The old one is here - hope I am not breaking the rules with a new thread: https://www.warriorforum.com/main-in...l#post11341888
After that thread - we looked again. We focused only on Hubspot Diamond partners and found one - but after signing up, what we found is they weren't a company in the true sense - everybody was a contractor. There was no consistent process, we had a 1-hour window once a week to speak to them and all the copy reviews etc. were done using slack - so you were supposed to look at copy and write comments for them to revise - but without human interaction. Quite painful.
They gave up in the middle of a sales campaign because they say "we don't do a hard sell" - well neither do I - but I like to ask for an order at some point. I like to build interest, to build rapport, explain the value. People don't want to hear about us, they want to know what what we can do for them. And if we don't blow our own trumpet - who will?
So they said - we don't do selling. Even though - right on their website it talked about increasing sales. Basically, they were of the "Inbound is everything, we write blog posts" ilk.
When they quit, I had a long call with their CEO - and she was very nice, it was a good chat - they just didn't have anyone on board with any sales skills, none had done sales, they'd all done marketing degrees. So a short term sales campaign - they started and wanted out. Also - In that final call, I found out that our annual revenues were bigger than this Hubspot Diamond Partner.
Anyway - we kept digging after that and a friend's firm came up for the 2nd time. He'd originally refused to work with us on account of lone entrepreneurs like me being the absolute worst people to work for. So I begged and he gave in. And it's working like a dream for us.
What I like is that for our budget, we get access to a lot of skillsets. We come off calls sometimes and we have team calls where we say "phew, glad we aren't doing all that stuff". It's a consistent team of seasoned people with different skillsets.
But why are these good firms so hard to find? Well I think the buyers have a dilemma. We have no clue about marketing. We see it as a potential big earner but it's a dark art. So we can't qualify them and to be honest, I was sort of glad just to have someone take if off my hands. Well till we got through the 4th.
Now what I can impart for anyone with a budget to engage an agency but no marketing skills themselves are a few tips and maybe others can add more.
- Avoid those that are simply a collection of pay-as-you-go contractors but appear to be a proper organization. From what I can see, this is the norm, not an exception.
- If they don't sell to you and try and close the deal - walk away. If they can't have you selling your Grandma to sign up - they won't help you sell more. So if they say - we are almost at our limit, so if you are interested - we need to know by next Monday because we have a final call with another client then. It probably bullsh1t - but it means they know how to use closing techniques. If they just have a chat then send you a quote later which you can take or leave - walk away - that isn't closing.
- Avoid pure Inbound Marketing companies - inbound is definitely a part of what you do but it is not the whole thing. It's like buying a car without the wheels. Yet Inbound Marketing companies are the vogue. So if they don't have advertising, PR, promo people - they are not a complete marketing agency and what you will get is blog posts.
- Avoid those that want to do an upfront $20k cookie-cutter analysis project. There is good rationale for up front work to set up a roadmap - but it should be tailored to you and should not repeat stuff you already did. Ask for reports they did for other firms and check it's not just boilerplate stuff. I have seen 50 page reports where it's so obvious that 50% was the same for everyone.
- As well as any reports - ask for stuff they've used in execution as they do projects. You need a company that stands by their decisions. And you need a company that actually makes them. The proposal for a new campaign is a good indication. If it is full of "we could do x" "y often has good results" and "Z might be worth considering" - walk away - you don't want a menu - you want them to say what should be done. There's no guarantees. It is trial and error - but let them decide what to try - not give you a list of suggestions that you have to choose from. I call this "having a pair of ...."
- Avoid those that do other boilerplate items like "well, we have to rewrite your website". They could be right - but let them make some changes that show a measurable improvment first. Target something low risk that can't hit your business and let them prove themselves - if they are good - they will be happy. There's a whole list of standard high ticket items some of these firms say are necessary from the start. They get away with it 'cause so many do it.
- Absolutely avoid those that have no way to show you ROI. It's not an absolute science as there's so many moving parts, so it's not an exact measurement. But you have to know if they are improving your revenues or whether it's other factors doing it. How else do you know where to invest more $$$?
- Avoid firms where everyone you meet is under 30 or some hipster called Gary has (him/he) under his name on his email signature
- Do not presume "Hubspot Diamond" means "large company".
Anyway - it has been an interesting and expensive experience but there is hope if you qualify hard.