What do clients want from your marketing agency?

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Aug 27, 2014 1:53:00 PM

    I'm sitting next to one of my sales reps. She is talking to a prospective marketing agency partner. 

    She's talking about delivering ROI to clients. They asked, "But how do we know what clients want?" She said, "We ask them." They say, "But sometimes, they want to talk about impressions and rankings. So, that's where we focus" She said, "In my experience, companies care about revenue even when they say that they care about other metrics." 

    To most people, that'd sound like a silly conversation to have unless you know that most agencies don't know a) how to help clients generate new customers and more revenue from existing ones b) know how to measure their impact on revenue directly. I even had someone tell me the other day that their clients are unwilling to share that information with them. I explained that we sell that as a feature; and strong agencies do too. 

    Is your agency still guessing the impact of your work? 

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    6 Years Ago, HubSpot Started Helping Companies Generate More Leads

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Aug 18, 2014 10:28:00 AM

    We have an internal wiki at HubSpot. We've had it since the beginning. They started archiving old pages, which sends a notification to the author of the page being archived. Here's an old page...


    As you can see above, six years ago, I posted a page about how we should sell the role of 'landing pages, calls-to-action, analytics' as tools to help companies generate leads. For those that haven't been paying attention, we did do that. We've been helping companies improve lead conversion rates for a long time.

    Most companies still don't know how to do 'online lead generation' effectively. In fact, most companies convert only 1% of their visitors into leads. Companies that do 'online lead generation' effectively convert 2-5% of their visitors. Companies that do inbound intensely - like HubSpot - turn 7-8% of their visitors into leads. 

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    Content Marketing on a Soda Cup?

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Jul 14, 2014 2:09:00 PM

    I guess Malcolm Gladwell has hit the "tipping point" in terms of popularity amongst the general audience. Didn't expect to see a cute little story from him on a Chipotle cup. It almost felt personalized, given that I enjoyed Gladwell's early books when I read them a long while ago. (I feel similarly to him that I do to say Bjork and The Breeders - musicians I loved when they were touring little venues back in the day.) 


    Enjoy! (The story, that is, compliments of Chipotle. Not the soda. There's a fee for that. Dare I say, "Freemium", Malcolm?) (Although the story does complement the soda.) 

    I'll stop. I am curious why Chipotle picked Malcolm Gladwell, though. Anyone know the story? (Update: looks like Adage has an article on this.) 


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    How Else Do HubSpot Agency Partners Create Value? (Besides Generating Leads for Clients)

    Posted by Todd Hockenberry on Jun 24, 2014 4:19:47 PM

    delivering-value-as-a-hubspot-varTake an awesome product like HubSpot and mix in some experience and expertise from the amazing HubSpot marketing agency community and what do you get? Hopefully a lot of value added service that helps the client achieve their goals.  Easy enough to say, but what are your client's goals? Of course we spend most of our time talking about site visits, leads, and sales. Pretty obvious that these are all crucial components of successful Inbound Marketing. If you are not delivering on these basics then you probably will not be keeping your clients long or landing many new ones.  But that is not the entire story, there are other critical area of value creation that HubSpot Agency Partners can impact.

    So how can HubSpot agency partners create more value?

    First, you need to understand what your clients are looking for. Of course your clients want more leads and increased sales, but what else are they looking for?

    We had a manufacturing client which was a small division of a much larger company. Our client had great potential for growth, but their internal sales team generated all of their leads. They had no external sales network, no marketing budget, no internal marketing or inbound expertise, and their website did not generate any leads for them. Of course our client wanted to generate more leads and sales, but their stagnant growth was impacting other areas as well.

    This company was in a situation where they might have to let some of their highly trained and experienced personnel go. They knew that they would probably have the work to hire back any staff they let go later in the year, but there was no guarantee that the staff would still be available so they might have to replace them with less skilled employees.

    The client knew they needed more sales and leads, but more than that they also needed a way to decrease employee turnover. And, because we were able to help them increase their sales, we were able to help them keep their employees. We identified this value area during our qualification calls and made this an area of cost savings that was atrtributed to our work. We came to agreement on the value of retaining these employees and the resulting savings.  

    This is just one example of how agency partners can create value for their clients above and beyond simple increased leads and sales.

    You need to figure out the consequences and implications of the obvious value you provide, and then assign a dollar value to those areas because you should be getting paid for your value. From decreased costs to a faster sales cycle, agencies have a lot of areas they can positively affect in terms of generating measurable return for their clients.

    Reducing the marketing customer cost of acquisition, or COCA, is one of the primary ways in which a agency can deliver value for its clients. Reducing the COCA should be one one of the big ticket items for agencies. If you can lower the cost of customer acquisition, it frees up more resources to attract more customers – in other words making the marketing and sales function more efficient as well as more effective.

    There are a lot of other areas where agencies can add value. Check out the list below and leave a comment if you can think of any others.

    • Increased revenues or profitability
    • Faster time to market
    • Decreased marketing costs
    • Improved operational efficiency
    • Revitalizing the organization
    • Enhancing customer loyalty
    • Increased market share
    • Decreased employee turnover
    • Attracting better employees, partners, vendors, investors
    • Improved customer retention levels
    • Increased revenue per customer
    • Increased competitive differentiation
    • Faster response time
    • Decreased operational expenses
    • Increased sales per customer
    • Improved asset utilization
    • Faster collections
    • Minimize sales and marketing risk
    • Additional revenue streams
    • Improved time-to-profitability
    • Increased billable hours
    • Increased inventory turns
    • Faster sales cycles

    During the recent partner day at HubSpot, I was part of a presentation about value-based fees, or getting paid for the results you deliver and not just the tasks you do (or heaven forbid the hours you work).

    Here is a before and after example from an actual client of ours.  We agreed on these areas and levels of value BEFORE we signed a retainer agreement: 

    Area of Value – projected year one


    Revenue for existing products


    Revenue from expanded sales network


    Lower COCA (decrease by 10%) – increase margins


    Revenue from new products


    Maintain work force


    Internal promotion


    Increase existing lead conversion (improve close rate by 20%)


    Internal branding/Thought leadership


    Total Value



    Here is the ACTUAL value delivered in year one.  

    Area of Value – after year one


    Revenue for existing products


    Revenue from expanded sales network


    Lower COCA (decrease by 10%) – increase margins


    Revenue from new products


    Maintain work force


    Internal promotion


    Increase existing lead conversion (improve close rate by 20%)


    Internal branding/Thought leadership


    Total Resulting Value


    Total Fees





    This is a happy client.  Make sure you identify all of the areas of value creation and maximize the real ROI for your services and for Inbound Marketing and get paid for it.

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    Topics: Top Line Results

    The Worst Word in the English Language

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Jun 16, 2014 9:08:11 AM

    There is one word that you should never use when someone asks you a question. 

    It's "sure". Why? People often use this in response to requests. If the request came over email or chat, you shouldn't ever say "sure". 

    Here's different ways that I (and I think a lot of other people) interpret it. 

    1. It means you don't care. You don't really care about what they're asking you. 
    2. You don't actually agree or want to do what they're suggesting. You're accommodating the person asking, but you're unhappy about it. 
    3. You're not really saying "yes", even though you are. You're just flat out lying. What you really mean is "no". 

    Other ways to handle a request instead of using "sure". 

    1. Say "no" if you mean "no". 
    2. Say "yes" if you mean "yes".
    3. Start by asking a question. Why do you ask? Why is that important to you? 
    4. Disagree. If you don't agree, just tell the person. Make them explain themselves so that you're satisfied.
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    Why Your Website is Your Dumbest Salesperson

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Jun 13, 2014 1:14:00 PM

    You've probably heard the phrase, "Your website is your best saleperson." (If you haven't, you should go read this article from 2008. It's even truer 6 years later and that article could use some updating. But, it should get the point across if you're that far behind.) 


    Why Your Website is Your Dumbest Salesperson. 

    Most of you didn't need to go read that article. You know that your website is like a salesperson and that you should invest in it. You know that buyers complete most of their buying process before they ever speak to your flesh-and-blood-type salespeople. Buyers do google searches, read blogs, ask questions on social media and hopefully (for you) they visit your website and read a lot about how you help people like them with interests, goals and challenges like theirs. You're already blogging once per day. You've comprehensively explained your service offerings on your site. You publish lots of case studies. You make sure everything is optimized for search and share-able on social media. In short, you're getting lots of prospective clients to your website; your website talks to way more people than your average salesperson does every day. If you're investing appropriately in these activities, your website is probably talking to more prospects than your whole sales team does every day. 

    Your website might even be doing more than just attracting your prospects to you. It might be capturing information about individual prospects as they visit and revisit your site. (Kinda like a salesperson, right?)  On your website, you might have lots of reasons for visitors to share their contact information with you in exchange for more information that will help them learn and make decisions - because you've built lots of offers and landing pages and are getting a high percentage of your website visitors to convert on your site every day. If you're doing all of this stuff, your website is by far the best 'business development representative' (BDR) you have. The average BDR makes 50 attempts per day and connects with 8 people. Your website puts the average business development rep to shame. Once again - if you're doing it all correctly and thoroughly - your website should be converting more people to qualified leads than your whole business development team does. 

    Unfortunately, though, there are very few of you that are investing in your website's ability to sell effectively. Most salespeople are able to adapt to the prospect's situation and needs. They adapt the conversation if they're talking to a CEO vs a VP because the CEO will care more about the whole company and probably care a bit less about the details. Good sales rep adapt their conversation if they're talking to a VP marketing vs a VP sales since they have different goals and challenges inside their organization. Good sales reps adapt their questions and stories if they're talking to someone in one industry vs another. For example, you're not going to ask a higher-ed admissions person how their lead flow is - you're going to ask them how many applicants they've been getting. This is not easy to teach a salesperson. Your sales management team probably has to help your salespeople learn how to do this effectively. If your company is really on the ball, you've created different scripts, templates and training programs to teach your salespeople how to adapt to different types of buyers. But, chances are you haven't invested in your best salesperson! That's your website (just in case you forgot who I was talking about). Your website is probably your dumbest salesperson. Your website has the same damn conversation with everyone no matter who they are. In fact, while a good salesperson is having a handful of great 2 way conversations with different prospects every day, your website isn't having any. You wouldn't teach your sales reps to say the same thing no matter who they're talking to - why the hell do you set your website up to do it? 

    It doesn't have to be this way. You don't have to fire your website.  Invest in your website like you invest in your salespeople. You can avoid your website going on a performance plan. You just need to train it. Let me show you a few examples of websites who are really smart, effective, quota crushing salespeople for their companies... 


    Examples of Companies with Websites Who are Their Smartest Salespeople.

    As you might expect, one of the smartest sales development companies in the world has a smart salesperson set up as their website. Sales Benchmark Index has implemented personalization on their website very effectively. They target larger B2B companies to help them improve sales and marketing effectiveness. As they target larger enterprises, multiple influencers and decision makers are often involved. In their marketing, they target CEOs, sales leaders, marketing leaders, sales operations, HR and salespeople themselves. As you can see in the screen grab below, they enable these different personas to personalize their website experience. 

    Once a visitor chooses a role, Sales Benchmark Index presents content that would be applicable to a person in that role. The screen grab below is displayed after a visitor clicks "marketing leader". As you can see, it also recognizes Meghan is the actual visitor and addresses her by name. (Meghan is the person who took these screen shots.) 
    You can see 3 more examples in an article written by Meghan called, "3 Examples of Website Personalization". 4 more examples here.

    Training Your Website to Have Personalized Conversations Like Salespeople Do

    While it's pretty hard to train a whole sales team on being great at adapting to different buyers, websites are pretty easy to train. You just have to write the content and write the rules. Here are a few simple steps. 

    1. Create buyer personas. If you sell to multiple industries, multiple people within a company or people with different situations, create as many buyer personas as you think you can and should target. At HubSpot, we have a bunch: small business owners, in-house marketers at SMEs, marketers at enterprise companies, marketing agencies, ecommerce companies, media/publishing executives, higher educational enrollment executives, non profit directors. Here's a free guide for creating buyer personas

    2. Think about what content you need to create for different buyer personas. You should probably start with one buyer persona first. Think about what content you'd need for different stages of their buying process. When they're in the awareness stage, you need to create blog posts like this one that point out that they're missing out on opportunity to do better. When they're in the interest phase, you need to create case studies. When they're in the decision-making phase, you need to create forms that offer a free consultation targeted at their needs. When they're in the action phase, you need to create pricing pages and pages describing your products and services. Here's a free guide that explains exactly how to do this. 

    3. Now that you have a matrix of personas and buying or "lifecycle" stages, start customizing your highly trafficked pages with content that speaks to these different personas at their different stages. For example, the text on your home page and blog sidebars should change. The calls to action on your product and services pages should change. You should highlight links to different content and have different forms asking different questions. Here's a guide (with videos) on how to implement smart content.

    Will Websites Make Salespeople Unnecessary Someday? 

    Probably.  Sadly (for the sales profession), we'll all probably buy complex products from some sorta robot (or algorithm) some day. I'd wager that the robots will be better than 99% of salespeople ever were

    PS. My website is still dumb. I'm obviously not trying to sell you anything here. Feel free to go buy this, though. :-) 

    PPS. You can totally make your website smarter if you want. In the famous words of Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber. "Just when I thought you couldn't get any dumber, you go and do something like this... and totally redeem yourself [by creating a smarter website]!" And you thought the website design business was dead. We're just getting started.


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    Stop Thanking Prospects for Their Time

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Jun 2, 2014 2:22:41 PM

    Was talking to David Weinhaus today. He's running a mastermind group for HubSpot partners. He has 20 agencies signed up for it. In the last call, he asked the group, "Do you thank your prospects for their time at the end of a sales call?" 90% of them said that they do.

    I suggested that he should tell them to say the following instead, "Thank you for your time today. Obviously, your time is more valuable than mine." (Yes, that's a joke. You shouldn't say that.) Unfortunately, when you thank prospects for their time, that is what you are implying. So, you might as well say it if you're going to continue selling the wrong way. 

    Instead - if you want to sell the right way - you should make it a goal for your prospects to thank you for your time. (They should really be thanking you for insights and for making them envision a better future state for themselves. But, most prospects will never say that.) In sales, the prospect should always be receiving more value in a call than you are.  (When they do buy from you, they should expect a significant return on their investment too.) There should never be a time when you're thanking them, even when they are clients. It should always be the other way. If you're delivering value, they should always be thanking you. 

    As a baby step, stop thanking prospects for their time immediately. Also, when a prospect thanks you, you should say, "You're welcome." If you really want to do this right say, "You're welcome. What specifically was helpful for you?" If they can't tell you anything specific, then you're still not doing it right. But, at least you're not implying that your time isn't valuable. 

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    News Flash for Business Owners: Getting Referrals and Internet Marketing Go Well Together

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Apr 30, 2014 2:25:00 PM

    So many business owners rely on word of mouth, networking and referrals as their primary means of getting new business. Some of these [slightly smarter] business owners realize that getting referrals is difficult to scale and that they (or their teams) can only hustle so much to get more referrals. At some point, these smarter business owners realize they they should invest in marketing. They just don't know how. (They aren't stupid. They just don't know how.) 

    What most business owners don't realize is that internet marketing accelerates referrals and networking accelerates internet marketing. Buyers don't live in two different worlds: a world where they go online to learn about things and a world where they talk to other people about it. In fact, most buyers do both. 

