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    10 Brands That Turned Their Fans Into Content Collaborators

    By Eric Siu

    content-collaborate

    This post originally appeared on the Marketing section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Marketing.

    Tired of struggling to crank out the endless streams of content needed to appease today’s consumers? You’re in luck! There is an option for burned out business owners, and that’s user generated content. This technique, in conjunction with the growth of popular social media websites, allows modern businesses to delegate some of these brand-building ... Read More

    19 Essential Traits of Innovative Employees

    By Nick Santillo

    Unless your company is on the Fortune 500 list with thousands of applicants clamoring for a position, the odds are that recruiting, training, and retaining talented team members can be challenging.

    Similarly to how a person curates his Facebook profile to present only his best qualities, an applicant's résumé and interview only give you a hyper-curated snapshot of who he really is -- and we all know that when things get tough, people show their true colors.

    Read More
    Should Your Agency Get Into the Sales Enablement Game?

    By Jami Oetting

    Sales enablement is a fairly new term. And that means its definition is still evolving as the industry attempts to refine the who, what, and how.

    But its goal is clear: to help sales reps close more deals.

    And while agencies have typically stayed on the side of the line that includes brand awareness, creative campaigns, and lead generation, there is a growing need from brands that need more bottom of the funnel and sales support.

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    How to Nail Your Pricing and Build a More Profitable Agency [Free Ebook]

    By Arjun Moorthy

    Most agencies struggle to earn decent and consistent profit margins. More often than not, they also wrestle with pricing, which is at the root of the problem.

    Each day that you avoid nailing your pricing strategy (and sticking to it), is another day you keep your agency from earning that reasonable profit and growing at a desired pace. If you’re like many agency owners, you might say, “How I price depends on...”.

    Read More
    How Taking the Pulse of Your Clients Can Help You Manage Happiness

    By Jami Oetting

    Is the client happy?

    This one question keeps many an account manager up at night, turning over every phrase said and every email exchanged.

    If the client isn’t happy, that’s a problem. But the more concerning issue occurs when a client’s unhappiness completely surprises you -- when a client leaves before you have the chance to remedy and resolve the issue.

    Read More
    Are Your Inbound Marketing Client Engagements "Pulsing"?

    By Mike Lieberman

    Inbound marketing is still a new methodology. Yes, there are more people practicing it than ever before, but it's new territory in many ways.

    One of the most interesting aspects of inbound that we noticed recently was that there’s a pulse, heartbeat, or rhythm to an inbound engagement. When you’re active with over 40 inbound clients, you see patterns and trends that provide you insights into what needs to be improved over time.

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    The Psychology of Excitement: How to Better Engage Your Audience

    By Neil Patel

    This post originally appeared on the Marketing section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Marketing.

    Understanding psychology is a crucial part of being a successful marketer. What I’ve discovered is that the most powerful advances in content marketing don’t come from “hacks,” “tricks,” or “techniques,” but from science-backed psychology.

    One of the most powerful and interesting areas of psychology deals with excitement. How can content marketers get people more excited?

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    4 Types of 404 Error Pages That Surprise & Delight Visitors

    By Mike Del Cuore

    We’ve all seen them: the frustrating little pages that emerge from deep within a website when you’ve taken a wrong turn online. Maybe the developer forgot to remove that link when they deleted that blog post. Or maybe they updated the site and an extra sneaky character got into the link URL. Whatever the case, sending a website visitor to a 404 page is never a great idea.

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    Is Your Open Office Causing a Creative Crisis?

    By Jami Oetting

    Whenever Ben walks by, he comments on the design work prominently display on your monitor; he typically thinks you need to move everything to be center-aligned. Jane, with the constant cough, believes that the secret to convincing a client that an idea is brilliant is to speak above a normal decibel level. And Susan's mom packs her lunch, which usually includes some form of meat that smells like a hot dog wrapped in ham.  

    Sharing an open office can be "revealing" for employees in many ways, but the main goal of these no-wall floor plans is to increase creativity and collaboration.

    This is why so many agencies are renovating and revising their offices to create more open spaces. 

    Havas Chicago recently spent $10 million dollars to renovate its office, an 81,000-square-foot space that houses 450 employees. In creating its new digs, the company got rid of all offices and included more communal work spaces. The agency now occupies two floors, instead of three.

