The New Marketing Agency Retainer: DTyre-Style
For those that don't know him yet, Dan Tyre (@dantyre) was HubSpot's first salesperson, first sales manager and first sales director. He's both a HubSpot treasure and a HubSpot legend. If it wasn't for Dan, we wouldn't have an agency partner program. He mentored me through the process of petitioning the executive team to start the program and he literally stood at the front of the room shouting - at top speed - all of the reasons why we should start a program. He is the one, as the Inc article explains, who convinced Brian Halligan (@bhalligan) to reluctantly let us start the program. He has a lot of amazing traits and skills, but one of his more famous ones is his provocative way of convincing people to do things. When he says it, it's compelling.
At the beginning of 2012, DTyre got back involved in the agency partner program and currently manages a handful of channel account managers. In doing so, he's fully internalized what makes a successful inbound marketing agency.
Over the years, we've taught a lot of agencies how to increase their recurring retainer revenue in order to create strong positive cash flow; how to move away from project based work and the cash-flow roller coaster it causes. There's a special way we help them do it. When they follow the advice and training step-by-step, it doesn't fail. In the New Year, I'm going to be bold and call this the New Marketing Agency Retainer. Based on our success helping agencies do this and the resulting success this delivers to clients, I'm going to be really bold and say that this should be the standard way that every agency works.
Last month, DTyre was talking to an agency about 'The New Marketing Agency Retainer'. One of his account managers wrote it down in order to share with the agency afterward:
As we've discussed, we've spoken with many different types and sizes of agencies over the last year about "how and what they sell". We quickly realized that what we mean by a retainer is different than what they usually mean. What we teach agencies is very different than a standard “marketing services” retainer. Inbound marketing retainers are key to scaling a profitable agency and achieving the personal & professional goals that elude many agency owners. Here's the differences:
- An inbound marketing retainer is an annual (or multi-year) contract for a set scope of activities - performed at specific frequencies - that is designed to help the client achieve their business growth goals. It is not a month-to-month product-based catch-all for line item marketing services that change based on the whim of the client or some new creative idea that an agency conceives and pitches along the way.
- An inbound marketing retainer drives lead generation and customer acquisition which is important for any company serious about growing. Other marketing services are an easy to marginalize, easy to cut expense that is much more peripheral to a company’s success and can be implemented anytime (or not).
- An inbound marketing retainer creates tangible content assets as valuable as any other asset on the client’s balance sheet. Investments in blog posts, offers, landing pages and email marketing creative produce traffic, leads and sales month over month even if you take a month's hiatus. It has has paid huge dividends for early adopters as their results are not just cumulative, but compounding.
- An inbound marketing retainer provides value not just to the client's marketing efforts, but to their sales' efforts too. It shows a very direct ROI in lead quantity, quality, sales opportunity velocity and sales rep productivity. Some marketing services can be “squishy” and therefore difficult to justify even if the CMO believes that it is a worthwhile investment.
- Regardless of the payment terms, it involves agreeing on very specific short and long term goals and then driving hard to accomplish them as quickly as possible within the budget agreed upon. As a result, it's highly profitable for both the agency and the client alike.
Regardless of the industry segment, generating leads & customers in 2012 was not easy. To produce results, inbound marketing retainers require excellent content generation, world class marketing software and the ability to quickly identify the right conclusions from analytics data, then act on it with precision and speed.
In Q1 2013, there are two types of agency-to-prospect conversations taking place. One is agency owners justifying their “marketing services” for next year against $250 social media “experts”, free tools available to everyone, and justified by arbitrary improvements in some obtuse marketing metric. The other conversation is a strategic brainstorming session about the goals, plans, challenges and time line with senior level management on how to improve top line revenue results, reduce selling and marketing costs and improve sales rep productivity.
If you are not having those conversations today, you may want to ask yourself, "Why?"
See what I mean? Compelling?