Choosing strategic partners for your business is one of the most important steps you take to ensure the overall success and health of your company. Whether you’re already invested in HubSpot marketing and sales or considering the possibility, choosing a partner agency makes or breaks that investment.
With more than 2,500 HubSpot partner agencies, not all are created equal. Beyond the HubSpot partner directory, how do you choose the right agency for your business beyond budget considerations?
Here are our top five tips for evaluating a potential HubSpot agency partner:
A Proven Track Record
Do awards tell the whole story when it comes to selecting a HubSpot partner agency? They certainly don’t detract from that firm’s success, but we consider awards to be skin-deep. Instead, look for customer case studies with third-party validation. If a firm posts a few photos and short summary of their work, be wary.
Case studies reflect the challenge the agency solved and the tactics they deployed. Strong case studies include before-and-after analytics that show tangible growth and real-world achievements. Be wary of vanity metrics, such as number of likes or only percentages.
These success stories should be comprehensive and include written client testimonials, which are great. Professional video testimonials are a stronger validation of success.
Also, take notice of the firm’s most recent work. Partner with a firm that consistently performs at a high level, not an inconsistent firm that got lucky once or twice.
Take a look at the agency’s history. How long have the been in business? How long have they used HubSpot? What percentage of their clients use HubSpot? Are they a tiered agency? If so, for how long? These questions give you a firm foundation to determine if the agency you’re considering is experienced in HubSpot and has a proven record of driving consistent results for clients.
HubSpot As A Personal Tool
Think about other partners you choose for your business: An accountant, lawyer, business development consultant. Would you be comfortable using their services if they said they didn’t trust their company to perform the same function? In the marketing industry, agencies fall into the “ cobbers kids who don’t have shoes” paradigm. They do wonderful work for clients, but don’t apply the same best practices for themselves.
Why is this important?
Look for a marketing agency that’s constantly innovating and trying new things with their own investment. The best agencies practice what they preach and try new ideas on themselves before rolling it out to clients.
For example, before offering live video services to clients, Illumine8 built a program on Facebook and YouTube for the agency brand. Two shows were born: Monday Marketing Q&A and Illumine8 After Hours.
After working through a few technical glitches, we know exactly which equipment works in different applications, which allows us to stream consistent, high-quality broadcasts. With a solid product, we take our set-up on location for special episodes.
You should be able to quickly tell on an agency’s website if they practice what they preach. If they offer social media services, look at their social media. Is it consistent, timely, and relevant? If they offer content creation services, look for blogs and offers. If they offer industry specialization, look for thought leadership.
Do you want a doctor who’s trying an experimental surgery to perform it on you? Don’t let an agency play Operation on your company.
Marketing agencies are divided into two categories: Generalists and specialists. A generalist agency claims to be good at everything in every industry. This is a red flag because no one is good at everything.
Generalist agencies are typically less expensive because their talent doesn’t reflect the depth needed to bring industry or craft expertise to the table.
If you’re looking for a marketing, sales, or business development partner, consider your existing tools, including your CRM, marketing software, or industry-specific applications. Your marketing partner should be familiar and experienced with most of these tools.
Check for certifications, partner status, and other baseline qualifiers that divide the field of contenders.
With a list of qualified partners, you should consider experience. Look for companies that specialize in certain industries and have a depth of knowledge in your business.
When evaluating an agency, look for the following :
- Case studies that reflect success with businesses similar to yours
- Industry events or certifications outside of marketing
- Thought leadership in your industry through speaking engagements
- Content that reflects a deeper understanding of your industry
Choosing a marketer that understands your business means you get more than a marketing agency. You get consultancy that leverages marketing for your business.
A partner who understands your industry onboards faster, innately understands your challenges, and drives results faster. You hit the ground running instead of paying for a generic agency to learn your business.
You don’t consider your business to be interchangeable with your competitors, so why settle for generic marketing partner?
Local search is extremely important for geographic-based businesses, but your agency search should't be limited to your local market. With video conferencing, data gathering, and Internet magic, we truly operate in a global marketplace.
This is great for your HubSpot partner search. You may not be able to find a local partner that excels in your industry, but consider agencies in your closest regional area, timezone, country, or the world as the next best alternative.
Opening a global search opens more budget opportunities to you. Agencies in suburban or rural areas don’t have the same overhead price as those in cities, which passes along a potential cost savings. Gone are the days of the best talent only available on Madison Ave.
Still uncomfortable with a long-distance relationship? During the agency interview, consider the following questions:
- Who’s my daily point of contact? When are they available?
- How often do we schedule meetings and touch points?
- What’s your approval process for work?
- What format can I expect for meetings? Do you share an agenda or slide deck?
- Who follows up after a meeting? Will I be provided with a written record?
- What happens in an emergency situation?
- What’s the onboarding process? How long does it take?
- What does the first 30, 60, or 90 days look like?
- Do you have other long-distance clients? May I contact them, or do you have testimonials or case studies?
If the agency provides you with solid answers to these questions, distance won’t be an issue.
Culture fit is important to evaluate with any consultant, strategic partner, or vendor. All potential partners for your company should align with your company’s internal values.
If your company values speed and the potential partner agency values perfection, it creates friction down the road. If the agency values failing fast and your company demands perfection, you’ll constantly be disappointed with the quality of work.
Questions to ask during the agency interview process include the following:
- What are your company’s internal values?
- Describe your ideal client.
- How do you evaluate success?
- Which do you choose: Quality or quantity?
- How would you describe your company culture?
- What’s your employee retention rate?
These questions help you form an idea of what the agency is like on the inside. Happy employees equal happy customers. If the firm is experiencing turnover, operational issues, or a weak value system, chances are that team will bring a lot of baggage with them.
Looking for more ideas on how to leverage a marketing partner? Download our Leveraging Agency Partners eBook for a more comprehensive look at how the right agency for your business drives success: