We met Colin at Agency Connect, a cocktail party series hosted by the Cloud Software Association to bring agencies together to talk shop and build relationships with software partners.
Our host is Sunir Shah, CEO of AppBind, which makes it easy for digital agencies to sell more services to more clients by bringing the managing and expensing of subscriptions under control.
Thank you to Colin Bovet, GrowthApproach who is not only is a one-man marketing agency superhero, but he just got married a few days before we recorded this! Congratulations! 🙂
Colin offers business strategy and implementation for B2B technology companies. In particular, he focuses on aligning sales and marketing teams. He first gets the teams working well together and communicating. Then, he implements the CRM and any integrations to create marketing experiments that drive sustainable growth.
He’s a HubSpot Gold agency partner because its his favorite CRM, although he’s used many. He uses CRM integrations to to run experiments that drive sustainable growth.
Why are you reducing the number of services you’re offering?
The everything to everyone fallacy
When you’re a small agency starting out with consulting, there’s a real tendency to take money from anyone who will write a cheque for you. You’ll do anything that people ask you to do because you’re just hungry. And it works.
But the problem is you’re always continually learning new things. So you’re always on the first level of the learning curve, and you’re not really advancing to the level where you can deliver excellent results for your clients because it’s your area of expertise.
I’ve run my agency for two and a half years. My mindset for probably the first two years was just I can learn now, I can figure that out. Now it’s starting to get to the point of, OK, how do I scale this? How to scale an agency?
Repeatable processes and focus
That comes from putting systems in place, putting processes in place and figuring out replicable things that I can do for my clients. That requires looking at narrowing down the focus and as they say, the riches are in the niches.
Subcontract or hire?
Right now I’m looking at a few different models. There that are looking to take their growth to the next level. I’m getting more opportunities than I can manage. I’mat at the point of either finding other small agencies that I can work with or potentially hiring–or a combination of the two. Then I’m going to work on growing my pipeline and customer base.
Who has been the most disappointing software partner you’ve had?
Bad UI. One of the ones I’ve not been happy with is the LinkedIn ad management platform. I found that the campaign manager is just super hard to use. If you’ve run a lead generation campaign, it’s actually pretty hard to even see the leads that you’ve generated inside LinkedIn. The UI just isn’t that great.
Billing and expensing. The billing as well is kind of a disaster. They invoice you every day or every other day there’s a new payment amount. If that doesn’t line up with what the clients want, like one right now where they want they want to pay monthly by cheque, there’s just no way to do that with LinkedIn.
I know this is relevant to what you do.
Sunir. It is exactly what we solve at AppBind. 🙂 It’s part of my standard spiel. I used to be a CMO-as-a-service like you, but I wasn’t really trying to set up operations. I was just trying to get them to a point where their internal staff would take over. I put my card in LinkedIn Ad manager just to get up and running. Since I don’t think about LinkedIn ads all day long, I forgot about it for three clients! Months ago by, they hire a new marketer I see LinkedIn ads on my card.
So I had to call my old clients. “Hi, Eli, how are you doing? Hire anyone new lately? How do I get these expenses paid back?”
Do you think I got any more referrals from those clients? I did not.
Who’s been the best software partner you’ve ever had?
I’d definitely point to HubSpot for that. I think I started using HubSpot back in about 2012 at the tech company that I was at just as a customer. I love that it was an easy, user-friendly platform.
Invest in agency training
I think over the years what HubSpot has done so well is that they’ve really leaned into the agency channel program. They are putting a lot of resources and training towards their agencies.
So obviously there is INBOUND. There are also all these different bootcamps. I’m actually going through one right now, which is it’s led by employee #6 at HubSpot, Dan Tyre. It’s a really great program. They’re investing in the success of their agency partners in a very strong way.
The result of that is that they just have thousands of agency partners out there pitching HubSpot all the time, every day. So it’s it’s definitely a win win.
Continuous product improvements
But I really love the platform. They’ve continued to iterate and make improvements to the platform over time that make it more usable and allow it to serve more diverse scenarios. So that’s why I love switching my clients onto Hubspot.
Monthly managed service retainers
Growing with Hubspot all comes down to figuring out the monthly retainer model. The beauty of it is that with the services that I’m going to be offering, they’re not one-time fixes. My real goal is to create a long retention period with these clients. That’s also a huge issue for agencies. You go through churn and then you just never move forward.
The great thing is that with setting up everything with HubSpot, it’s a one-stop shop for everything your business needs from service, support, marketing. There are always more things that need to be done because your business is always growing and evolving.
Any advice for software companies reaching out to you to become a partner?
The software has to work as advertised
Make me look good with my clients. I hate it the most when I have a client and need to find a new software platform for them to use. I go out, I do my research based on their website, and I recommend a platform. We start using it and then it just doesn’t work. It’s not the functionality that I thought based on what was on the website or based on conversations makes me look really bad.
The best thing is for software partners to really be intentional about the way they describe the product and have the agency’s best interest in mind to make sure that it’ll be a successful engagement with a client.