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How to Develop a Successful B2B Agency Partnership

Overview

Many businesses hire a marketing agency without knowing quite what to expect. This can lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications. 

From the start, you’ll want to make sure you select a trustworthy, full-service B2B marketing agency that has expertise with similar businesses to yours. But even when your agency has thorough experience with B2B marketing, processes can break down if both sides aren’t aligned.

These breakdowns waste time and resources, leaving both parties frustrated. To avoid this, it’s important to remember that this is a partnership that requires responsibility and trust on both sides.  

In this article, we’ll give you six tips to ensure your agency partnership gets off to a successful start.

Provide the Right Information

If you don’t fully inform your agency about where your business currently stands and what you aim to achieve, you’re not going to get the full benefits of the partnership.  Make sure you answer the following basic questions from the beginning:

  • Who are your top three competitors?
  • Who is/are your target buyer(s)?
  • What is your key message?
  • Have there been any organizational/leadership changes that are not clearly reflected on your website or in your marketing collateral?
  • Is there any outdated information that your agency should be aware of and look out for (e.g., product name changes, feature changes)?
  • What does a “win” look like for you?

Some companies are hesitant to share sensitive information like financial data, product plans, or potential business partnerships, but your agency needs to know this to understand the big picture. You share this information with your employees under a confidentiality agreement; the agency is working for you just like your employees. Consider bringing the agency in under a similar confidentiality contract so that you’re aligned on these crucial facts and objectives.

Ensure Alignment throughout the Process

B2B marketing is complex, and it can take time for your agency partner to learn the ins and outs of your brand, messaging, industry, and audience.

You can improve everyone’s effectiveness by establishing intermediate checkpoints as you align on brand guidelines and project briefs. A marketing-as-a-service agency can help you with brand development if you’re still defining your brand, but you’ll need to work together every step of the way. When a brief is presented, whether you provide it to the agency or the agency develops it for approval, this is the time to iron out any points of concern. 

Especially early on in the relationship, it’s helpful to review outlines, video storyboards, low-fidelity wireframes, etc., to ensure the direction is what you had in mind. At this point, it’s easier to make adaptations, which saves everyone time in the long run.

Communicate Efficiently 

One of the major reasons agency-client relationships break down is poor communication. Clear communication is crucial, and you’ll need to agree on the best channels for meetings and quick discussions as well as how to send and review deliverables. 

Decide on a regular virtual meeting cadence with relevant individuals or teams and stick to it. Depending on your company’s needs, these may be more or less frequent. You may find it’s faster and more efficient to communicate via Slack or email for matters that need to be resolved quickly.

Make sure the method you choose for sharing deliverables is one that both parties have easy access to, for example, a shared Google Drive, Dropbox, or Confluence space. Avoid sharing via email as this quickly gets messy – losing track of versions, piling up of messages, and leaving people out are all possible pitfalls. 

Provide Constructive Feedback

When you receive deliverables, you’ll need to be clear and open in your feedback. As discussed above, it’s helpful to review work at intermediate checkpoints. Feedback should be appropriate to what you’re reviewing. For example, on an outline, comment on the overall topics and structure; there’s no need to go into detail on the wording. If the first draft follows what you approved in the outline, this is not the time to ask for a complete overhaul on a different topic.

Examples of Feedback
UnhelpfulHelpful
Make this look better.Adjust the colors and make the title stand out more.
I don’t like this section.Please reframe this section to focus on…
We don’t want to cover this because…; consider replacing with…
This section needs to be tightened up/expanded.
We don’t offer one of these features anymore. (without specifying which one)We don’t offer x feature anymore.
I don’t like this topic. (When you agreed to it in the brief)Please reframe the messaging to focus on…
Change this image.Please replace this image with …

Giving detailed feedback reduces the need for rework and ensures the deliverables meet your expectations. 

Recognize that Deadlines Are a Two-Way Street

When you enter into an agency partnership, you’ll set up tentative deadlines for deliverables. Your plans may change over time, and a good B2B marketing agency will follow agile practices to accommodate you within reason. However, remember that meeting deadlines is not solely dependent on the agency; it also depends on the review process. To ensure deadlines are met, you’ll need to commit to review work within a certain timeframe.

Here’s an example of a typical review process.

diagram of review process from draft submissions to approval
You’ll need to meet deadlines on your end to keep the process moving.

Once your relationship is established, fewer review cycles will be necessary as greater trust and alignment develop.

Maintain Mutual Trust

Choosing a marketing-as-a-service agency demonstrates trust in their expertise, and with a smooth partnership, that trust should grow over time. Your agency also recognized your business’s value and potential for growth when they accepted you as a client. The success of your business is a mutual goal.

No one understands your business better than you do, so the agency relies on your expertise as the final authority on anything related to your product or service. At the same time, you need to rely on your agency’s acumen in marketing and trust their advice.

B2B marketing strategies take time to show results. If you don’t see immediate results, that doesn’t mean the process isn’t working. This isn’t blind faith; a good agency will be able to show you the ROI of their efforts. The process has proven to bring other companies success, and if you allow it the time, it will do the same for yours.

Partner with a B2B Marketing-as-a-Service Agency Now

At Brighttail, we understand what it takes to have a successful client-agency relationship. We’re eager to work with businesses to build expertise around their product, come together on a strategy, and ensure constant communication throughout the process.

We truly see our clients as partners and are invested in the long-term growth and success of their businesses. If you’re considering whether a marketing-as-a-service agency partnership is right for you, contact us for a free consultation.

Disclaimer: This article was originally authored by Susan Swier

The Author

David Ho

David hails from a rather unorthodox background in writing and applied linguistics. He wandered the wilderness of sales and tech recruitment for close to 3 years before coming home to content writing.

David Ho