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    How to Create a Strong Brand in the Age of Inbound Marketing [Free Guide]

    By Angela O'Dowd

    If you’re in the marketing business, you might have noticed things have changed in the last few years around the subject of branding. How you brand your client's business is no longer just a matter of some clever, creative, and timely ad placements.

    Let’s take the first step of the inbound marketing methodology: getting found by potential customers. These days, a business is one of about eight gajillion results on a search engine -- and if it’s not one of the ones on the first page, it is essentially doomed.

    Read More
    What Are The Biggest Challenges Facing CMOs Today?

    By Jami Oetting

    The marketing landscape is being ripped up, revised, and revised again. Brands can no longer define one consumer "behavior," and they can't rely on one channel. 

    CMOs are tasked with not only keeping up with technology, platforms, and choices, but also staying ahead of the trends. In addition, they must develop new ways to keep their lead funnels full, manage campaigns, and maintain a strong brand. And many are doing it all with fewer resources.  

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    20 Lessons Learned From a Year of Running an Agency

    By Ross Beyeler

    One of our agency's core values is continual learning and self-improvement. It's something we've baked into our culture through a few key practices, but most notably, it shows in our meeting called Weekly Reflections. This is where we reflect on what we've learned during the course of the previous week.

    One year ago, we decided to start documenting these lessons, and we've turned this into a list of radical transformations, obvious yet neglected habits, ugly truths about our own shortcomings, and fun reminders for running a business.

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    Hook Your Audience With These 4 Storytelling Tactics

    By Todd Wolfenbarger

    Compelling stories have a strange hold on people. You can lose an afternoon to binge-watching your favorite show or experience a range of emotions while reading a novel. 

    The reason people love stories is biological. Stories put the world in perspective and help people see their place in it. As a marketer, a carefully crafted message allows audiences to relate to a brand’s story and keeps them coming back for more.

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    5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Invest in a CRM

    By Jami Oetting

    You understand why your agency needs to invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. The new business world is competitive, so you need a way to identify the right prospects, increase your sales productivity, and retain your internal knowledge when an employee leaves the company. 

    These are important pursuits, but it doesn’t mean you should go out and sign up for the first tool you find. You need to evaluate your options, understand what you really need in a platform, and decided how to implement the software into your current processes.

    Read More
    10 Examples of Captivating Data Visualization

    By Ross Crooks

    This post originally appeared on the Marketing section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Marketing.

    Data can be very powerful if you can actually understand what it's telling you. It's not easy to get clear takeaways by looking at a slew of numbers and stats -- you've got to have the data presented in a logical, easy-to-understand way.

    Enter data visualization. Using charts, graphs, and design elements, data visualization can help you easily explain trends and stats.

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    Replace the Outdated Annual Review With Continuous Feedback

    By Robert Glazer

    Ed Koch, the mayor of New York City throughout the 1980s, is a role model for managers everywhere. His managerial style never strayed from catering to his most important advocates: the voters. 

    A popular figure among everyday New Yorkers, Koch rode the subway, shook hands with everyone he met, and always asked, “How’m I doin’?” His policies came directly from the people, and the continuous feedback he received shaped the way he ran the city.

    Read More
    The 5 Stages of Specialization: How One Agency Survived the Transformation

    By Jami Oetting

    Spencer Powell grew up in the direct mail industry.

    His grandfather bought The Mail Room, a direct mail firm, in 1974. Then, his father purchased the company in 1996. Spencer spent summer breaks stuffing envelopes and watching movies.

    This experience is also why he thought the family business wasn’t all that interesting, a feeling echoed by many third generation family members and supported by the decline of family-run businesses: 30% of businesses survive to the second generation, and only 3% of businesses generate profits in the third generation.

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    Wearable Worries: Why Marketers Need to Take the Lead on Privacy Issues

    By Tim McMullen

    Even if we aren’t all cruising around on the hoverboards promised by Back to the Future Part II, there is no denying that the future is here. For evidence, look no further than the self-driving cars prototyped by Tesla and Google or the smartphone dongle that administers HIV tests in less than 15 minutes.

    This futuristic technology isn’t contained to the robotics and electronics industries. Marketing is right on their heels.

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    Start Your Next Web Project With a Content-First Discovery Phase

    By James Deer

    You’ve convinced your client to prioritize the content in the website redesign process. That’s the hard work. Now it’s time to show them why this matters and how it can inform a more user-friendly site.

