Doubling down on your sales and marketing efforts can be overwhelming. You might be asking yourself questions like, “Do I have enough bandwidth?” or “Do I need a strategy and guidance?”
Maybe you’re trying to decide if you can manage it alone, hire someone in-house, or work with an agency partner.
These are all common questions and possible solutions that come up when sales and marketing leaders are faced with the challenge of growing traffic, leads and sales through marketing.
If you’ve decided that outsourcing to an agency is the best route to go, you have many options to choose from.
No two marketing agencies are exactly alike. Differences include talent, the way agencies manage accounts, the industries they focus on, how they price, and whether or not they specialize in a particular software platform.
If your team is trying to decide between a HubSpot partner or traditional marketing agency, here are some things to consider when vetting your options and selecting the partner that is best for you and your organization.
What is a HubSpot Partner Agency?
A HubSpot Partner Agency is an organization whose expertise and ability is geared towards generating results by implementing sales and marketing activities using the HubSpot platform -- including the HubSpot Marketing, Sales, and Service Hubs.
This includes marketing and web design agencies, sales consultants, and sales consulting and CRM implementation companies that deliver inbound sales and marketing services such as content creation, SEO, automation, social media, sales enablement and more.
HubSpot Agency Partners are required to pass multiple certifications and practicals (implementation exercises) to prove their team is capable of advising clients on their use of HubSpot.
There is an expansive agency partner directory showcasing HubSpot certified marketing agencies and sales consultants, ranked by the number and quality of reviews they have received as well as their “tier level” (Diamond, Platinum, Gold and Silver) within the HubSpot partner program. At this time, there are close to 3,000 certified HubSpot Agency Partners worldwide and that number is growing rapidly.
Full disclosure, IMPACT is a diamond level HubSpot Partner Agency and HubSpot’s 2018 (and 2017) North American Partner of the Year, so we’re heavily involved in the HubSpot partner community. What we love most about it is the support, training, resources, and people!
The best HubSpot Agency Partners practice what they preach. They are their own best client, and the reviews, case studies, and social proof on their websites and in the HubSpot partner directory practically say it all.
When deciding on an agency that works for you, we recommend that you start by exploring if they practicing what they preach by applying best practices to their own brand.
As a HubSpot Agency Partner, it is our mission to align with people who have the same values, mindset, and appreciation for inbound marketing that we do. In order to do that, we have created systems to ensure there is accountability, open communication, and a proactive experience for our clients. This is ingrained in our culture.
Though we have adopted a number of best practices from HubSpot, we also believe it is important to create a unique, personalized experience for our clients that is founded in our core values, mission and purpose.
HubSpot partner or not, every agency has their own DNA.
Pros of Working with a HubSpot Partner Agency
Whether you're new to HubSpot or an active HubSpot customer seeking help to expand your bandwidth or get ongoing advice from someone with more knowledge and experience in the HubSpot platform, working with a HubSpot Agency Partner can be a great solution. Here are just a few reasons why:
Partner agencies benefit from direct access to HubSpot's accessible team, help and support staff. If something goes wrong in your HubSpot instance (or on your website that is built on HubSpot), working with a partner can often mean the difference between a quick fix and lots of hours spent on the phone troubleshooting.
If you have HubSpot and are looking for an implementation partner, a certified HubSpot Agency Partner has a greater ability to "do it for you" because they know the platform.
HubSpot provides early access to new products and features throughout the year as well as at the annual INBOUND conference. This includes training videos, webinars, and a knowledge base - all of which make for a shorter learning curve for the partners that take advantage of them.
The deep product knowledge that agency partners have across the full range of HubSpot (marketing, sales and service hubs) means there's an increased likelihood that you as a customer will get the most ROI out of your investment in HubSpot's software.
Cons of Working with a HubSpot Partner Agency
While there are many benefits of working with a HubSpot partner, there are also some reasons why you might choose to work with a different type of agency, including:
Some partner agencies can be overly HubSpot-focused and if you're not sure HubSpot is the right choice for your company, they may not always able to advise on the best software for you. For this reason, you may want to start by choosing the software you're using THEN if you are committed to HubSpot, hire a HubSpot partner, not the other way around.
