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How to tell if an agency understands your market

A couple of clients have recently forwarded to me, for comment, proposals they’ve received from internet marketing consultancies. These are consultancies who want to step in and help you make your website work better, by looking at every aspect of your web presence …it’s the next step on from “SEO agencies”. Of course this sort of thing is fascinating to me, and the proposals look quite enticing and professional. As regular readers will know, here at BMON we don’t do paid work on things like SEO and social media. We believe that companies (like yours) in the type of B2B markets that we’re in should do as much as possible in-house. That’s because it’s actually quite easy, but much more importantly, because it requires market knowledge that an outside agency is unlikely to have. Instead, we’ll advise you, free of charge, on how you can put your market knowledge to work.

But what if there is an agency out there who really “gets” the B2B sector, especially markets such as engineering and science? These markets are a long way removed from the hotels and footwear retailers which I suspect such agencies are more likely to understand. How would we tell that they “get” the market?

First of all, you can just ask them. How much do you know about valves, or spectroscopy, or temperature sensors? Nothing? How can you hope to rewrite the tags and titles on my web pages then, or get a blog going? How can you help me choose a list of searches to be targeting? How can you approach significant, related websites to get links if you don’t even know anything about my market?

Ah. You were actually going to get me to provide the information, weren’t you?

Also, see if they lead off with the pressing need you have to improve your social media presence. If that’s a priority for them, run a mile. I’m not saying that social media is something to be avoided, but in professional, technical markets, if it’s really the main thing you need to do, I’d say your work is 99% done. Any agency who routinely leads on social media in a proposal would almost certainly be more at home working in the consumer sector.

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