    With a content-first approach, you need to start with a discovery phase. It prioritizes the content as the focus on the website, gives you key insights on what content needs to be created, and helps you understand how the brand's audience will actually use the site. This is all valuable information that should influence the design of the site.

    Read More
    15 Brilliant Examples of Interactive Print Ads

    By Jami Oetting

    Print ads were once the standard format for creative advertising.

    But advertising dollars are increasingly going toward digital outlets, and print advertising is now seen as an expensive, untrackable, traditional media format.

    You would think the category is void of innovative ideas, but that’s certainly not the case. In fact, many brands are finding new ways to merge the digital and physical world through magazine and newspaper ads. 

    Read More
    12 Ways Brands Can Collaborate With Influential Bloggers

    By Tamar Weinberg

    People are dealing with a lot of content online. And they don't always know whom they can trust. 

    According to Technorati, blogs rank among the top five “most trustworthy” sources of information on the internet.

    Because bloggers build a following during a long period of time and by producing interesting, quality images or articles, people begin to trust these sources. They relate to them and respect their opinions. 

    Read More
    5 Steps to Make the Writing Process Less Painful

    By Ross Beyeler

    Writing is hard. It takes time, concentration, energy, inspiration, focus, and all sorts of stuff that feels "painful." It's much easier to step into the office and knock out two dozen emails, which might still equate to 2,000 words, than it is to sit down and write a 1,200-word essay.

    It goes without saying, however, that content marketing is a critical component to positioning your company as a thought leader and relevant brand among your target audience. Why then, do so few business owners actually take the time to produce original content? Is it due to a lack of ideas? 

    Read More
    Going Green: How to Make a Brand Event More Eco-Friendly

    By Robin Lickliter

    Four years ago, you may have seen a giant peanut driving down the road. If you followed the peanut, you would have discovered the Planters NUTmobile, a refurbished Isuzu Series NPR biodiesel truck that carried Mr. Peanut from place to place in the greenest marketing effort Planters could muster.

    The truck ran on a blend of reused oils, sported solar panels that conformed to the shape of the vehicle, and had wind turbines hidden among the peanut-y contours. Much of the reconstruction was done with recycled materials, and all the paint was eco-friendly.

    Read More
    Battle of the Brands: Which Famous Rival Company Has Better Marketing?

    By Erik Devaney

    This post originally appeared on the Marketing section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to Marketing.

    Ba da ba ba ba, I’m lovin’ it.

    We can instantly identify their logos. We can hum along to their jingles. We’re on a first name basis with their mascots. We can repeat their slogans as mantra.

    How were big brands like McDonald’s able to attain such a ubiquitous status?

    Read More
    Why Agencies Need to Invest and Grow Their Talent In-House

    By Jami Oetting

    Once upon a time, the hallmark of the most successful advertising agencies was their deep pool of creative talent -- talent was as fiercely fought over and bragged about as one’s big brand accounts. Creative talent and the work they produced provided an agency’s differentiation.

    Today, agencies are struggling to stay relevant and current in this digital marketing reality. The Online Marketing Institute’s 2014 State of Digital Marketing Talent study shows that the biggest agency skill gaps are in mobile, analytics, and marketing automation. And only 8% believe their employees are strong in all areas of digital marketing.

    Read More
    10 Techniques for Coming Up With Creative Ideas Inspired by Ancient Philosophers [Infographic]

    By Jami Oetting

    Advertising is fundamentally persuasion, and persuasion happens to be not a science, but an art.

    This quote from Bill Bernbach highlights a core belief of rhetoric, which is the "the art of discourse" or the study of how to write, speak, and communicate in a persuasive, informative, and inspiring way. It is using linguistic techniques to influence behavior and emotions -- an essential skill in the marketing industry. 

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    5 Branding Tactics From Sharing Economy Pioneers

    By Susanna Arntz

    The explosive advent of the sharing economy has put the focus on empowering people who are trustworthy and good at what they do. As our economy continues to trend this way, branding and marketing strategies must echo the same focus on the empowered user through excellent user experience.

    Read More
    21 Expert Tips for Winning More Proposals

    By Jami Oetting

    "Send me a proposal."

    These words will send most agencies into a spin, working furiously to complete an insightful, in-depth document outlining what they can do for a client, how they can do it, and what it will cost.

