How to Choose a Michigan Inbound Marketing Agency

How to Choose a Michigan Inbound Marketing Agency

If you’re a company out of West Michigan looking to up your inbound marketing game, you’re probably looking for an agency to help you develop the right strategy. The problem is that with all of the agencies out there all promising the best results, it’s hard to know who can actually deliver, and who’s just trying to take your money. You need an agency that can actually perform, deliver results, and put your company at the top. So here’s 9 tips to help you cut through the smoke and mirrors, and find the right West Michigan inbound marketing agency for you:

1) Hire an Inbound Agency that focuses on your industry or field.

You wouldn’t have a general practitioner to perform a highly specialized surgery on your spine, would you? Probably not. You’d find a spinal surgeon who specialized in that specific surgery. The same principle applies for your website and inbound marketing strategy.

Your website is the backbone of your company, and your inbound marketing strategy is what draws people there, so you shouldn’t trust any agency that doesn’t have experience in your industry. If you’re a large B2B manufacturer, you should choose an agency that specifically works with B2B manufacturers: one that understands the B2B process, knows how your industry works, and understands your goals as a manufacturer. While there are probably plenty of general agencies out there that will take on your project, you’re better off with an agency that’s familiar with your industry.

2) Hire an inbound agency that understands your goals & objectives and has a plan to achieve them.

This one goes along with the previous point in the sense that to understand your goals and objectives, a good West Michigan inbound marketing agency should also understand your industry. From there, they should be able to sit down with you and talk about what you’re looking to achieve, and they should outline exactly how they’ll go about it. If you’re not sure what goals you’re looking to achieve, they should help you determine that before the commencement of any project.

3) Hire an inbound agency that practices what they preach.

The first thing you should look at when choosing a West Michigan inbound marketing agency is their website. Is it optimized for inbound marketing? Does it rank well on search engines? Does it look professional and showcase helpful content that targets their ideal client? Did it draw you in? Since you are in fact, one of their target clients, you’re a great example of the effectiveness of their strategy.

If their content offers drew you in, made you want to download more content, and eventually convinced you to contact them, then it’s a good sign that they’re following their own rules. A company that doesn’t produce results for their own website can’t be expected to produce results for you.

4) Choose an inbound agency with a proven & documented strategy.

Any agency will tell you how great their strategy is and how well it works, but do not trust anyone without legitimate proof. A good West Michigan inbound marketing agency should have a strategy that is documented and proven to deliver results for companies like yours, in the West Michigan area. Whether they provide case studies that showcase results they delivered for previous clients, or they have a written-out strategy that they’ve proven themselves, you should see some sort of evidence before you enter into any kind of business relationship with the agency.

5) Choose an inbound agency that publishes case studies with compelling results.

Like we mentioned previously, case studies are easily one of the best ways to tell if an inbound marketing agency is a good fit. First of all, the agency should have case studies. Second of all, those case studies should contain pretty compelling results. You need to be sure that this inbound marketing agency has produced actual results for other companies in West Michigan. If they don’t have tangible proof, you’ll want to keep looking.

6) Hire a true agency with a team that can keep up with demand.

Solo agencies may have their benefits in terms of price, but you still need an agency that’s big enough to handle the demands of a full inbound marketing overhaul. We’re not saying stay away from solo agencies, but you will need an agency team that’s got more than one or two people, because they just won’t be able to get the job done for you. There’s a lot that goes into a complete inbound marketing strategy, and you’ll need a team that’s big enough to handle the initial work, as well as the ongoing maintenance that occurs once everything is set in place.

7) Choose a team with a dedicated project manager.

We’ve found that one of the key components to success with an inbound marketing agency is a dedicated project manager. If you’ve had bad experiences before with agencies handling your website and inbound marketing strategy, this is even more important. You need a specific point of contact: a person that will keep you up-to-date with your project, and tell you exactly what is happening when. A West Michigan inbound marketing agency that has a dedicated project manager will be able to keep you in the loop at all times, so you know what the agency is working on, and when you can expect project advancements.

8) Hire an inbound agency shows you transparency and results.

