A few months ago, a light bulb went on in my head when my business partner and I sat down over lunch with a Managing Partner of a St. Louis private equity firm.

He had discovered our industrial marketing agency, Gorilla 76, in a local business publication and recognized right away that the clientele of our two companies (middle market, high-growth-potential manufacturing businesses) were in near-perfect alignment.

And just as well aligned was the value our respective firms work hard deliver to our clients – sustainable business growth. We just happen to deliver that value from different places.

The value a smart private equity firm brings to the table

Generally speaking, private equity firms help the companies in which they invest with some combination of the following:

  • Big picture strategic planning
  • Identification and pursuit of new markets
  • Capital access in the form of equity and/or debt
  • Development of the management team
  • Recruitment of key employees
  • Provision of leadership through a seat on the Board
  • Operational support
  • Identification of M&A opportunities

But one glaring hole that tends to exist within the walls of these firms – a modernized marketing and lead generation strategy that will organically create business development opportunities for their investments. And this is exactly where a marketing agency partnership begins to make sense.

The value a smart marketing agency brings to the table

Marketing for business-to-business companies today is drastically different than it was ten years ago. Whereas B2B marketing was once an unmeasurable jungle of expensive print ads and fancy direct mailers, today we operate in a world of tight budgets that require data-driven, smart marketing decisions to be made with every step.

Simultaneously, buying power has begun shifting to younger demographics who are gathering more and more of their information online during the buying process. And more and more of that information is becoming readily available to those buyers every day.

In recent years, these trends have resulted in a major shift among B2B marketers away from traditional marketing tactics and toward the likes of:

  • SEO (search engine optimization) and content marketing
  • Online lead generation
  • Email marketing, marketing automation and lead nurturing

Here are a few supporting data points:

  • 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search (Google)
  • 66% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority (Hubspot)
  • 53% of marketers say half or more of their budget is allocated to lead generation  (BrightTALK)
  • 39% of B2B marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend in 2017 (Content Marketing Institute)

How to get started with a marketing agency partnership

If you believe some synergies might indeed exist between your private equity firm and a results-driven marketing agency, here’s how you can put that kind of partnership in motion:

1. Identify a marketing agency whose audience aligns with yours

Just as the previously-mentioned private equity firm’s mid-sized manufacturer client base directly aligned with that of our marketing agency, you need to find your equivalent. Not every agency will be the right fit for you and your investments.

If your firm specializes in growing healthcare companies, Google search “healthcare marketing agencies.” If you specialize in growing OEMs and industrial service providers, Google search “industrial marking agencies.”  You get the idea.

2. Make the agency prove why they’re the right fit

Confirm that your goals align. Confirm that the agency’s approach is focused on bottom-line growth for their clients, just as yours is. Ask them to walk you through their pricing structure, as well as their processes for generating website traffic, leads and sales for their clients. Ask them to share case studies with tangible results as proof of sales-qualified lead generation and resulting revenue growth for their clients. Make sure their personalities mesh with yours and most importantly, those of your clients.

3. Give the agency a trial run, but hold them accountable

Once you feel confident, make the introduction to one client who you believe will benefit most from their services. Hold your agency accountable for results, just as your client holds you accountable. Everything is measurable today, so assure they’ve clearly stated what key performance indicators (KPIs)  they’ll use to measure success. Ask for monthly reports accompanied by brief analyses of the results. And meet quarterly with your agency to work through more detailed reports and to assure they’re tracking toward those KPIs.

If the results are there, you may have identified a partner who brings a brand new value proposition to your current and future investments.

Need a hand finding the right marketing agency?

Our industrial marketing agency, Gorilla 76, serves a very specific audience – mid-sized manufacturing and industrial sector companies. So we may or may not be the right fit for your client base. If not, we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction so you can find the right agency partner. If you’d like schedule a short consultation, click here or fire me an email at joe@gorilla76.com. And in the meantime, consider taking a look at a few case studies that demonstrate how we’ve driven tangible lead generation results for our manufacturing and industrial sector clients.