While specialists in inbound, not all HubSpot partners are experts in some of the other things (ex. PR, advertising, events, direct mail, etc.) that someone looking for a full service agency might want help with. In other words, not all agencies are created equal. That's why it's important to check out their customer reviews in the HubSpot Partner Directory and consider which areas they actively promote / excel in to ensure it aligns with what your organization is looking to achieve through that partnership.
Things to Consider When Working With a HubSpot Partner Agency
If you've made the decision to work with a HubSpot agency partner, here are some things to keep in mind as you forge an agency-client relationship:
Making sure your organization aligns with the company culture of the agency you are working with is critical and will help foster a stronger working relationship between your team and your agency. At IMPACT, our Inbound Manifesto defines our approach to inbound marketing, and our core values of passion, helpfulness and dependability are shared by all members of our team.
It is essential for someone on your team to be the point person for the team and the agency you choose to work with. This will speed up decision making (which means you get faster results) and ensure that someone on your team gets adequately trained on how to use HubSpot.
The companies that are most successful with inbound marketing - and see the strongest results in terms of traffic, leads and sales - don't just rely on software like HubSpot. They truly embrace the inbound approach and make the creation of content a company-wide initiative.
What is a Traditional Agency?
There are many types of marketing agencies - from creative to digital to consulting to advertising - and often traditional agencies offer a blend of these services.
While some traditional marketing agencies are familiar with marketing automation software (and may even use HubSpot), there is often no guarantee that they will be skilled in the software that your company is using. This means a learning curve and potential missed opportunities.
Pros of Working with a Traditional Agency
Just as there are pros of working with a HubSpot Partner Agency, there are also good reasons to consider working with a traditional agency, including:
Because they are generally not tied to any specific software platform, they can be a good choice if you are not planning to use HubSpot for your marketing efforts.
If you have highly specialized needs - for example, you spend a considerable amount of money on PR or programmatic advertising, or maybe you need your website developed on a platform like Drupal - it might make sense to work with an agency that focuses on just that.
If inbound marketing is just a small part of what you're looking for help with, you might want to consider hiring a traditional agency that can manage other aspects of your marketing efforts including advertising, PR, direct mail, events, etc.
Cons of Working with a Traditional Agency
While traditional agencies have wide ranging skill sets, there are several reasons why you might choose not to hire one:
Traditional agencies do not have the same deep knowledge of HubSpot, early access to product releases, etc. that a HubSpot partner has, so if HubSpot is the backbone of your marketing strategy, that might make it harder to get results.
Most traditional agencies are not as well versed in the inbound methodology. This might not matter much if you're planning to acquire most of your customers through advertising or direct marketing, but if content marketing and inbound are important to you, you may find that you get better results with a HubSpot partner.
Things to Consider Before Selecting An Agency
Working with an agency is not a silver bullet.
To be successful with inbound marketing, you still need to have certain foundational elements in place within your company, like the right team, including subject matter experts (people to strategize, implement, analyze, and report), executive buy-in, the right technology and processes. (Notice people come first, then process.)
Here are some questions to ask yourself - and your team - before you hire an agency:
Do we have the resources (time/bandwidth, money, people) internally to consistently be our own best client with inbound and HubSpot?
Do we have the buy-in from team members willing to own the initiative?
Are we willing to incorporate inbound in all areas of our company; from sales to marketing and service?
How can we stand out in our industry and be most successful with inbound sales, marketing, and service?
Are we willing to make the investment of time and money to not just do this, but do it well?
When it comes to investing in services and results for your organization, don’t let the agencies you interview do all the talking.
Get to know the team you would be working with, and don’t be afraid to ask for them to provide details on their processes, along with case studies, and references.
Take a look at the company and team member social media profiles and online directory listings. There is a lot to be said about the integrity and marketing skills of a company from their digital footprint.
The best way to decide what kind of agency is right for you is to talk to your team about the company’s needs, roles and responsibilities. Then, scout the agency landscape to understand what your options are. Reach out to industry influencers, industry consultants, and trusted advisors to guide you to success.