It's definitely not for every b2b
B2b digital marketing services come in many forms, and offer many different outcomes. If you're thinking about hiring a digital marketing company to grow your business, you should understand how they define success, so you can determine whether they're a good fit, or if you need something more or less robust.
Maybe you just need somebody on social media. Maybe you need spend more time grinding it out on the phones... Maybe you need a digital marketing company to show you the way...
The "best" digital marketing services are relative...
How committed are you?
If you're constantly retooling your business, and foresee a major overhaul of your deliverables, messaging, or anything like it, I suggest you hold off on a full-blown program, or at least hiring a digital marketing company - for now.
We had a staffing agency client that dropped an entire service line after committing half of our efforts towards it for 8 months! We built an entire microsite for it, an SEO strategy, and published blog posts, social media posts, and content offers... But they were having troubles filling those roles when they did come in, and decided that it wasn't in their best interests to continue pursuing them.
We didn't disagree, but that's an enormous waste of resources. So, before you jump into inbound, ask yourself, "how confident am I that there won't be any major business changes (like that) over the next 12 months?"
It's okay to pivot, but if you see a lot of changes in your future, perhaps a dedicated growth agency is the way to go, since their sphere of influence transcends lead generation and marketing KPIs.
Where do your customers go for information?
This is kind of a trick question, because the reality is that they probably search Google, since Google is receiving about 63,000 queries per SECOND. However, age group, industry, and overall demographics matter too, since younger people are more likely to spend MORE time searching there vs seeking answers through other means, like word of mouth.
But let's go beyond Google... What about LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram? If you're in the b2b arena, LinkedIn is an obvious choice, but don't let that sway you away from Facebook, which has over 2 BILLION active users, or 1/3 of the entire human population. And Youtube isn't that far behind with 1.5 billion active users.
Some of you are thinking that perhaps your industry is too "blue collar" for the internet... but I challenge you to reconsider.
We have a client in freight forwarding that gets ALL of their customers through inbound marketing. We had a limo company that received about HALF of their customers through inbound.
B2B is a no-brainer, in my opinion. We work with staffing companies and Software/SaaS companies that do REALLY well, because their target audiences spend a LOT of time in front of the computer.
But if you're running an Amazon store, or something similar, inbound isn't going to help. Solid ratings and good prices and products... those are your keys to success there.
How big are you?
Being small doesn't automatically disqualify you from being able to benefit from online marketing services, but it does make a difference.
If you're a sole practitioner, inbound is likely going to have some good options, but you are likely going to need to bootstrap it to make it work. An agency or full-time hire will simply cost too much.
But it also depends on whether you need to boostrap out of financial necessity, or whether you're doing it because you just don't have the resources you need to get it done.
How much do you want to grow?
The inbound marketing methodology follows a very specific formula. We blog a certain amount, post on social media a certain amount, email a certain amount, and publish a certain amount of content offers - all based on your growth goals.
If $100,000 growth is your goal for the next year, inbound can still work for you, but utilizing a third-party digital marketing company won't make much sense because of costs.
You should be willing to spend up to 10% of your overall goals on inbound, and if we were to break that down from $100,000, that's $10,000. Spread over 14 months (2 for launch), you're looking at a monthly total of $714. A) No inbound marketing agency will find that interesting enough to give you the time of day. B) Even if you go the freelancer route, you'll be lucky to get a couple of blogs per month at that rate, and that doesn't close the inbound marketing strategy circle in order for it to be effective. C) You need to spend some of that on delivery tools, like Hubspot, and that alone could eat up half of your overall budget.
BUT, if that's your goal, that doesn't mean you're out of options. A freelancer could supplement your own efforts, or you could spend some of that on Hubspot's inbound certification program ($3,000). So, as long as you're willing to put in the elbow grease (and have the right chops), you CAN get somewhere...
If you're looking for a turn-key solution, expect to spend $4,000+/month. That's a minimum of $56,000/year, which means that your growth goals should start at around $500,000/year.
My recommendation is to expect to put some money into paid ads as well, particularly if your website gets little to no traffic today. $500 - $1,000/month is the low-end of that for achieving tangible results, so in reality, you want your goals to start at around $600,000/year for a turn-key solution.
Download this free Marketing Objectives Calculator to learn more:
Do you have a dedicated sales person/team?
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a competent sales person or team handling your inbound leads. And by "competent," I mean, get a SEASONED professional in there - somebody who knows how to hunt.
Inbound leads are going to be your best leads, but that doesn't mean they'll close themselves.
Here are a handful of important traits they should have:
- They should know how to hunt - Not all of your leads are going to request demos or straight up offer you the job order they're holding onto. Often, they need to be nudged, and a good salesperson will be able to look at a lead, determine their level of engagement, and USE it to make a connection.
In addition, tools like Hubspot offer visibility on the companies visiting your website, and that data can be leveraged to warm up even the coldest of cold calls.
- They should have a "drop-everything" mentality - We put a lot of technology in play with our programs, so sales can have the best lead response time possible. If they connect with prospects within the first 5 minutes of engaging with your content/website, they are 2,200% more likely to engage in a meaningful conversation.
There is no presentation or email prospecting that should take precedence over calling somebody in that moment, but you'd be amazed at how the farmer-type sales people simply don't get it.
When that sales alert comes in, they need to POUNCE.
- They should have an actual process - Every call needs to have meaning and purpose... not just the connects, but also the messages. Calling to see if they have needs is a cold game. Cramming a 30 second elevator pitch is a cold game. With inbound leads, they should be serving as consultants.
Then once the first connect is complete, I want to see them tee up the next call, and have a tried and true road map to closing the deal.
What's your budget?
Sometimes it doesn't matter what the goals are... budget is budget, right? If you're not ready to commit $3,000 - $5,000/month, there's no point in even going down this road.
But if you think about it - that's not even a full salary for a competent marketer, and you're getting a ton of skills and delivery for that amount. You're also getting a tried and true formula that WILL work.
Digital marketing companies can bring much-needed versatility and perspective that a solo hire can't. On the other hand, they've built their businesses to be scalable, and to focus around a handful of core competencies. This means that they may be less flexible to your daily whims, which can be a real detriment to a lean start-up that has many hard pivots in its future.
To learn more about the digital marketing services we offer to b2bs, click HERE: