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Finding the right  B2B marketing consultant can feel a lot like dating. You’ll have non-negotiable qualities you’re looking for, red flags you know to avoid, and you may have to kiss a few frogs before you eventually find your prince. 

Finding the right marketing partner is an important decision. If you get it right, your day-to-day work will run more smoothly and you’ll be able to pad your bottom line. If you get it wrong, you can waste your entire marketing budget on efforts that won’t offer ROI.  

If you need to hire a B2B marketing consultant to help grow your business, you might be overwhelmed by the abundance of choices. There are a lot of consultants, agencies, and growth teams out there and to be frank, not all of them will knock your socks off. 

It’s difficult to know who you can trust to help get results for your business. Some marketing consultants know how to talk the talk, but when it comes to walking to walk, they lead you astray or come up short on their promises. 

Not only is that a frustrating outcome, but it also costs time and money to find a new marketing partner and get back on the path to growth.  

This article will help you identify what to look for in a great B2B marketing consultant, agency or hybrid growth team. It will also point out some red flags to avoid and highlight a few key questions your potential marketing partner should be able to answer before you commit to each other. 

Typically, a B2B marketing consultant is a single person who helps a business with its marketing efforts. They might have experience in web design, SEO, email marketing, social media, or content marketing, though it’s rare for an individual consultant to have deep expertise in ALL of those areas. 

Marketing consultants can be a great option if you have a small team with a limited budget, as they’re usually cheaper to hire than their full-service counterparts. 

Consultants are also great if you only need help in one area of your marketing. Let’s say you’re already crushing it with web design and SEO,  an email marketing consultant might be all you need.  

But what if you need help in more than one area? Enter the marketing agency or hybrid growth team (I’ll explain the difference in a moment). 

Related Read: Should You Hire a Growth Marketing Agency?

One of the biggest benefits of hiring a full-service marketing team is that you’re getting a team of specialists as opposed to a single generalist. 

Need an email marketing master? Got it. 

What about a copywriting connoisseur? Got it. 

How about a web design wizard? Got that too.  

Because a growth marketing team has deep knowledge in several key areas, they can simultaneously move the needle on multiple business fronts, thus accelerating your growth. 

So, what’s the difference between a marketing agency and a hybrid growth team? 

They are similar in what they do but different in how they do it. 

With a typical B2B marketing agency, you’re hiring a team to do something for you – to get you from A to B – like a chauffeur. 

With a hybrid growth team like Lean Labs, you're hiring a team to do something with you – to show you how to navigate from A to B –  like a strategic co-pilot. 

Both of these teams have the same goal—growing your business. The difference is that when a hybrid growth team leaves, your team will have the necessary knowledge, systems, and skills to continue to grow without their help. 

Whether you choose a B2B marketing consultant, a B2B marketing agency, or a hybrid growth team, they should all embody the same core qualities if you want it to be a successful partnership. 

Let’s look a what those qualities are. 

1. Empathy - They Have a Customer-Centric Mindset

Empathy is one of the most underrated qualities in business, and any great B2B marketing consultant, agency, or hybrid growth team will have it in abundance. 

In the business world, being empathetic means having the ability to put yourself in the shoes of the potential customer. To be able to relate to their motivations, understand their challenges, and deliver relevant solutions to their problems.

In other words, you’re able to put the needs of your customer first.

Related Read: Customer Engagement Strategy: The 7 Best Ways to Drive High Engagement With Your Customers

When looking for a B2B marketing consultant to partner with, pay close attention to where they focus during conversations. A great marketing partner will be focused on how you can serve your customers as opposed to trying to convince you why you to do business with them.

Great marketers are relentless in their pursuit of understanding customer behavior. That understanding is only reached by asking the right questions. If you meet with a marketing consultant that seems overly curious about your business and customer’s needs, consider that a good sign. 

Once they understand your unique circumstances, an effective B2B marketing partner will then be able to tailor the conversation and solution to your specific situation, market, and goals. 

When you speak to a marketing consultant, agency, or hybrid growth team, here is a question you can ask to see how customer-centric they really are:

  • What type of content would you be excited to help us create? 

How they answer this question will help you understand if your customer’s journey is front of mind or not. 

If the B2B marketing consultant is interested in creating content that helps educate, teach, or otherwise enlighten your customers, you’re off to a great start.

RED FLAG:

The consultant, agency, or hybrid growth team you speak with seems more focused on winning your business than on serving your customers. They don’t ask many questions. Add an extra red flag to the mix if all they can offer are one-size-fits-all solutions instead of a custom game plan for your specific needs. 

2. Specialized - They Have an Area of Expertise 

If you wanted the best sushi, would you rather eat at Sukiyabashi Jiro, a restaurant owned by 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono, or at the international family restaurant that serves pasta, pizza, chicken, burgers…oh, and also sushi? 

If you’re anything like me, you want to eat the master’s sushi.

Like Jiro and his approach to making world-class sushi, great B2B marketing consultants will be dedicated enough to their craft to be known for their expertise.

For example, Lean Labs is known as a hybrid growth marketing team helping tech and SaaS brands 10x their growth. That’s what we do. 

