Businesses large and small depend on outsourced marketing specialists to help them fine-tune their strategies and take the lead on new marketing initiatives. Taking on this role means coming to clients loaded with strategic partnerships so you can follow through on your big plans with effective creative work. The partnerships that work best are long-lasting ones, with teams that do more than just produce content or design websites, but understand the goals and objectives of your clients.
So, before you shake their hand and ink a deal, it’s important to treat discussions with creative agencies like an interview. If you’re wondering how to build a reliable outsourced marketing team, here are three important areas to consider and some relevant questions to ask before bringing them aboard.
Learning How They Work With Others
Inviting a new creative team into your process can be a beautiful thing. However, this depends on their ability to adapt to your internal processes, engage with your current team, and deliver content to your clients. For starters, your success has come in no small part from the way you manage your own team, whether those are internal hires or contracted partners. It’s understandable that a creative agency like design shop or content provider has their own internal processes, but the right fit for your partnership should be able to modulate their steps to work with your own.
Additionally, the work this creative team will be handing is going to represent you to your clients. Your customers came to you because of your expertise and ability to strategize their approach to marketing. In turn, you need a reliable squad who can deliver key assets competently and consistently. For instance, if you’re looking for a web design vendor, they may have significant back-and-forth with your client about page flow, widgets, APIs, and functionality. If you’re going to trust them, they need to represent your business with the same care and attention you would.
Questions to Ask:
- What kind of clients have they worked with?
Get a sense for their previous client work, as well as whether they’ve had channel partners in the past. This is also important if you have clients in highly regulated industries like banking or law.
- Do they have any case studies?
Anyone can claim to do great work, but case studies can give you genuine insight into the content or assets they’ve produced. It also indicates what working with them might be like from the perspective of previous partners.
- How do they handle communication?
Are these the kind of people that prefer to meet in-person, or will a phone call suffice? What kind of hours are they available? Get a sense of what to expect when questions, comments, and concerns arise.
Get to Know Their Feedback Process
At Metonymy Media, we always say there’s no such thing as a perfect first draft. Even when we absolutely nail an initial piece of writing, there’s always something that can be adjusted to make things better. The creative process for a new client is like learning a new language, and you wouldn’t expect a student to start speaking perfect French after just one class. In the same sense, any outsourced marketing professional should be equipped to handle feedback from either you or your client.
We get it. No one likes being told their work stinks. But by having plans and processes in place to deal with feedback, projects get stronger over time. It’s about trusting that the marketers you team up with don’t fear edits but instead welcome them, knowing they can actually enrich the final product. It’s also a matter of professionalism and being enjoyable to work with.
Questions to Ask:
- What is your internal editing process?
Before an asset is delivered to you or your client for feedback, it’s good to know that there are other peers reviewing the work. Inquire about how they workshop, or who has final say before delivery.
- How would you respond to something that needs a complete overhaul?
Finding out that a piece of content has completely missed the mark is always going to sting, but having plans in place for significant revision for marketing pieces will ensure progress doesn’t get stuck in the mud. As Mary Pickford said, “Failure is not falling down, but staying down.”
- Do they view feedback as a two-way street?
Sometimes feedback needs clarification, and they should feel comfortable coming back to you or a client to get additional notes before making those changes. When they put in the same energy to the feedback process, the whole thing can feel far more productive.
Establishing Their Long-Term Bandwidth
As I said before, these relationships work best when they’re designed for the long haul. The decision you make to team up is going to be based on assurance they can provide great work for multiple clients. With that in mind, it’s important to suss out if this is going to be a foundational partnership or if you’re speaking to a flash-in-the-pan.
Another key element here is to get to the root of who makes up their team and what you can expect from them. In the same way that your clients have multiple stakeholders and opinions to consider, an outsourced marketing team may have many cooks in the proverbial kitchen. It’s also a way to get a baseline as to their current workload. Make sure they understand the scope and size of your own projects and ask about turnaround time. If you’re overloading creatives, the chances are their work is only going to suffer.
Questions to Ask:
- What is their team size like?
Though it’s not the answer to everything, getting an idea of how many staffers they can dedicate to projects is important. It also gives you a chance to find out more about the individuals you’ll be interacting with.
- How many clients do they service?
This should be more than just a rundown. Ask about how often they produce content on a weekly or monthly basis, and if your client load will be something they can handle.
- What are their company goals for the future?
You have goals for growth, so why wouldn’t your desired partner? Make sure they don’t have plans to leave anytime soon or outgrow your relationship.
Identifying an outsourced marketing team can provide you with the ability to sign more clients, take on more work, and come through on any promises you’ve made in the past. When this search process is given the same care as you would an internal hire, you can be sure that you’ve got a reliable outsourced team to depend on.