Prior to joining IMPACT, I was the CEO and co-founder of Quintain Marketing, a platinum-level HubSpot partner agency based in Annapolis, Maryland.
My husband and I started Quintain in 2006 and joined the HubSpot partner program in 2011 which was a game changer for us. We quickly grew from a small, local agency serving businesses in the greater Annapolis area, to a nationally-known digital agency with clients throughout the United States.
As the agency grew, so did our relationship with HubSpot.
In a short time, we advanced from Silver to Gold and, ultimately, Platinum status in the HubSpot partner agency tiers program.
Our main focus was never on selling HubSpot software (although we did help a number of companies evaluate and purchase it), rather our revenues came primarily from inbound marketing retainers and building websites on the HubSpot website platform.
At Quintain, we used HubSpot for our own marketing and -- over the course of our 6 years as HubSpot partners -- helped 50+ companies generate leads and achieve their growth goals through the delivery of marketing services using the platform. We were power users and the individual members of our team had just about every HubSpot certification you could earn.
Wins & Successes
I’d like to think our team at Quintain delivered top-notch marketing services to the customers we served.
Our mission was “helping clients win” and it wasn’t just a slogan or a poster on the wall (although we had plenty of those!). The team was committed to doing more than just “checking the box” when it came to our clients’ marketing.
We were intensely focused on creating great content and producing results in the form of more revenue for the companies with which we worked. This is why, when we saw some of our customers struggling to close the inbound leads we delivered, we became one of the first HubSpot partner agencies to offer comprehensive sales coaching and consulting services.
Now, I’m not trying to brag, but I wanted to recognize the great team I was fortunate enough to work with during my time at Quintain and provide some context to what led me to my decision to join IMPACT.
Challenges & Change
Quintain’s trajectory from new HubSpot agency to Platinum partner was a fast one, but I’ll be honest here -- it wasn’t always an easy journey.
Like many other growing agencies, we faced a number of challenges including:
Annapolis is a small city and finding skilled marketers with HubSpot experience and strong client management and communication skills proved to be difficult.
Plus, we were competing with big agencies in nearby Baltimore and Washington, D.C. where salaries were higher. This always loomed large when I thought about how it would impact our ability to sustain future growth and fulfill our commitment to our clients.
At our peak, Quintain was a team of 13.
While our size enabled us to deliver a full suite of inbound marketing and web design services, it made it difficult to take on larger projects without straining our staff. Balancing team capacity with hiring while keeping tight control over cash flow and workloads is a challenge all agencies face, but the smaller you are, the tougher it is.
A common problem many companies experience with rapid growth is mistakes being made. New hires need to get up to speed fast, leaving little time for training, and when everyone on the team has a full workload, sometimes they prioritize completion over accuracy.
Yup, you read that right. We were a digital marketing agency that was challenged by marketing.
Talk to any agency and you’re likely to hear some version of this same story.
Sometimes it's because we’re the proverbial cobbler’s child and don’t make time for our marketing; others, it’s because we’re so in the weeds we can’t step back and take an objective approach to our messaging and strategy, and on occasion, (like in our case) it’s a combination of the two.
During our period of rapid growth, we took our foot off the gas which resulted in lots of marketing activity but little focus. Then when we finally decided to buckle down, we struggled to effectively communicate our differentiators.
There were plenty of other challenges ALL businesses face at one time or another too, including cash flow and internal organizational issues like documenting processes.
We rolled up our sleeves and met every challenge we faced with an attitude of “what can we learn from this?” and “what changes can we make to prevent this from happening again?”
Our team put a lot of time and effort into working ON the business and not just IN it, and looking back, it was amazing how much we all grew and improved -- both at the organizational and individual level -- in the last few years.
Keeping Up With the Competition
At the same time we were working on addressing our challenges and managing our growth, the larger HubSpot partner community rapidly expanded.
Today, there are more than 3,000 HubSpot partners both in the U.S. and throughout the world.
This increase in competition introduced a new dynamic to our business - compete on price or differentiate in a way that would enable us to eliminate (or greatly reduce) competition and charge higher margins.
Needless to say, I did not get into this line of work to win new business by being the cheapest provider, so competing on price just wasn’t an option.
As the partner landscape began to change, and competition increased, I had a decision to make -- double down on growing Quintain or look for the right opportunity to join forces with a strategic partner with whom we could take things to the next level.
Why I Chose IMPACT
During my time as a partner agency owner, I got to know the team at HubSpot really well and also formed close relationships with a number of other agency owners.
This was one of the most interesting things about the HubSpot partner community. It is incredibly tightly knit and -- with few exceptions -- agency partners treat each other as good friends rather than competitors. Many of us are even friends on Facebook and enjoy getting together outside of work.
It was through my participation in the partner community that I got to know IMPACT’s Founder and CEO, Bob Ruffolo.
Our journeys as agency owners were remarkably similar; we both experienced difficult years when we lost business, faced challenges with service delivery, and were forced to rethink our approach to company culture, values, and hiring.
Bob and IMPACT’s journey was chronicled on Forbes and when I read it, I felt an immediate kinship.
Fast forward a few years, and now I -- along with several other members of the team from Quintain -- have joined IMPACT.
There are a number of reasons I chose IMPACT over the other HubSpot partner agencies:
I’ve known Bob for several years and think very highly of his leadership style and vision for the future growth of the business.
IMPACT has a stellar reputation with HubSpot, other partner agencies, and its customers for doing awesome work and this is reflected in the large number of awards the agency has won both for its work and its workplace.
The corporate culture at IMPACT is remarkably similar to Quintain’s and I knew it would be an easy transition for myself and my team.
We have similar service offerings (inbound marketing, web design, etc.) and there is a lot of commonality in our delivery mechanisms (ex. We are both agile).
The company’s commitment to clients is strong and I knew the customers we had worked with at Quintain would be well taken care of.
The team of individuals that Bob has assembled is first-class and with the A-players we recruited at Quintain, we can do amazing things together.
I knew I had made the right decision when -- during my onboarding -- I watched a presentation of IMPACT’s purpose and saw that the company’s mission was “To help people and their organizations succeed.” This sounded remarkably similar to Quintain’s mission of “Helping our clients win.”
Joining a new company can be stressful and disruptive, but this kind of alignment has made the last few weeks surprisingly easy, both for me and for the other members of the Quintain team who have joined me at IMPACT. I hope (and believe) that it has been equally easy for everyone at IMPACT.
Bottom line - IMPACT is a good fit for me, my team AND my clients and that makes this a “win, win, win” situation!
The Lessons Learned
Any entrepreneur will tell you -- choosing to exit a company you have built from the ground up can be a bittersweet experience.
It’s a little bit like watching your teenaged children go to college; You know it’s a great thing, but at first, it’s hard to let go of a wonderful chapter in your life and recognize that the next chapter holds just as much (if not more) promise.
Nearly a month in, I believe strongly we made the right move for the future of our organization and team.
By joining forces (rather than competing), we’ll be able to deliver even more value to the clients we serve. I’m excited about the future and looking forward to working with Bob and IMPACT to build the world’s leading inbound marketing agency.
Want to learn more about this union? Get your ticket to IMPACT Live this August and chat with me in person:
Finding yourself at a similar turning point?
My advice: Embrace change. Don’t be afraid to pivot. Walk into the unknown. Take a chance. You never know what the future might hold!