Today marks the end of my second week as part of the team at IMPACT. It’s been a busy two weeks thus far, but I could not be happier with my decision to join forces with Bob Ruffolo and this incredible team.
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Transitioning from owning and running a very small agency to being part of a 40+ person team has been different for sure, but incredible.
And now that I am settling in a bit, I wanted to share with you how this opportunity came to be.
A Little History of Me and Visual Inspiration
Prior to joining IMPACT, I was the CEO and founder of Visual Inspiration, an inbound marketing agency, and HubSpot Partner, based in the greater Baltimore area.
I started Visual Inspiration as a one-man band, 15 years ago. Growing it to a five-person inbound marketing agency took a lot of work and of course, support from my wonderful husband and teammate, Jason. Jason was so supportive of me and my dream to grow my business that he took a leap of faith and left his job of 20+ years to help me do just that.
When asked to describe our organization, I would always use the phrase small, but mighty.
The fact that our team was small never stopped us from doing amazing, impactful work for our clients.
As the owner, and primary point of contact for clients, it was my goal to ensure that each and every one felt like they were our only. It’s that personalized, one-on-one attention that I believe helped us succeed in keeping our clients happy and working with us, year after year.
In 2012, we discovered HubSpot and instantly fell head-over-heels for inbound marketing and the successes it could create for our clients.
Similar to IMPACT, we decided to become a HubSpot Partner and expand our service offerings to include inbound marketing methodologies and things took off!
We saw huge successes with our clients who adapted inbound and nothing made us happier than seeing the efforts of a strong content campaign or lead nurturing effort pay off, ten-fold, for a client.
Over the course of the next five years we spent as an inbound marketing agency, we proudly helped dozens of clients find success.
We were able to turn some of the least tech-savvy business owners into inbound marketing machines; writing blogs, wrapping their heads around search engine optimization and landing pages; They even posted on social media!
Initially, as an agency, we were also great at producing content. We were cranking out two blogs a week, creating valuable eBooks, and filling our pipeline with prospects each month, but as you can imagine, as we got busier with client work, it got tougher for our small team to keep up.
By 2015, it had completely stalled and like many other agencies, we had fallen victim to not practicing what we preach.
I did not know it then, but this would come back to haunt us as an organization.
Fast forward to 2017 -- We were busier than ever and the year was off to a great start!
Our monthly revenue had nearly doubled from the previous year and as we were starting to get our footing back in regards to managing the workflow, we were looking for ways to grow the company.
We talked about narrowing our focus, either by vertical or by service offerings, and we were gearing up to lay the appropriate foundation to move forward.
But that’s when things started to unravel.
At the end of May, one of our largest clients contacted me and said they needed to terminate services. It's not that they were unhappy with the results we were providing; they had scaled their own business too fast and were suffering the consequences.
The loss of their business hit us hard. We reduced staff as much as we could and put the pedal to the metal looking for new clients. This is when I realized how much drifting away from our own inbound marketing efforts had affected us.
By the fourth quarter, the entire team was overworked and burnt out. I knew I needed to make a change. I knew I needed to step back and rebuild the foundation of the agency or we would never be able to grow.
An Unexpected Opportunity
In an effort to regroup and pivot Visual Inspiration into the next phase of growth, I decided to attend Digital Marketer’s Digital Agency Growth Summit in Austin, TX.
The agenda and speaker line up for the conference seemed like just what I needed to get things back on track, but one of the main reasons I was drawn to the event was that Bob, the founder of IMPACT, was speaking.
See, I’d been watching Bob and IMPACT for the past five years, starting when they were awarded “Rookie of the Year” at the HubSpot Partner Awards in 2012, and their growth had been impressive.
Bob was the first speaker on day one at the conference. During his session, he talked very openly about how he and IMPACT got where they are today (an Elite HubSpot Partner with over 5 million dollars in annual revenue).
He talked about his rapid success with HubSpot, building a team of “A” players, but more importantly, the challenges he encountered along the way.
Bob’s openness and willingness to be vulnerable truly resonated with me.
I decided to approach Bob and share with him how grateful I was for his presentation, which ended up leading to a more in-depth conversation about Visual Inspiration, our team, our expertise, and some of our successes and failures.
At the end of that conversation, Bob brought up the idea of Visual Inspiration and IMPACT joining forces. He explained that, as a company, IMPACT has had a great deal of success teaming up with other agencies (like Quintain Marketing) and that prior agency owners have found a great deal of success at IMPACT.
I will admit that I had never really thought about teaming up with another agency or letting go of my own. To be honest, if it was anyone else asking, I would not have even considered, but this was IMPACT and everything about it felt right.
That evening I spoke to Jason, and we decided to pursue this unbelievable opportunity.
And it was the Best Decision Ever!
We made things official earlier this month when Jason and I, along with several of our clients, transitioned over to IMPACT; Jason as a PPC specialist and myself as an inbound marketing strategist.
These new roles will allow us to focus on our strengths and do what we love most -- helping our clients succeed.
We are only two weeks in, but I already have a list of reasons why I know this was a great decision:
IMPACT is a Great Place to Work - Not only are they a stable, agile, and fast-growing company but they genuinely care about their employees. Leaving my life as an entrepreneur behind was a tough decision, but I am so glad I chose IMPACT as the place to start this new chapter.
IMPACT’s Amazing Company Culture- The team at IMPACT is full of smart, passionate people who love what they do. They are committed to helping clients find success and ensuring that everyone on the team is successful as well.
An Opportunity to Focus & Grow - While I have enjoyed running my own agency for the past 15 years, joining forces with IMPACT will allow me to focus on what I love most and grow into the best IMPACT team member I can be.
The Future Is Bright -with new ideas popping up every day at IMPACT, I know that there is a bright future for me, Jason, and the entire team to grow and flourish alongside the company as a whole.
A Glimpse Back & A Huge Step Forward
As I am sure any entrepreneur will tell you, making a decision to leave behind something you have worked so hard to build can be really tough.
Visual Inspiration was part of me; Being a business owner was part of my identity. I am beyond proud of the company I built, the team that supported me, and the work that we did for our amazing clients.
I know that these sentiments will only grow as we become a part of the IMPACT family.
That being said, I am incredibly excited for the opportunity that lies ahead at IMPACT and I could not be happier about the path we chose.
Want to chat more about my transition to IMPACT? Get your tickets to IMPACT Live this August and chat with me there or, if you think you have the passion, helpfulness, and dependability it takes to make an impact on our team, check out our open positions. We’re hiring!