By Ryan Dellolio
It’s here, the moment that was bound to happen: your business needs a new website, product catalog, or application. Or, at the very least, a redesign of what exists today. You’ve explored the idea of keeping the project in-house but are open to hiring a digital partner. You’ve also started to research content management systems, agonizing over which makes the most sense for your B2B organization. This is going to be a bigger undertaking than you anticipated.
We’ve seen a handful of clients end up in a similar scenario. And while the sticker shock of hiring an agency may be enough to turn you the other way, the more complicated your content and functionality, the more likely you are to rack up costs going at it alone, ultimately paying more in the long run.
Then there is the technology angle: what technology is right for me? A lot of B2B organizations spend a lot of time anxiously dwelling over different CMS platforms, thinking it’s a make-or-break decision. That thinking, though, is a way of the past. At this point, major systems in this category, what we call the “B2B Top 3”—platforms from Sitecore to Adobe to Episerver—offer similar results, it’s just a matter of personal preference (or a draw from a hat). Rather than determining what CMS to use, your time—and money—is better spent on building a partnership that will yield actual results.
Choosing the right digital agency
Once you’ve decided that hiring a digital agency is the best approach for your business’ bottom line, there are a number of additional considerations to be made. Some are more obvious. For instance, you should have a complete understanding of your business needs and budget, so that you can clearly discuss them with prospective partners. Three other very important, sometimes forgotten, considerations include:
Does the agency focus on your industry?
If it does, ask them about past engagements, where they’ve found success and what challenges they’ve met. If it doesn’t, stay open to the partnership, but proceed with caution. At Shift7, for example, we focus solely on the Manufacturing industry. Because our focus is so niche, we understand its many nuances. The customer journey, for one, is very complex; we’ve seen other agencies fail to deliver because of this.
Do they have a track record of success?
This might seem like a no-brainer, but…do your research! Make sure the agency is credible. Check out their website. Ask for client testimonials and references. In B2B, we’ve seen agencies big and small who cannot “see around the bend” because they have not executed similar programs—you don’t want to fall victim to the same situation.
Am I hiring a vendor or entering a partnership?
A vendor supplies a product or service, most likely in exchange for money. Their stake in the game is small. A partner, on the other hand, builds a relationship, becoming an extension of your business. Their product or service is a component of the relationship, but it goes much deeper than that. At Shift7, we are interested in partnering with you to drive business outcomes—it’s about the journey, not the destination.
Regardless of the amount of revenue you bring in each year or the savviness of your in-house IT team (or lack thereof), building a B2B website is a daunting task. Make sure that you have the right team in place to get the job done. When you do, everything from the technologies you use to the ongoing enhancements you make will follow suit.