We’ve heard again and again from technology companies (and even some of our larger clients) that they were not getting what they needed from many of their agencies. They were too slow, too expensive or simply not understanding their business well enough to add value. In short, they weren’t evolving fast enough to meet the changing needs of their clients.
We decided to turn this insight into a bit of a theme for our booth at the SiriusDecisions Summit this year in Vegas. Instead of blatantly promoting ourselves (which isn’t really our style anyway), we would let the attendees do the talking. We wanted to hear from them what they like—and disliked—about their agency partners.
Most of all, as a sponsor, we wanted to show attendees that there are different, and better, options out there for agency partners—like us! Of course, we’re not the only one. (There were a number of great agencies also sponsoring the event.) But the key is to find a marketing partner that works the way you need them to work, and not vice versa.
Knowing that tradeshow attendees love to win prizes, we brought along our trusty prize wheel and asked passerby’s to give it a whirl. One of the printed wheel slots asked the spinner to tell us a story about their best experience working with an agency, while another asked for their worst experience. In exchange for the story, they would receive a Starbucks gift card.
Here’s just a few of the interesting things we heard over the span of three days:
“We worked with an agency that understood “It’s all about the brief.” (Side note – We had a long conversation about whether this phrase would be better on a bumper sticker, a T-shirt or a permanent tattoo). It took a little while to train ourselves to use the briefs in an effective way and to articulate what was really important. But once we did it, the whole process generally became smooth and our agency was able to execute on things very quickly – Director of Marketing, Internet Security
“At my previous company, we worked with an agency that took the time to listen to us then explain why things should be done a certain way. They didn’t just agree with what I wanted to do. They pushed back on ideas that they thought were dumb or they thought would fail with our audience. They communicated their push back really well so as not to bruise some of the more fragile egos at our company” – VP of Demand Generation, Microchip Manufacturer
“We have an awesome agency that makes my life easier. They understand our products really well. They send me helpful competitive information regularly. And they understand how we work and how things get done internally. I rarely need to explain things twice to them because they get it. The funny thing is that they’re not in my city, so I’ve only met them a couple of times, but we talk almost every day.” – Senior Marketing Manager, Financial Services
“We had an agency that tried to fit us in their model, instead of customizing their model to meet our business. We have a product that is more transactional rather than a long sales cycle with multiple stakeholders. They kept suggesting techniques and tactics that didn’t make sense for us.” – Director of Marketing, Networking Software
“We had a massive product launch planned and we briefed our agency four months in advance. We didn’t have all of stuff together, but we had enough information to brief the agency and get them going in the right direction. About three weeks before the launch, they let us know they wouldn’t be able to meet our timeline and wanted to push things back by two months. They gave no advance warnings that the timeline would be a problem. We wound up doing a staggered launch, but the first month sucked because we didn’t have enough air cover or assets. We fired them.” – VP of Product Marketing, Software
“We had an agency that won us over with their “A” team. They were super-smart and really understood our business. Though once the contract was signed and it was time to start working, we got the “C” team—not even the “B” team! The Account Director was okay, but the account people were very junior and couldn’t wrap their heads around our product. I remember one of them asking our VP of Marketing a couple of really immature questions that had us all rolling our eyes. After complaining enough, we eventually got the “B” team to support the account. A few months after that, we stop doing projects with them altogether. It wasn’t worth the hassle.” – Director of Marketing, Hardware Company
There are fantastic B2B agencies out there. Unfortunately, there are also some poor ones. We strive to be one of the best by constantly evolving, which is why we want to understand what marketers value and what leaves them frustrated.
If you can relate to the positive experiences, congratulations on finding a long-term partner for your business! However, if the negative stories tend to resonate more with you, maybe it’s time to find a new agency partner.
If you have a project in mind or a problem you’re trying to solve, we’d be happy to have a video call with you to see if we can help.