I recently visited a friend of mine, who is a plumber, and was surprised to find that the taps in his bathroom, and his kitchen, were leaking. We’ve known each other long enough that I didn’t have to beat around the bush in asking, so I put it to him that it seemed strange that someone in his line of work would have less than perfect plumbing. His response may come as no surprise to many of us. He was too busy tending to customers that he doesn’t have the time to look after his own fixtures and fittings. Sound familiar?
Working within a growing inbound marketing agency, I can certainly relate, and it may be something other agencies have experienced too. We are so busy mastering digital marketing strategies for our many clients that we tend to forsake our own.
This can be down to resources, rather than just an oversight, but it is important to practice what we preach, so to speak, and utilise our skills to create a successful strategy for our own businesses. Your own agency should be treated like another client.
This does require taking a little time out from day to day tasks (and I can hear the objections already because I make many of them myself – I don’t have time, I have deadlines, etc), but one or two days of solid work should benefit your business or agency over the course of the entire year, and make looking after your own output easier.
This is the day
First things first: Book a strategy day with your team, putting aside all other distractions, and aim towards completing a new plan of action by the time it is over. This requires some discipline. Discussions should not be seen as a chance to air grievances, or to daydream about where the company could be in five years. It is about coming up with a marketing strategy, and only that.
The project manager in your team should take hold, and steer the agenda, which can at times involve cutting short those who tend to indulge in long soliloquies about anything and everything but the business at hand.
Your agency culture should, of course, be strong and pleasant enough to handle such an approach, so don’t be too delicate regarding differing opinions or approaches.
Put it in the calendar well in advance of the date, and get everyone on board and signed up to attend for the duration of the meeting. If necessary, notify clients that you will be out of contact for the day, so that there is no pressing need to get something done for them that interrupts your plans.
Have your entire team review your personas, considering your existing clients, the type of industries that are proving lucrative, problem clients and potential leads, and use these insights to determine two or three personas you should target for the next year.
If you have spent time creating content and campaigns for a particular persona that hasn’t borne fruit, re-evaluate whether it is still worth pursuing it.
Draw up new specifics about those personas you want to appeal to, and remember that you must always give a true description of your ideal customer, not one you already have. This will involve:
- Research – review your persona’s role, their company and industry, their goals, their challenges, their demographic. Who have you had most success with?
- Identifying trends – similar trends emerging with different personas can be grouped together as they tend to indicate who your personas really are.
- Creating persona stories – paint the picture of who this person is and what ways will be best for engagement with them.
Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse
Once you have identified the personas to market towards, audit the offers you currently have and come up with ideas for new ones that are likely to appeal to, and be of value to, those people. What can you provide that solves their problems, and what would these offers look like?
Once you have considered these questions, brainstorm on new buyer journeys that are likely to bring leads down the conversion path and turn them into customers.
Current market trends or industry changes can be a guide here. For instance, GDPR is on its way in May 2018, and every business, and inbound marketing agency, needs to be compliant with the new legislation. Can you provide the valuable information for those organisations that will help them to meet compliance standards? If so, what would that look like, and what content and messaging do you need to create to appeal to the market?
On the Campaign Trail
Once you have decided on the offers you want to provide, create inbound campaigns for each of these offers including blog content, social media promotion and engagement through the likes of Facebook Messenger and LinkedIn, email workflows, and any other form of engagement you feel might work.
The industry is changing a lot, so what worked last year may have been overtaken by a new approach since then. Want to rank well in search with your new content? Look at how long-tail keywords can improve your results, and at pillar content and topic clusters, and how you can frame your content creation around certain subjects to show authority.
Take each step one by one and make sure every team member knows not just what is being done, but why, and how it can help in the lead conversion process.
Map out each stage of your campaign, and clearly outline who is responsible for each stage of its creation, when it needs to be completed by, and when it should kick off.
Here’s the practical steps you need to take in the HubSpot platform to get your campaign up and running.
Of course, you also need to align this with your sales strategy, so it is vital that your marketing and sales teams work together with a ‘smarketing’ approach to formulate a successful campaign. This should be easy enough within an inbound agency, as the role of the salesperson has pretty much grown in line with marketing needs.
Now is the Winter of Our 'This Content'
With the campaigns front of mind, brainstorm to create a content calendar that offers the right blogs at the right times. Yes, coming up with new content ideas can be tough, but there are ways to do this. Also consider the various events and major landmarks in the year that will influence when is best to launch each campaign.
Again, looking at GDPR, with the deadline being May 2018, organisations need to start looking at this pretty soon, if they are not already, so get that one going now. If there’s a major online security summit next autumn, perhaps look at kicking off a campaign a few months before it. If you are a frequent attendee at the annual Inbound summit in Boston, consider a campaign that starts immediately afterwards, detailing the many insights you got from it, and how they have helped make you the stand-out marketing agency to turn to.
In more general terms, if you are looking to engage with an organisation in the health, fitness or beauty sector, look at starting a campaign around why they need to boost their online presence by spring in order to engage with the ‘be ready for summer’ market.
Once you put all of this in place, you can start creating and running those campaigns that will bring in more leads for your agency, just as you do for the businesses you serve.
Find out how we, as the agency for agencies, can help you create a successful inbound marketing strategy for your own business, by booking a call with Clodagh.
Clodagh is currently based in Dublin and is the a co-Director of Get Focused Ltd, the first Irish Platinum HubSpot Partner Agency. She's an accomplished inbound agency sales and marketing coach who has helped hundreds of agencies in the HubSpot Agency Partner Program since 2013, both in APAC and EMEA.