    If I just described you, ask yourself the following questions: 

    1. Have I ever received a newsletter from a company that I forwarded to other people? 
    2. Have I ever shared content online from a company I admire? 
    3. Have I ever read content that someone I admire shared about a company? 
    4. Have I ever been told about a company and then ended up signing up for their newsletter or following them on a social networking site? 

    If you said "yes" to any of these things, then ask yourself the following: 

    1. If my contacts are willing to tell someone about me in a conversation, would they also be willing to share my content with the people that follow them? 
    2. If I have a larger group of people that follow me online, will they get to know me over time and be more willing to talk to me when I reach out (or meet them at an event or get introduced to them by someone who knows us both)? 

    Getting referrals and doing internet marketing go hand in hand. Anyone that doesn't do both is missing out on new business. 

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    You Could Piece Together HubSpot If You Wanted to

    Posted by Pete Caputa on Mar 21, 2014 10:35:04 AM

    You should totally go do that. Go piece it together. Here's some advice on how to piece it together from Lance Cummings

    Now, before you roll your eyes at me and tell me that I could accomplish the same thing with a bunch of much cheaper tools from around the internet, just take a deep breath and let me explain. This statement is the equivalent of saying that instead of buying a Toyota Tundra, you can really accomplish the same thing with sheet metal, a set of wheels, and a couple of leather bucket seats. Could you feasibly build your own truck? Absolutely. But only a select few would have the know-how and patience to make it happen. And even then, there would always be annoying issues that just somehow make it not quite right. That’s how it feels to piece marketing software together: tedious, time-consuming, and annoying. And it only serves to distance you from your website, not connect you more fully.

    Piecing together marketing software sounds really smart after reading that, ha? 

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    Dear New Inbound Agency Leader...

    Posted by Chris Handy on Mar 18, 2014 6:42:29 PM

    This is a guest post/open letter from an awesome guy and the owner of ThinkHandy, Chris Handy. Chris - out of the kindness of his heart - takes calls from other agency owners who are struggling to scale up. 

    Dear New Inbound Agency Leader,

    dear_inbound_agency_leaderYou asked me if I have any advice to share on quickly ramping up your new agency. I am happy to share some assorted nuggets of advice that have added to the success of my inbound marketing agency

    • I have since fired my first two clients because they were not bought into the inbound methodology and had unreasonable expectations. Fast growth is good, but only if the client is a good fit. I am way more selective now, and find myself much happier. Don't accept a client that isn't excited to get started. I can't stress this enough. 
    • Spend time on the Hubspot Advanced Sales Training Modules that Corey Beale & Jeetu Mahtani produced a couple years ago. I find a lot of value in that series.
    • Read Baseline Selling by Dave Kurlan.
    • Read SNAP Selling by Jill Konrath. 
    • Create a defined sales process that works for you. Make sure you don't try to close too early, or sell past the close. 
    • Never stop adding value to your client's day. Send personal notes. Endorse/recommend them on LinkedIn. Do not be afraid to ask for referrals regularly.
    • Start using Salesforce for your own agency, even though its features may be overkill so that you will know the system for client implementation with your inbound marketing software of choice.
    • Document your processes. Pretend you are going to get run over by a train tomorrow and make sure that your staff can pick up the pieces when that happens. This mindset will make it much easier to step into a more executive role when the time comes.
    • Work out in the open and eliminate the unnecessary  work generated by "the big reveal". Find an online project management system that allows your client to be involved in the editorial process. This can save countless hours of heartache on content revisions. Open workspaces also allow you to keep your client up to date on the status of the many cogs in the inbound marketing wheel. This will save time spent on "update requests" and "status checks".
    There is so much more I could tell you if there were enough time. I hope this helps you get started. Agency Leadership is hard work, but very rewarding. Good Luck.
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    Topics: inbound marketing agency

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