    The problem is that many agencies regard the proposal as the first phase in the sales process, when in fact, it should be one of the final steps.

    A proposal is a document confirming previous discussions, not a conversation starter.

    Read More
    5 Inbound Marketing KPIs Clients Actually Care About

    By Katie Lantukh

    With inbound marketing, you can track a million things. Reporting, analysis of that reporting, and optimization recommendations for the next month or quarter can be all-consuming.

    It also means you could hand your client a 30-page report each month. If you did, you can be sure it would be quickly thrown in the waste bin. 

    Read More
    7 Brands That Changed the Face of Beauty Marketing

    By Jami Oetting

    The beauty industry was built by women and men from modest and lowly backgrounds. They were door-to-door sales people, wig makers, and chemists who grew their empires during a period of changing attitudes on beauty and women's role in public. 

    These were not skilled marketers.

    Read More
    Is Personalization Creepy? 6 Ad Execs Weigh In

    By Jami Oetting

    You would think that personalization of content and ads would be a welcome tactic, considering how many people complain about irrelevant advertising. 

    But many marketers are concerned about crossing the line -- of being seen as Big Brother. And not all customers are comfortable brands using their information in this way. A study by Ipsos found that 68% of U.S. smartphone users are concerned about having their online activity tracked in order for advertisers to serve them more targeted ads. 

    Read More
    Why RFPs Fail When Choosing a Marketing Agency

    By Anne Marsden

    The RFP process has been a tried-and-true tool for selecting and hiring vendors across the spectrum of services. But are they still the best means of selecting a marketing services provider? Not always. These days, many brands and agencies are questioning whether this formalized process, with all its time and effort, yields proportionally greater results than a less structured approach. Too often, RFPs make agencies feel like they are handing out their creative intellectual property for free or being used to help negotiate a better deal with an existing provider.

    Read More
    Create Client Chemistry and Close More Deals With Personality Profiling

    By Jami Oetting

    I’m an INTJ. A Gold-Green. A DC.

    These letters are the results of the personality tests I’ve taken at three different employers.

    Personality tests are not new. Plato and Hippocrates both wrote about the four “humours” or “moods.” In the 1920, the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator was developed, and more than two million people take the test each year. It's based on Carl Jung’s research that there are four main areas of personality preferences: introverted/extroverted, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving.

    The test reveals which of each dichotomy the person is dominant in, and it supposes that this combination should reveal things that help a person decide on a career path or build better relationships.

    Read More
    14 Tools and Resources for Conducting Market Research

    By Jami Oetting

    We are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to buying behavior. We know the location of our favorite products in the store, and we trust that they will work, year after year. In fact, Americans buy the same 150 items, which accounts for 85% of household needs. 

    People don't like change. And it is a battle to get someone to switch to an unknown brand. 

    Read More
    Who Will Win the Client-Agency Tug of War? [Infographic]

    By Jami Oetting

    You know the drill from those company retreats your boss meticulously plans each year. One side pulls, the other side pulls, and someone comes out a winner. (I'll take a tug-of-war competition over a trust fall anyday.)

    However, in the real world, this back and forth happens between clients and agencies all the time. And the truth is: your team memebrs are usually the ones crashing down into a pool of mud.

    Read More
    How to Manage and Retain Your Agency’s Strongest Personalities

    By Drew McLellan

    Working at an agency means you get to hang out with smart, creative people all day long. It also means you’re dealing with a lot of strong personalities -- imaginative, outspoken, and sometimes a bit too confident. When you step into agency leadership, you have to transition from collaborating with these personalities to managing them. 

    Outspoken team members are always difficult to lead, but they present a special challenge in an agency environment, where you rely on their original thinking and courageous attitudes. Reining in these personalities without breaking their spirits requires a delicate leadership balance.

    Read More
    Are They Worth It? 26 Qualifying Questions to Ask Prospects

    By Jami Oetting

    How many times have you pitched a potential client, or sent a proposal, only to get a “Thanks, we’ll think about it and get back to you” email or phone call?

    If you’re like most agencies, you pitch way more often than you close. And after awhile, you can become so discouraged you want to throw in the towel. Many agencies struggle with cash flow and thus leap at the chance to pitch anyone, hoping to get some business, any business, to keep the cash coming. And while we all need to put food on the table, is that really the best way to use what limited resources (time, energy, and money) you’ve got?

    Read More

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