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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistMon, Mar 5, 2018 11 min read

3 Phrases You Never Want To Hear From Your Digital Marketing Agency

Selecting A Digital Marketing Agency

And 3 Phrases You Do Want To Hear As Often As Possible

Selecting A Digital Marketing AgencyThe pool of people and companies available to help you with your company’s demand generation, inbound marketing and sales execution is bigger than ever before. Sifting through all of these companies (and the people who work there) is more challenging and more confusing than ever before.

A digital marketing agency that looks similar on paper (or the web) to its competitors might be dramatically different when you pull back the covers. However, you have to decide which agency you want to work with long before you get to truly see the inner workings. We’ve made it our mission to help you make the best, most educated decision by providing the materials that help you uncover an agency’s true nature long before you hire them.

Here’s another article in that series of helpful agency section materials.

One of the best ways to know if you’re working with the right agency is to evaluate how the agency responds to a variety of different situations. Since most of you are working with agencies now or have worked with agencies in the past, here are a few “look out” phrases we hope you never hear. But if you do, it might be time to start looking for a new agency partner.  

We Don’t Know Why…

No agency is going to execute flawlessly. In fact, you don’t want them to. Your agency should be coming to you with ideas, experiments and tests to help produce improved results. However, the nature of experimentation is that most experiments will not produce improved results. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes.

The trouble comes from not knowing why your tests, your experiments or your recommended approaches don’t produce better results. When your agency says, “we don’t know why…,” it’s a pretty good indicator they didn’t know what they were doing from the beginning. They should always know why something worked or didn’t work. That’s where the learning comes in.

We Didn’t Check For That…

Selecting A Demand Generation AgencyToday’s marketing and sales execution is hyper complex, with hundreds of elements in a well-orchestrated revenue generation program.

Websites, search engine optimization, email marketing, lead nurturing, marketing and sales automation  just to call out a handful of tactical options. However, your agency should be executing tactics that they’ve been executing as experts. This expertise means using systems, processes and methodologies designed to support that execution.

For example, agencies that deliver websites should have comprehensive quality assurance (QA) processes to ensure your site launches with no operational errors. Agencies that provide content to clients should have processes and a team responsible and accountable for marking sure your content (no matter what format) is error-free and on target from a strategy and editorial perspective.

We Can’t Help You With That…

Not every agency does everything you might need, but you should know that going into the relationship. You don’t want to ask for help in one area you expect them to be highly proficient in, only to find out they can’t do it. Even if you’re asking them to do something they’ve never done before (and you’re OK with them working on it for the first time), they should be willing to help you and not back out, leaving you to figure it out on your own.

You’ll find two kinds of agencies vendor agencies and strategic partner agencies. Different companies need different types of agencies. One isn’t good and the other bad, but you do need to know which type is right for you. Any strategic partner agency should be willing to help you with whatever you want, even if that means bringing in another agency with a different skill set to help you with your program goals.

Since we talked about what you do not want to hear, we should talk about you do want to hear.

Let’s Test That…

Learn How To Pick The Best Inbound Agency With The Inbound Marketing Agency Selection ChecklistAs we mentioned in the first section here, the secret to results is testing, experimentation and ongoing optimization of what you’re doing to produce month-over-month program performance improvements. This means that when we work strategically with our clients, we often have different opinions on what to do next. Sometimes our team disagrees, and sometimes we disagree with our clients. Rarely do we have right answers, so instead we defer to let’s test that!

Let’s test both ideas, opinions or perspectives. Regardless who’s idea it was, we’ll test it to see which one works better. We don’t care where the great idea comes from, but we do want to know what works, because the data shows us (beyond any doubt) which approach worked better.

The best, most progressive and successful agencies are all about testing. They have testing methodologies, they have optimization processes and they’re constantly iterating on the work they do. It’s all designed to produce better results for their clients.

Here’s What That Data Is Telling Us…

Selecting An Inbound Marketing AgencyMarketing and sales used to be all about the art. Today, it’s all about the science. The better your agency is with data, the better they’re going to be with overall results. They should be referencing data in almost every conversation with you. They should be prepared with data to support their position, and they should be using data to build the experiments and tests we discussed above.

This is one of the reasons we feel so strongly about technology; not just CRM for sales and marketing automation but a full revenue tech stack. Especially today, when new technology comes out monthly. Our technology practice evaluates and tests tools. In some cases, we use tools that provide new sets of data never before available. We feel strongly that the more data we have, the better our decision-making and the better the results for clients.

For example, I saw a tool called Growlabs that specializes in producing between five times and 10 times improvement with cold email campaigns. While we might not have been fans of this type of marketing in the past, that was solely because the performance was so poor. But give me a tool that drives a higher ROI and we’ll gladly test it and approve it for use with our clients — once we see it works.

Here’s How We Can Get You That…

Saying “yes” is so much better than saying “no.” You want your agency to say, “here’s how we can do this,” and not, “we can’t do that.” That might require some patience on your part as they go away and figure out how they can do what you want. But they should be willing to try. That’s what partners do.

It’s likely that the answer to your question might include a variety of options. We love giving clients options and guiding them through the evaluation process. We view our role as guides, so while we might find out how to do it, we’ll then help you decide which option is the best for your budget, your timeline and, most importantly, your prospects.

Agencies come in all shapes and sizes. It’s difficult to find the best one for you and your company’s goals. One of the best ways to select the right agency is to ask a lot of questions. In the answers you’ll often find the hidden data points that help you decide if the agency you’re evaluating is the best fit for your needs. Directories, references, websites and other marketing materials can make any agency look solid, but it’s up to you to look past the flashy websites and dig down into the details.

Square 2 Marketing – Revenue Is Earned With Experience, Methodology And Insights!


Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist

Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.