So here you are, coming out of a failed inbound marketing agency relationship. It may have started off strong; maybe you had some really solid wins and produced a lot of great work. You may have even improved some numbers.
But, for whatever reason, results tapered off, expectations weren’t met, or the growth you were expecting just didn’t occur.
“Why didn’t this work out? What did I miss?”
“Did I do something wrong here? Are my expectations too high?”
“Should I have even been working with an inbound marketing agency in the first place?”
If these questions sound familiar, I understand your frustration. These aren’t particularly fun questions to sit around and ponder, especially if you’re the one responsible for hiring the right agency for your organization.
At IMPACT, we're no stranger to these questions. Using the principles of They Ask, You Answer, we have successfully helped hundreds of clients, including many who previously had poor experiences with other inbound marketing agencies.
How is this possible? Well, believe me when I say this: When it comes to your last inbound marketing agency missteps, it likely wasn't you, it was them.
1. They couldn’t capture your authenticity and soul
As a business, good content needs to feel authentic and have the soul of your brand. Unless you have some miracle invention or patent, this is usually what makes you unique in the marketplace. It’s also what makes buyers feel connected to you and build trust with you.
If your content doesn’t have that authentic voice (that unique approach that sets you apart from your competition), then there’s a very good chance it’s just like all the other content out there, and you’ll come off like every other brand.
Generic, run-of-the-mill content isn’t trustworthy, and it produces mediocre results both in the short and long term.
Your true voice and personality can only be most effectively captured at a high-level by you and your people.
Who understands the objections, fears, questions, and concerns your buyers have better than the subject matter experts on your team? Who knows how you communicate and actually do business better than them?
No one does.
In other words, it’s likely that your last agency simply was not as familiar with your business or the way your buyer thinks, learns, and makes decisions as you are.
2. They didn’t produce content fast enough
Even though content marketing isn’t strictly a “numbers” game, there’s a clear correlation between major traffic and lead growth and the volume of content you can produce.
This means you need the ability to move fast and be nimble. Producing two to three new blog articles and videos every single week is significantly harder if someone outside of your company is doing it for you.
If you’ve ever created content (which you should have), you’re likely familiar with the game of telephone that takes place in order to produce new articles, videos, and website copy. With a traditional agency, every step requires approval and revisions between two organizations.
On the other hand, when you’ve got the resources in-house to produce your own content (like a content manager), the wheels of progress move much faster. In fact, I’ve worked with many clients who can produce four to five new articles and videos in a week.
This is nearly impossible if an agency is producing your content.
3. They didn’t enable personal and team growth
Imagine for a second you hired a personal trainer, but rather than guiding you through your workout, they lifted all the weights and did all the cardio for you.
You could certainly pick up on some best practices you could apply later, but not that six-pack that you wanted.
In the same way, when an agency is doing all the work on your digital sales and marketing program, your team doesn’t learn and grow nearly as much as they could if they were doing the work for themselves.
If your last inbound marketing agency did all of your marketing tasks for you, you likely missed out on adding new organizational capabilities and personal skills.
As we’ve seen with many high-performers we’ve trained in the past — or as we like to call them, “heroes” of their organizations — the single biggest trait that dictates success for them personally (and for the organization as a whole) is an obsession with learning and self-improvement.
While a traditional agency that completes a majority of your inbound marketing tasks may be able to teach you things along the way, a great deal is lost in going through the actions and trials yourself.
Rolling up your sleeves and learning how to do the things the agency once did allows every individual and the collective to develop new skills and abilities. These abilities can lead to unprecedented growth and competitive advantage.
4. They didn’t get everyone bought in (especially sales)
In a typical agency relationship, the marketing leader(s) are the sole point-of-contact with the agency. This inevitably leaves gaps and missed opportunities in creating a culture where everyone contributes to your content.
If your last agency didn’t get leadership on the same page with what’s going on, they likely didn’t have the ability to clear hurdles and cast a vision to the rest of the organization.
If sales wasn’t bought in, they likely didn’t have the opportunity to or, in some cases, the desire to contribute to content that potential customers saw on the website. Further, all that content didn’t get used in the sales process.
Ultimately, this may have led to inconsistencies between what prospects saw and heard on the website, what they were told in the sales process, and what they experienced in delivery or service.
The overarching drawback to the typical inbound marketing agency model is that as long as they’re doing all the work for you, you’ll be dependent on that partner and they’ll dictate your success.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not insinuating that agencies don’t do the best work they can and don’t try to deliver on their promises. That’s not the point here at all. In fact, I’d much prefer to assume that any agency you’d work with cares about your success.
The point, rather, is that in order to produce the most and best content, reduce costs in the long term, and experience the most growth individually and collectively, ownership is key.
At a point of full ownership, you’ll be able to do the following without an agency’s help:
Have your own in-house content production team
Produce two to three new articles every week
Produce two to three videos every week
Know how to track and effectively measure all of your inbound efforts
Know how to use content to educate and shorten the sales process
Have your leadership, sales, and marketing teams on your goals and strategies
Be equipped to adapt to new technologies and platforms
Bottom line: When you become capable of doing the things listed above, you won’t have failed agency relationships, because you’ll control many (if not all) of the variables of success with inbound and content marketing.
Fortunately, times have changed, and you don’t have to take a backseat when working with an agency anymore.
There are agencies that have seen the breakdown of the traditional model, just like us. They’re making training and coaching a large part of their core offering to meet the needs of organizations that are serious about insourcing and don’t want to fail in the process.
Through training and coaching, you can become empowered to do all of those things mentioned above and get to a place of full ownership.
Inbound market for an organization, they make the sale today. Teach an organization to inbound market, they make sales for a lifetime.