) Invest in the doers.
The marketing services world is full of thinkers, talkers, and self-proclaimed gurus, but after a while, they all start to sound the same. The greatest value for your organization is in agencies and professionals that drive change by practicing what they preach.
Turn to agencies with demonstrated track records of success, starting with their own brands. Evaluate the strength of their website, the power of their staff’s personal brands, the value and frequency of content on their blog, and their reach and engagement in social networks.
6) Seek systems for success.
Prototype hybrid agencies are powered by systems that continually increase efficiency and productivity, encourage creativity, accelerate innovation, and push professionals to realize and embrace their potential. All of this produces higher performance levels and more satisfied clients.
Align your organization with agencies that take a systemic approach to professional development, project management, client services, monitoring, measurement, reporting, and communications.
7) Find partners, not providers.
Agency professionals must understand the importance of each client. Employees should be 100% focused on your happiness and success.
Your agency team has to become indispensible through their hard work, insight, consultation, services, expertise, friendship and professionalism. They must do the little things that build relationships and take the time to show you they care about your successes, both on individual and organizational levels.
What do you look for in a modern marketing agency? How do you see them evolving and adopting effective inbound marketing strategies?
Image Credit: David Lofink