The only way to know that an agency is actually doing their due diligence is to see their results. Measurement is key. And you can measure results by having access to their regular reports. A good West Michigan inbound marketing agency should keep things transparent, allowing you to see actual results, so that you’re aware of the benefits of the agency and their strategy. An agency that agrees to keep you in the loop is trustworthy, and certain to be working in your best interest.

9) Hire an inbound agency with friendly, responsive and communicative staff.

There are all kinds of inbound marketing agencies in West Michigan that will tell you they’re the best, they have the only true, proven strategy, and that they’re better than everyone else. It’s best not to take a bunch of blustering and shameless self-promotion at face value. Recognize that whoever you hire will be who you’re working with throughout the entirety of your project.

If you don’t like the agencies employees, or if the agency can’t deliver on their promises, it’s going to be a long road. Make sure the agency you hire is one you can get along with, and one that truly generates results. Their team should be responsive, friendly, and readily willing to communicate with you. The agency itself should be capable of providing what they say they will. Big egos need not apply.

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Online Research – The Undeniable Reason That Inbound Marketing Works for B2B

Online Research – The Undeniable Reason That Inbound Marketing Works for B2B

As an inbound marketing company with expertise in B2B manufacturing, there are a few things we’ve come to recognize as absolute truths with B2B sales and marketing. One of these absolute truths is that everyone does online research before making decisions. By everyone, I mean everyone in the world. We all do it. We’ve heard time and time again from manufacturing companies their customers “aren’t online.” That’s complete bull-sugar.

The fact of the matter is that while you may be likely to retain your current customers, you’re not going to get new ones (or better ones) by just sitting around. And telling your sales team to “hit the ground running” and “pound some pavement” isn’t going to get you the results you want either. Why?

Because your new clients aren’t out on the road, or a phone call away. They’re online. Doing research.

But, you don’t have to take our word for it:

According to a 2014 study done by the State of B2B Procurements, 94% of business buyers conduct some sort of online research before they make a purchase. That’s irrefutable evidence that your customers are in fact, online. The study also showed that:

  1. 77% of those B2B buyers use Google for their research
  2. 84% of them check out business websites before buying
  3. 34% visit 3rd party websites for unbiased information
  4. 41% read the user reviews

These stats make it pretty clear that people want to gather all the information they possibly can before they call your sales team. They know that they need your general product, that’s not the issue, they just need to know specifically which one they need, and from what company. A B2B manufacturing purchase is no small investment, and people are taking the time to make educated decisions based on the information that is available to them.  And that information is sought after on the internet.

Your best potential clients are Googling whatever product they need, figuring out everything they can about it, and then, as the last two statistics show, comparing prices and quality before making their final decision. They want to know they’re getting the best product for the best price, and they’ll do extensive research (at least 79 days worth of it according to this study) to ensure they’ve made the right decision before they finally make a purchase.

What these stats are telling us is this: Your buyers are empowered. They know what they need, they just want the information to help them make the best educated decision for a solution. Your buyers don’t want to be sold on anything, they want the information to make their own decision.

That means they don’t want blogs or posts that tell them how great your company’s product is and how well it will work; that’s amateur infomercial content that won’t get you anywhere. Instead, they want the facts. They want complete, unbiased information that tells them how to troubleshoot their machine, what size machine they need for their factory, or what product will function best for their operations.

But why the different marketing stance? And when did your buyers become so empowered?

Consider who is making these purchasing decisions today. True, it used to be old, senior executives of the company who had the power and the ability to say “I want that product, and I want it in x amount of time, no matter the cost.” Then they grabbed their Rolodex and started making calls. But what you need to know, as a B2B manufacturer in 2016, is that your target market isn’t middle-aged men with business cards on a Rolodex anymore.

Who are they then?

Google conducted a study with Millward Brown Digital in 2014 that focused just on B2B buyers. They wanted to know who was buying, how they bought things, and what their buying process was.

One of the most relevant discoveries to you, is that nearly half of the people responsible for the B2B buying decisions were millennials. And what do we know about millennials?

They’re digital natives.

They grew up with technology in their hands. By the time they made it into the workforce, they already had Blackberrys and were firing off emails like they were born to do it. And let’s face it, they were.

Millennials are the most tech savvy generation in the workforce, and they’re taking over as B2B buyers. Google’s study shows that they research, research, research, do some price comparison, and then research some more, beforChildren_at_school_(8720604364)e they even consider making a call to a sales person.

So, what we’re trying to get at here, is yes, your customers are online. In fact, they’re all over the internet. The Millennial generation now makes up the largest percentage of B2B buyers, which means they deserve your attention. And if you don’t have useful digital content for them, they’re not going to come to you.

The old marketing plan used to be, “get your name out there, make sure people are aware of your brand, and hope they call you.” We suggest that you don’t hope. Although we do appreciate the positive mental attitude, you can’t build a business on hope alone. Don’t hope that someone will call you. Know it.

And how do you know that people are going to call you?

By generating compelling content that is useful to your buyers.

The research shows that people don’t want to be sold to anymore. Your buyers are empowered business men and women, who want to come to their own conclusions with the help of great, informational content.  

That’s why content marketing works.

People are doing online research, and when you come up with all kinds of great content that helps them decide what products are right for their company, then you become a trusted authority.  

When people trust you to provide decent, helpful, informational content, they’re more likely to purchase your product, because you’ve nurtured that relationship. They know you have their best interest at heart, and are working to sell them a quality product that will improve and make their lives easier, not just for your own personal gain.  

Sound too touchy-feely for a B2B manufacturer?  

That’s okay, we’ve got examples.

You’ve heard of John Deere, right?

Perhaps the largest manufacturer of farming and agricultural equipment, John Deere makes just about every kind of large machine that works outdoors: from tractors to combines to lawn mowers. But the real question is, why have you heard of them?

(If you’re guessing we might be hinting towards content and inbound marketing, you’re right)

Believe it or not, John Deere started content marketing over 100 years ago. John Deere’s son, Charles, started a 14049575075_f81e3d6de8_bmagazine called The Furrow back in 1895, not as a catalogue to sell their equipment, but as a genuine farming magazine, dedicated to helping other farmers better their business.  The magazine had tips and articles on farming, like how to grow your farm, and how to make a larger profit in the agricultural industry. Now, more than 100 years later, The Furrow is still circulated to millions of customers on six continents, and is translated into more than 30 languages.  And without even so much as mentioning themselves in their magazine, John Deere has become the leader of the agricultural industry.

And honestly, that’s the trick.  In all of their magazines, through hundreds of years of publications, John Deere has probably mentioned their own equipment a handful of times. Because endless self-promotion doesn’t do anything for your customers. The Furrow educates and informs its readers in an unbiased way, and those millions of customers respect John Deere for that. Though John Deere foots the bill for the magazine, it is completely independent of the publication itself, and yet one third of all of the millions of readers of The Furrow buy John Deere.

If that’s not a testament to content marketing, we don’t know what is.  

John Deere published the best, most informative content that was relevant to their target market. Readers appreciated the honesty, and really appreciated the lack of selfish product placement. And because John Deere had the best unbiased content that spoke to their potential clients, they got the business anyway. No hard-selling techniques, no cold calling, just proven content marketing.

And this business model works across the board.

We’ve proven to you by now that your customers are researching online voraciously. With 94% of your potential customers searching for information about you and your product on the internet, you’ve got a massive opportunity to target customers through content creation. You know they’re doing the research, you just have to provide the information that fuels that research process.

The facts is, your best potential buyers are online. They’re tech-savvy, and they’ll put in the time and the effort to do months of online research deciding which big-ticket item they want from your B2B. To reach those buyers, you need to develop quality content that addresses their pain points and feeds them the information they’re looking for. When buyers keep coming back to your content for reference in their research, and to help them make major purchasing decisions, you become their adviser and the company they trust to purchase the product they need.

Inbound marketing works. And if you’re looking to make it work for your B2B manufacturer, we can help. Check out the case study below to see how we helped one West Michigan B2B get on the first page of Google Search Results.

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