If You Thought You’d Be An Inbound ONLY Agency, You Might Have Been Mistaken
What? There are changes? We just became Platinum (insert HubSpot Partner Level here). We just got our fourth client and we’re starting to get the hang of it, how can there be changes?
The world of marketing is in a chaotic period and change is the only constant. If you thought what you did today was going to be what you did for the next 10 years, you might have miscalculated.
Look around you. There are new tactics, new tools, new software, new techniques, new agencies and new client requirements almost every single month. If your inbound marketing agency isn’t built to deal with these monumental shifts in the ground beneath your feet you might be in trouble.
Here are a couple of examples that illustrate the seismic changes in inbound. You might have been aware of some, others not so much, but these are going to impact your business this year. How are you responding to them?
Inbound Marketing Isn’t Inbound Anymore
There are several environmental factors impacting inbound marketing today. First, we have to look at HubSpot. They created the category and admittedly, they’ve taken their foot off the gas in exchange for the Growth Stack and their push into sale enablement.
I think the first chink in the armor was their admission that PPC was inbound. Now they’re looking at account based marketing and advocacy marketing as additional tactics that their software needs to support. Smart! They want a product that supports all the marketing tactics. But let’s be honest, the definition, once very narrow, has widened.
Clients Have Money For Non-Inbound Tactics
Inbound marketing came on the scene when the economy was horrible. The Great Recession. People were desperate for highly efficient marketing ideas. Today most people have bigger budgets, are willing to put money into non-inbound tactics and want leads immediately. We all know inbound marketing takes time and patience.
Social media pay per click, Google AdWords, remarketing campaigns, text campaigns, video marketing and other “new age” tactics are getting attention and since budgets are rich, businesses are trying these out as an attempt to find the silver bullet they’ve been searching for. Instead of being smart about their tactic selection, today its more about throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks. If you can afford it great. More people can today than when inbound gained popularity.
All Our Agencies Look Alike
There are so many inbound agencies, 3,400 in the HubSpot Partner Network alone, the quality of the inbound advice is lacking. I hear too many companies complaining about their previous inbound agency and wondering if inbound even works. We’re working hard to change their perceptions, but these experiences are common and widespread.
This is putting downward pressure on all our inbound marketing engagements. When we tell a client its going to be $9,000 a month and another agency comes in at $6,600 and a third offers to do it for $5,000, which one is likely to get the business? Yea, the cheapest one. We might even do a great job helping them understand the differences between us and the smaller shop, but in the end that $4,000 savings a month is big and they take the cheap option. Funny, you wouldn’t pick the cheapest doctor to do your operation, but when it comes to marketing—cheap beats quality almost every time.
Don’t be discouraged by this, hang in there, tell your story and let them go with the cheap option. Nine times out of ten they come back in a few months anyway, wishing they hired us to begin with. You’ll have the same experience, don’t compete on price, ever.
New Software Tools Are Coming Out Weekly
HubSpot was the fancy new kid on the block for a long time. Today there are a ton of new marketing and sales related software products for your agency to use, sell, and offer to clients. Here are just a few, some you might have heard of, others maybe not.
Engagio and DemandBase account based marketing. ReachForce for data quality. Wistia for video. Databox for dashboards and Full Circle Insights for full funnel metrics and analytics. I could write an entire article on the new technologies we’re evaluating. The landscape for marketing and sales technology is expanding exponentially every month. You have to keep up. Your clients are going to be asking you. These companies are aggressively marketing to your clients and they’ll be looking to you for help in assessing, installing, configuring and using the right tech for their goals.
Your Delivery Has To Change Too
You’ve already been exposed the idea of sales enablement. Are you capable of delivering these types of services? It’s not the same as a website, content marketing or email campaign creation. More bad news. Sales is just the first step. Once you stretch into sales from marketing you’re going to be held accountable for that one big number no one wants to be responsible for—REVENUE!
It won’t be enough to get your clients leads, you’re going to have to help them close those leads. Like it or not, you’re going to be accountable for revenue. The sooner you adjust your delivery team, model and agency configuration, the faster you’ll be set up to help clients grow, optimize and accelerate revenue.
The biggest takeaway from reading this article shouldn’t be fear, concern or nervousness. Our community is going to go through even more dramatic changes over the next few years.
You need a business and a team that is equipped to deal with change positively, not bury your head in the sand or run for the hills at the first sign of change. At Square 2 Marketing, we talk about innovating sales and marketing for our clients. That means we need to be on the cutting edge of the change that’s coming. I would much rather be involved in the change, than run over by the change. How about you?
Get your team comfortable with change, make it part of your Core Values and culture. Your clients are going to look to you for your guidance. They’re going to want you to help them navigate the change and that should be a role you’re comfortable with. Vendors deliver services, strategic partners help clients with change. Which are you?
Let me be crystal clear, this is not the death of inbound. Simply the evolution of inbound. Inbound is always going to be a collection of tactics that produce efficient and repeatable leads for clients. But over the next few months, clients are going to want more and I want you to be amazing at delivering inbound marketing AND the other services clients are going to be looking to buy. If you’re not changing, you’re dying. Don’t die.
Start Today Tip – Inbound is not what it once was. How are you responding? You can’t let this happen TO you. Instead, you should take an active role in creating the narrative. What stories are you telling your clients when they start questioning inbound? What services are you adding to your portfolio to go proactively to them and tell them about the changes coming? HubSpot might not be the guiding star you once thought they could be. Now you set the direction, call the shots, and make sure your agency is relevant next year and the year after. If all you’re talking about is inbound, you’re getting passed by and quickly. Don’t let that happen.
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