Here are the Most Frequently Asked Questions for the Late-Stage Buyer

Part Three of Three

There are many options when it comes to purchasing marketing services. In this third and final segment about the buyer’s journey, I will answer the most frequently asked questions about how to make the right vendor selection. During part one, we discussed what marketing is and isn’t. With clear definitions in hand, we were able to cover what marketing services can do for B2B companies in part two. Now, we are rounding third and heading for home plate! Your goal is to score the winning run. And you will do just that by carefully considering the most frequently asked questions by the late stage buyer of marketing services.

Q.  Are there specific questions I ask during the interview process?

A.  Yes! The following ten questions will give you great insight into whether the marketing firm you are interviewing is the right fit:

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. What are your areas of specialization?
  3. Have you worked with companies in my industry?
  4. What would your clients say are your firm’s strengths?
  5. If others will be working on our account, tell me about their experience and what valuable skills will they bring to our firm?
  6. Describe the daily, weekly or monthly communications between our firms to ensure that the marketing program is on track.
  7. Describe an example of an integrated marketing program that you led and how did you measure results.
  8. What would you expect our role (as you client) to be in the marketing process?
  9. Describe an unsuccessful client engagement and what went wrong.
  10. In working together, what are the keys to achieving a successful outcome?

Q.  How do I know if I’m getting a fair price?

A. This is a tricky question as many factors come in to play when pricing marketing services. Here is some insight into what should, in theory, make marketing fees higher or lower:

  • Is your B2B company receiving strategic work, which would including positioning, the selection of target markets and planning?
  • If yes, you should expect to pay higher rates (between $175 – $250) per hour as it requires the expertise of senior-level marketers.
  • Is this a short-term project or consulting assignment or is your company planning on outsourcing its marketing for the long-term?

Generally speaking, marketing vendors that do one-time consulting or project work tend to charge higher fees as there is a learning curve involved with getting to know your company and/or industry and there isn’t the promise of recurring revenue. Outsourced marketers are typically willing to keep fees lower as they know they will recoup this upfront investment of time over a longer period.

While there is not a magic formula, the total marketing budget, including marketing services as well as other costs such as printing, for most B2B companies will be approximately 2-6% of top-line revenue.  If your firm has never really done proactive marketing and/or is looking to ramp-up marketing aggressively, you will be at the higher end of this range.

Q.  Should my marketing services provider have experience with my industry?

A. Yes! There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to marketing especially in the digital era. Strategies, tactics and tools that are right for a B2B services company will be quite different than for one that sells products. For example, Inbound Marketing, which involves pulling prospective customers to your firm’s Web site through providing content of value, is a highly effective long-term marketing strategy for professional services providers. It may not be the right fit for a commoditized B2B product company.

Q.  What should I expect to see on a proposal for marketing services?

A.  First and foremost, a proposal for marketing services should give you assurance that the provider has listened to your B2B company’s goals, objectives, challenges and opportunities. You don’t want a “off the shelf” approach as no two firms are alike.

As a buyer, your will want to see a detailed scope of what is being provided that includes the breakdown of certain processes.  For example, if a positioning study is being proposed, you will want to generally know the steps involved. That way, your B2B company will have a clearer understanding the marketing service provider’s time investment.

You will want to see a detailed breakdown of fees. If you are presented with one lump figure, red flags should go up everywhere!  Bios for the specific professionals that will be working on your account should be included.  Ensure that your team has marketing education and experience. And finally, your B2B company will want to see 3-5 references listed that are in the same or a similar industry.

I hope this three part series addressing the most frequently-asked questions of early stage buyers, middle stage buyers, and late stage buyers when purchasing marketing services has been helpful and your B2B company is now better prepared to explore what marketing can do for you and leverage its power! Please leave a comment below if you have any additional questions, commentss, or tips about purchasing marketing services!