Choosing an Inbound Marketing Agency Is Like Adopting a Cat

Ashley Wilson-Rew

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It's true. A cat and an inbound marketing agency have a surprising amount in common.

  1. Cats and inbound marketing agencies are both pretty independent creatures.
  2. You can leave them alone for a few days and not return to a disaster.
  3. Some enjoy hugs, while others only make contact when they need something.
  4. They are self-cleaning.
  5. They can lower stress and improve productivity in the workplace.
  6. They're pretty darned cute when they're not eating all your house plants.

That said,

Making a choice based on how cute they are is a poor strategy.

Cute is skin-deep. Cute can be misleading. Cute can mask the devil incarnate.

Here are some better ways to choose a cat AND an inbound marketing agency.

How to "Vet" an Inbound Marketing Agency

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1.  Personality

Sure, they seem like a good fit, but what's going to happen when you seal the deal and make the commitment? Here are some questions to ask yourself about a potential agency:

  • Do you like the way they present themselves?
  • Do you like the voice/tone of their content?
  • Do you like the feel of their prior projects?
  • Are their previous customers satisfied?

You'll be working with them for the foreseeable future, since inbound marketing is a long-term investment. If you can't get along, it'll be difficult to bring the best out of each other. Businesses grow faster when everyone is excited to work together!

P.S. - You might not make the right decision right off the bat. A good inbound marketing agency will understand if it's just not working for you. 

2.  Independence

Kittens are more work than adult cats. Period. Many people don't mind this - it makes them feel like they can mold it into the perfect partner. Others prefer something they can "set and forget." Something that won't die if they leave for a weekend. Something already experienced with rules and expectations.

For an inbound marketing agency, independence is based on a number of factors, including:

  • Prior knowledge of your industry
  • Their ability to optimize & self-regulate
  • How involved you want to be in the process
  • How involved you need to be in the process

Some people won't mind if their agency is new to the industry, as long as they ultimately produce great results. Others want to hand over their marketing completely - this is easier if the agency already has industry experience. 

Every agency is different. Some agencies will require more "babying" than others. Some will thrive with barely any attention at all. Choose what works best for you and your needs!

3.  Responsibility

No matter how independent they might be, someone's going to have to check in on them. All partnerships take mutual understanding and hard work to be successful. Consider these things before making a commitment:

  • Who's taking care of costs and bills?
  • Who's the main contact for daily communications and emergencies?
  • How often will you check in with each other?
  • How involved will you/do you want to be in strategy implementation?
  • If there's an issue, who will resolve it?
  • Who else needs to be a part of the vetting process?
  • What are the terms of the contract? If you need to break it?

Someone should be dedicated to care and feeding. Otherwise you get the bystander effect: everyone thinks someone else is handling it. No one ends up handling it. Nothing gets done. Cat and agency are sad.

4.  History

When you adopt a kitty or hire an inbound agency, you'll want to know their history. Ask about any special needs. Do they have any problems getting along with other critters? How do they handle conflict and emergencies?

Look into an inbound agency's past projects. Have they worked in your industry before? How have past clients felt about their services? Beyond that - does their style resonate with you?

After all, the best indicator of future results is past results. 

Don't Make a Snap Decision!

No matter how perfect they might seem, take some time to explore all of your options and talk to different agencies. Some issues won't appear until you sign a contract. Others can be avoided through simple research and vetting.

Then again, sometimes you find true love at first sight. That's what happened to me:

15419535_10154825134058573_8442863592953429329_o.jpgSo cute. So cuuuuute.

I'd like to think there's a true love (in cat form or agency) out there for everybody. 

Good luck on your search. ♥

mchone industries

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