So if you’re a tech or SaaS that wants to scale its growth, we should talk

Don’t stop your search until you find a marketing consultant, agency, or hybrid growth team specializing in your market that can help you reach your goals.  

Here’s a great question to ask a potential marketing partner to see whether or not they have deep expertise:

  • What do you do better than any other B2B marketer?

The right partner will be able to confidently tell you what they’re the best at. If they’re good at the thing you need them to be good at, you’re one step closer to a match. 

RED FLAG: 

The consultant, agency, or growth team you speak with claims to be good at everything! Nobody’s good at EVERYTHING! 

3. Efficient - They Have Systems for Everything

In his best-selling book Atomic Habits, author James Clear writes, “people don’t rise to the level of their goals, they fall to the level of their systems.” 

Your most ambitious goals need systems in place to support your efforts toward them. Without those systems, you can stretch and strain all you want, but it’ll be awfully hard to reach those goals. 

If you do manage to reach your goals without using the right systems, it will only be through grunt work, sheer will, and painstaking determination –  i.e., it’ll be a struggle the entire way. 

The same is true in business. 

A B2B marketing partner that has well-thought-out systems for every part of their marketing strategy will help you reach your business goals faster, smarter, and more efficiently  than one without systems. 

Here’s why:

  • They’ll know how long it will take to complete a given task. Each step in the task will be broken down into its most essential components, which will save time wasted doing unnecessary things.
  • Because they have a clear pathway towards the goal, they’ll be able to spot potential pitfalls or bottlenecks in the process before you get there. This allows you to work smarter and more efficiently. 
  • It will save you money. Proper systems allow you to focus on doing only the most important tasks most efficiently, thus saving time, which we all know “is money”.    

Here are three questions you can ask a potential marketing partner to stress test their approach to systems:

  1. What is your process for generating more qualified leads?
  2. How long will it take to accomplish, produce, or create X, Y, or Z? 
  3. How much will it cost to do _______? 

Be on the lookout for clear answers to each of these questions. 

A consultant, agency or hybrid growth team with systems in place for all key deliverables has a much better chance of helping you reach your most ambitious goals on time and within budget.  

RED FLAG:  

If you ask about the process, timelines, or cost and you get extremely vague answers…run for the hills! Accomplishing your business goals without strong systems in place will likely take more time and cost more money than you’re comfortable with.

4. Adaptable - Able to Course Correct on the Fly 

An effective B2B marketing consultant, agency, or hybrid growth team should function like a smart GPS in that they can adapt to a changing environment on the fly without causing a crash or completely changing your final destination. 

Perhaps there has been a recent budget cut or an internal leadership shift in your company. Or maybe the website analytics have told you that a certain marketing campaign isn’t working quite right. 

If you’re with the right marketing partner, these changes will be met as an opportunity to re-evaluate your strategy and make the necessary changes to ensure you still end up where you want to be rather than halting your growth. 

Yes, you might have to take an alternate route to get there, and it might add a few minutes to the drive, but it won’t be enough to cancel the trip altogether. 

To find out how your potential marketing partner might respond to a changing environment, ask them:

  • How fluid is your marketing strategy? 
  • How do you respond to changes in things like Google’s ranking algorithm?  
  • If social media was suddenly taken away, how would you respond?

Open-ended questions like this give you a great opportunity to hear the consultant, agency, or growth team’s philosophy regarding B2B marketing. Listen carefully for clues that they can adapt to a changing environment. 

RED FLAG:

If they struggle to cite an example where they had to adapt their strategy based on unforeseen circumstances, it could mean they’re too rigid in their process. 

5. Confident - They Have a Point of View 

If you’ve made it this far in the vetting process, you’re very close to finding the right strategic partner, but there’s one more trait you should keep an eye out for.

If you’re talking to the right B2B marketing consultant, agency, or hybrid growth team, they won’t always say “YES!” to your great marketing ideas. 

The best-of-the-best will actually say “NO” to some of them. Politely of course. 

It’s important to work with someone who can articulate what they do and why they do it without simply “yes manning” you the entire time. 

Challenge your potential marketing partner to answer this question:

  • What is the biggest B2B marketing mistake you see brands making? 

If they are excellent at what they do, they’ll have a few opinions on what not to do and be able to guide you to the next right step for your business. 

RED FLAG:  

The B2B marketing consultant, agency, or hybrid growth team offers little guidance regarding a strategic direction to take. They’ll say things like, “you just tell us what you’d like us to do, and we’ll do it.”  

“Go On a Date” With a B2B Marketing Consultant, Agency, or Hybrid Growth Team

Now that you know a few of the traits to look for, the right questions to ask, and some red flags to avoid, it’s time to speak to a few potential B2B marketing consultants, agencies, or hybrid growth teams. 

It’s advisable to speak to someone in person (or virtually) to make sure you align on core values and non-negotiables.

When you speak, just know that it might take a few tries before you find the right match. Don’t be afraid to speak to multiple people or companies before you make your final decision. 

If you like the idea of working with a hybrid growth – a team that can not only get you where you want to go but also teach you how to navigate there –  you can book a growth mapping session with the team here at Lean Labs. 

We’d be happy to discuss how we align on some of these core traits.  

Post by Admin
March 01, 2023

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