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7 Tough Client Questions That Can Score Marketing Agencies A Steady Flow Of New Biz

Inbound Marketing
August 15, 2017

We’ve been working our tails off in this business for years and we don’t mind sharing some hard-lessons with our fellow marketers.

What we’re about to tell you is going to make the whole giant overwhelming mess of speaking to new clients way easier.

If an agency goes 7 for 7 on these questions, they’ll surprise even the most discerning client veterans. You know, the ones that sound like they know more about marketing than you do. Yikes! Let’s get started before another one calls you!


Question #1:

Oh, you want to know my marketing budget, eh? Alright then, two can play at that game. What should my marketing budget be? Eh? Tell me that!

So they called you out! Right, calm down, they can hear you breathing heavily over the phone. Good? Okay. This is a valid response to the equally valid “What’s your budget?” question that every agency should be asking. If you’re not expecting this follow up from a client it could land as a square right hook to your face. Ouch.

Listen up, answering this is actually a cinch. You’ll start off with,


“Well sir/madam, we need to know as much about your business as possible to find that out. Now, based on your industry, and based on our client averages within that industry, we’d say it’s something around X% and Y% percent of your gross revenue for the year. Of course, that’s your total marketing budget. And on average our clients spend X% of that total marketing budget with our agency. Again, it really depends on what your needs are.”

You get the picture. Make sure you know enough about your client to actually answer these questions. And if you don’t, find it!

Question #2: 

How do you propose we measure the success of our company’s marketing efforts? And don’t say ROI.

Yes, ROI matters, absolutely. But let’s get more nuanced, shall we? The first step is to look at metrics from a services standpoint. You don’t measure content marketing or social media marketing efforts the same way as you would, say, a digital Pay Per Click campaign, or an article in a published trade journal.

Each service will have its own set of metrics. Know those metrics, and follow up with questions of your own like,


“Are there any Key Performance Indicators that you’re focused on right now?”

Every business measures success differently, so it’s important to know what they think is important while avoiding yapping about average ROI.

Question #3:

How will your marketing strategy address larger objectives such as revenue growth and customer retention?

Here’s where you yap about average ROI! The client really wants to get a bird’s eye view of your entire marketing strategy based on their budget. Real world examples and previous client revenue gains should be provided here as averages. That’s the biggest thing—keep your client averages close, and have a range of averages based on budget.

Question #4:

Do you have many clients within my industry that approximate my budget, and can you provide examples of how you helped them?

If you answered question #3 like a boss, they won’t even ask this question to you. Again, it’s all about numbers and more importantly, client specifics.

Talk about how your clients are growing, and even better, what they’re investing in as they grow in order to grow even more. Don’t have clients in that particular industry? Find out what the average is from someone else. Be ready with success stories on hand for all your major services and you’ll ace this question.

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Question #5:

Yeah, about those results…
Do you have a time frame on those?

No marketing agency brews up results for their clients in days or weeks. You know this. Your clients should at least sort of know this (at least the ones you really want as clients.) Some objectives take months before they pay for themselves. Given, there is such a thing as low hanging marketing fruit, and you should have a “Low Hanging Fruit List” prepared specifically for this question.

Just do go overboard here. Low hanging fruit is great, but you also need to talk about longer term objectives, based perhaps on a quarterly, bi-yearly, and yearly basis. Tell these clients about when you send your reports out, and that different services have different timeframes of success (goes without saying, but know those timeframes!)

Question #6:

Do you use freelancers? How often?
What’s their experience level?

Unless you’re outsourcing your entire service list abroad, you shouldn’t fear answering this question. 

Make sure you tell those clients why that work isn’t being done in house, how much they’re saving because of it, and what the quality level of the work is. Tell them that you’re saving them a great deal of time since all of these services are already sourced for them.

And finally, tell them that your agency has a few core competencies that it strives for, and because it believe so highly in quality, it outsources to other high quality providers for everything else. Say all that to a client and they’ll sign the dotted line. 

Question #7:

What do I get for my budget?

Have an itemized list ready of what clients can receive within a certain budget range. If you are a customized shop, the correct answer will depend on what will generate the most impact fastest, based on the agreed upon goals.

This is a smart question that all prospective clients should be asking. So it makes absolute sense that the agency knows how to answer this. 

The Takeaway

Some of those questions really are tough. If your agency is new, you may not be able to answer them in the absolute best manner for every client. That’s okay.

Focus on who you can help, create a system for keeping track of client progress, and over time, you’ll wow prospective clients with your ridiculous knowledge on the subject.
The first step is to look at metrics from a services standpoint.
Real world examples and previous client revenue gains should be provided here as averages.
Have an itemized list ready of what clients can receive within a certain budget range.
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Inbound Marketing

August 15, 2017 Matt steers the ship in marketing strategy and operations, working closely with Adhere’s team of eclectic and talented individuals combined with client C-suite executives to transform how B2B organizations connect with their audience and deliver their products and services to the marketplace in a way that is anticipated, welcomed, and repeated. See All articles
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