Marketing is an umbrella term for a wide variety of methods and strategies meant to benefit your business. Your business has different needs that will require different types of marketing efforts. For instance, engaging with your audience and improving sales are related, but still separate goals, so you can’t apply the exact same strategy for both. And if your need is to connect your business and product to other businesses, it will require business-to-business (B2B) marketing.
Growing and expanding your business will require a strong marketing plan. Running a business doesn’t require the exact same skillset as marketing a business. Many marketing professionals will specialize their focus on a specific sector, such as B2B marketing. These consultants or agencies utilize their specialization to help businesses improve their marketing strategies.
What is a B2B marketing consultant?
As a business owner or CEO, you may not have the expertise or simply the time to put a heavy focus on all facets of marketing. B2B marketing targets people that represent other businesses as customers. B2B marketing consultants work with you to develop and implement new strategies for connecting you to the businesses in your target audience.
The Benefits of Hiring a Consultant
Focusing on a specialty has a lot of benefits compared to having surface-level knowledge of a general topic. Hiring a consultant will give you more time to focus on your business while they build you an effective marketing strategy. A consultant will also bring a fresh perspective and a new angle to your marketing. As well, they only have one role that they can dedicate their full time to. It’s also easier to teach one person your business needs and style versus a group.
How much does B2B consulting cost?
According to ZipRecruiter, the national average pay for a marketing consultant is $26 per hour. That may be a good starting point for you to configure your budget. Figuring out your budget will determine how much you can spend on a B2B consultant or agency. These marketing professionals may charge a fixed fee, invoice their materials and time spent later, or request a base fee with an added risk/reward element based on the achieved outcomes. For a longer project, they may ask for a monthly or annual retainer that guarantees them a fixed fee.
The Benefits of Hiring an Agency
Consultants may only offer strategy, planning, or execution, while an agency can accomplish all three. An agency may also be able to give you more individualized attention because they have more (wo)manpower. Hiring a marketing agency is especially necessary for businesses that don’t have a large in-house marketing division. Outsourcing the entirety of your B2B marketing efforts will take the burden off of you and your employees.
How to Hire a B2B Marketing Agency or Consultant
- Define the outcomes you want to achieve.
- Decide whether you want an agency or a consultant.
- Choose a budget and stick to it.
- Establish what specialties your hire should have.
- Create a shortlist.
- Pick 10 insightful interview questions.
- Begin the partnership!
Choosing the right agency or consultant for your business will take some searching. Hiring the wrong marketing help could end up being a waste of resources and your budget if they end up not making progress toward any of your goals. Follow these steps to hire the best one for your business.
1. Define the outcomes you want to achieve.
There’s a reason why you’re seeking the help of a consultant or agency for your B2B marketing. Pinpoint what you want to be improved, whether that is improving something specific within your current marketing strategy or developing a brand new strategy. These goals should be structured in a way that allows them to be tracked so that you can monitor progress toward achieving them.
2. Decide whether you want an agency or a consultant.
The outcomes you previously defined will help determine whether you need an agency or a consultant. If you have a smaller budget and a more specific need, then a consultant would be a good choice. If you have a larger budget and a more broad need, you may do better with a consultant.
3. Choose a budget and stick to it.
When configuring a budget for your marketing efforts, don’t forget to weigh the risk versus the reward. If the reward that you stand to gain is substantial, then it may be fair to advocate a bit more of the budget to your B2B marketing efforts. Then, search for agencies or consultants within your budget.
4. Establish what specialties your hire should have.
Narrow the list even further by focusing on the professionals that have experience in your industry, ideally with exact B2B marketing experience in your industry. Use your desired outcomes to choose what work history and skill set your top candidates should have.
5. Create a shortlist.
Once you’ve found some candidates within your budget that have a skill set that aligns with your goals, you can start naming some to a shortlist. Choose candidates that you believe are worth interviewing that might be a good fit for the role.
6. Pick 10 insightful interview questions.
What do you really want to know about a potential B2B consultant or agency? Have they accomplished your specific needs for another organization in the past? Do they have creative ideas? Ask them about how they handled certain situations or what strategies they’ve developed with other businesses in the past.
7. Begin the partnership!
The most exciting part comes when you see one agency or consultant stand out among the rest and you can confidently choose them as your top pick. Get the paperwork written up and start the process! Confirm the goals of this partnership with your new hire and start working on your new B2B marketing plan.
Hire a B2B Marketing Consultant or Agency
Before you hire your B2B marketing agency or consultant, you should have set clear goals to accomplish with their help. After the decided strategy is implemented, continue tracking progress toward the desired outcomes. This will help you see how valuable or effective the help of the consultant or agency ended up being for your business. As well, ensure that any strategies or methods that were implemented for the long-term continue to be maintained if they are working well.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in February 2009 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.