Mostly, we discussed the way marketing firms need to change their internal processes. We're not saying this shift is easy; it's hard to change your core processes and the DNA you've developed over decades. But even harder still is changing the way a company interacts with the outside world. For firms who want to fully embrace
the potential of inbound marketing
and truly deliver the value of inbound marketing to their clients, here are 6 more truths that have become evident to us:
1. Sales is embraced.
Sales is not a dirty word to successful inbound marketing agencies. Prospecting will no longer be relegated to partners' cocktail partners. Sales in the agency of the future is the process of helping prospects determine whether the agency can help them and how much they can help them for the amount of money they can invest. Even more importantly, successful inbound marketing agencies are equally comfortable selling to the VP of Sales, CEO and CFO. They serve their clients by delivering a measurable ROI. They're leading the alignment between oft-jilted sales and marketing lovers in their clients' organizations and providing actual revenue growth.
2. Repeatable and scalable processes are continuously refined.
Repeatable processes enable a company to scale their revenue. Unfortunately, marketers are usually not methodical. They usually shun doing things twice the same way. Agency sales processes and client management processes are usually ad-hoc processes. And worse, most agencies reinvent the wheel every time they take on a new client. Scripts, software, checklists, audit trails, project management systems and CRM systems all create economies of scale. They make training employees easier, create the ability to identify inefficiencies, establish best practices, etc. Most importantly though, they make improvement possible. Which in turn will help you ultimately deliver more value to clients. If your agency doesn't have a well-defined methodology and process, your clients will find it elsewhere.
3. Marketing software is mandatory.
In a few short years, building websites and constructing dashboards from scratch will be like designing and building your own car. Your mechanic might be able to build a car, but didn't Henry Ford prove that factories were the smarter way to build things that require only a minor amount of customization? A landing page is a landing page is a landing page. Are you still manually analyzing clients' competitors' inbound links? Are you hacking together five solutions to
monitor social media
? How do you know what blog articles are performing best? Are you even measuring visitor to lead and lead to customer conversion rates? Software is a marketer's best friend. If you're not bundling the right software into your client proposals, your competitors will be. Software is your chance to demonstrate your transparency and establish that you're in it for the long haul with your client. If you don't recommend it, your clients will buy it without you. Then, you'll be relegated to a Web mechanic instead of a trusted marketing adviser.
4. Transparency is unquestioned.
Successful agencies are very transparent about their processes and results. They secure renewals based on their results, so they're secure enough to share "how" they deliver value.
HubSpot service providers
have actually agreed to let us publicly publish a 0 to 100 grade for them. The grade is calculated based on how successful their HubSpot customers are. In a time when way too many companies still pay thousand dollar monthly retainers to receive monthly SEO reports and some lame confusing explanations about esoteric and usually inconsequential SEO "techniques," it's refreshing that our partners are putting it all out there for the world to see. This kind of transparency is an entirely new world, but it will become the norm.
5. Tough love is doled out.
An agency needs to fire clients who don't participate equally in their own success. Agencies are as much service providers and consultants as they are coaches. To be a successful coach, you need to know what motivates your clients and demonstrate how inbound marketing can help them overcome their challenges and achieve their objectives. If you can't do that, pick up a copy of
How to Win Friends and Influence People
and make these books your Bible.
6. Clients are empowered.
Once a week, I run into an agency that says, "My clients just want me to do it all for them. They don't have time." In a world where buyers start their research on social media sites and blogs, our customer data shows that a completely outsourced approach no longer works. Agencies usually pitch this because they are insecure about the value they provide. These agencies want their clients to be dependent on them for everything. They want to bill for everything. In 1998, this was the right kind of agency to hire; Internet marketing was nearly impossible then. But with the popularity of content management systems, companies shouldn't pay someone $100/hour to make site edits. With the importance of authenticity in blogging and on social media sites, it is absolutely positively impossible to completely outsource this stuff effectively. An agency that doesn't tell their prospects, "This requires in-house effort from your in-house thought leaders," is lying. An agency that doesn't know how to
predict and measure the ROI
of time spent in-house, shouldn't be selling hours.
Are you already treating clients this way? Are you still fighting these inbound marketing best practices? Why? Why not?