When Abhinav and I left from India to attend INBOUND16 in Boston, we weren’t sure what to expect. There were a couple of things we wanted to achieve or get a sense of. One, how do our skills benchmark against those of the others in the US and elsewhere? And would more agencies be open to outsource marketing automation work to us (by then we had started work for an inbound marketing agency in Boston, and another in Germany).
So our agenda was pretty clear: attend a few keynotes, and then meet as many agencies as possible.
What we learned
Generosity is what the inbound community is about
Yes, generous is the only word I have for it. Whoever we met, gave freely of their advice, of their knowledge and even connections. Everyone we spoke to encouraged our whitelabeling business proposition, gave us ideas, thought for our business. I was blown away by the readiness to help. But then that is what practicing inbound is about. At the core, you have to be a giving person.
Do what is right for the client
We met agencies who use HubSpot extensively, but they work on other platforms as well, depending on a client’s business requirements and availability of resources. So we met people well versed in Pardot, SharpSpring, Act-on and a host of emailing platforms. This is exactly how we think too.
Same processes and tools
Among the first questions we got asked by various agencies was about comfort with project management tools. Since we have been already working with Asana, Basecamp, JIRA, Trello and SmartSheets for various clients, it became simpler to have conversations about assigning tasks and managing them. For time tracking, we use Toggl internally, and now we’re on FreshBooks for an inbound agency.
Need for analytics
While many agencies are great with content development, running campaigns and generating leads for their clients, they find it challenging to go back and review their campaigns for insights that can inform their further approaches. We offered to help out a couple of agencies who brought up this challenges. During the course of the event, our team reviewed year-long campaigns run by these agencies, and gave recommendations on improving their open and CTRs. And they found it very useful.
A meeting place for clients, prospects and vendors
So we met our client and his team at the event. We could finally put a face to all the names we had been interacting with. We met prospective clients who wanted to meet our existing client, and that worked out well too. And we met the founder of one of the analytics tools we use. And of course, saw the demos of various tools and services we could potentially use in our quest for more and more automation.
Questions we faced
Expertise & Certifications
If agencies are to outsource, they worry about the expertise of the team they are outsourcing to. So certifications become really important. Certifications have now become a priority with our team. We have 9 right now, and are working hard to earn a few more.
What about time-zone?
We were also asked questions on time-zone related issues. The biggest question was, ‘What if we need something within a couple of hours?’
The person who asked this question partially answered it herself, by saying, “But if I plan our tasks right we might not have to be in that situation often!” And we are sure we would be able to work something out for agency-specific requirements.
NDAs and non-compete contracts
What kind of contracts do we sign with agencies, some asked. We sign non disclosure agreements and have non-compete clauses in place. While it is standard practice, we also adhere to the spirit of the contract. Our objective is to serve you so you can serve your clients better.
We are glad we went to INBOUND16. We made a lot of friends, and connected with many more, and not just in the US, but also Europe and Australia. And we can’t wait to go back in 2017!