Recently I had the opportunity to attend 'Agency Week' at Square2Marketing. Michael Lieberman, Chief Inbound Scientist of Square2Marketing, invited 10 HubSpot Partners to view his operations for an entire week.
Mike was a gracious host and it was a terrific week. Here's what I learned:
1. Inbound Marketing isn't done with a person, but with a team:
This is probably the biggest point of customer confusion when Agencies sell Inbound Marketing Services to a company. Many customers will say "Can't I just hire someone to do this?" The answer is no, not really.
If there was a way that one single person could create and implement an entire Inbound Marketing campaign, Square2Marketing would have figured out a way by now.
When you're hiring an agency, you're hiring a team of people with many different skill sets that complement each other throughout the process. You're also hiring a team where some people will be working on your campaign a lot for one month and then nothing for the next month. People are tasked as needed.
Square2 employs Marketing Strategists, Bloggers, Editors, Graphic Designer, Social Media Experts, Programmers, and don't forget, Managers. Someone has to be in charge of all of the people and all of the work.
It's very difficult, if not impossible, to hire one person to do all of that.
2. Your existing website isn't set up for inbound, so you have to change it:
"Blogging for response" is a phrase Michael Lieberman used many times. The same can be said of your website, when you're considering a new web design or messaging. To redesign your site for the sake of having a prettier website is wasted effort. You need a website that tells a story, and convinces the user to click to the next step.
You'd be suprised how much of a website redesign is NOT graphical, but content. Most importantly, what is your website saying? What is your company saying? Why does your company exist? What products and services do you provide and to whom? Is this easily understood after reading your website for 5 seconds?
Every action in Inbound has a purpose, and that is to get a response.
3. Any marketing without a strategy is wasted:
Strategy is everything in marketing. It needs to be done first and it needs to be done correctly. There are a hundred blog articles that are going to be written based on that strategy.
Square2Marketing has a great client kick off meeting where they very quickly can get a new customer on track with a well defined business and marketing strategy.
Most companies have a good business strategy but a bad marketing strategy. Which means, they know who they are why they have customers, but the story isn't on their website or blog.
They need someone to connect the dots from who they are to who they say they are.
4. There's no real tricks to inbound, just lots and lots of hard work:
Square2Marketing only sells 1 year engagements, and there's a good reason why. It takes a year to really get going with an Inbound campaign. There are no shortcuts. Lots of planning and teamwork are required to get real results, which Square2Marketing does time and time again.
Many of their customers do not currently have a marketing strategy or a website that produces leads. I was impressed with how many times they were able to take a company that was starting with nothing and make something happen.
But gone are the days of running a quick PPC campaign and gaming the search engines. There's no black hat in today's online world. Just lots of strategy, planning, content, lead nurturing and offer creation. Over and over again!
5. The HubSpot community is a friendly bunch:
You would think that there would be some competition when 10 HubSpot Partners get into a room. This is never the case, even when I went to Inbound last September. There was an incredible sharing of ideas, processes, client stories (good and bad) that still continues three months after the trip.
So why is this the case? Inbound Marketing is a growing trend that will continue to grow for years to come. There's a lot of clients out there who need Agency services. We're really not all competing for the same customers.
Most importantly, we're all following the Inbound process ourselves, and we don't all have the same buyer personas. In fact, everyone's buyer personas were different for their agency.
There's also a feeling that everyone wants the HubSpot platform and Inbound process to thrive and continue to evolve. To do this, Inbound needs lots of successful clients and partners.
"A rising tide lifts all ships" as Michael Lieberman says.