Hybrid agencies will come to rule the marketing world. These emerging leaders are tech-savvy, offer integrated services, hire and retain versatile talent, and profit from diversified revenue streams. They thrive on change, and continually apply shifts and advances in technology to strengthen their businesses, evolve their services, and deliver greater value to clients. As change velocity accelerates, traditional agencies unwilling or unable to adapt will quickly be left behind.
Meanwhile, more nimble upstart firms are utilizing technology to construct efficient agency-management and client-services models. Whereas legacy systems slow down large, established agencies, hybrid firms can activate the software and introduce processes that lower operating costs, increase productivity, and drive profitability. They are able to build more scalable models that largely operate in the cloud, capitalize on advances in online communications and mobility, and rely on their social graphs to create a more open and collaborative agency ecosystem.
The cloud, which metaphorically refers to the Internet, has given agencies access to affordable hosted solutions for time tracking, project management, customer relationship management (CRM), lead nurturing, sales, accounting, data storage, campaign management, monitoring, analytics, website content management systems (CMS), enterprise social networks, technology infrastructure, virtual meetings, and communications.
These cloud applications, which run on third-party servers rather than internal networks and local computers, become the backbone to more dynamic and innovative agencies. Systems and processes that used to take years to build on internal networks can now be activated and integrated in real-time, often for small monthly fees.
As selective consumption—the principle that consumers choose when and where to interact with brands—continues to drive marketing strategies and budgets, agencies must seek opportunities to bundle their services through a value-added reseller (VAR) and affiliate programs. The HubSpot VAR Program is a perfect example of the opportunities that exist around technology-driven services.
In February 2010, HubSpot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan (@bhalligan) introduced their VAR program and began investing significant company resources in training and certifying marketing agencies on the use of its inbound marketing software.
Insight into the HubSpot VAR Program
I asked HubSpot’s Peter Caputa (@pc4media), director, Value Added Reseller Program, to share his thoughts on the program and the growth opportunities that exist for agencies moving forward: Recently, a prospective partner said to me, ‘There’s no one out there like HubSpot who is trying to help marketing agencies be better marketing agencies.’
There are so many challenges that marketing agencies face that are externally imposed, such as the changing landscape of services they must learn and deliver, as well as internal challenges including client acquisition, profit margins, and account retention. From working with hundreds of agencies of all types and sizes, we’ve discovered ways to help agencies with these challenges and for several years have been packaging up training and support services on top of our core product to help them.
Most agencies and consultants lack the time to even do their own marketing, let alone do the research and development to know where the market is heading, what services they should offer, and how to offer them efficiently so that they can help clients maximize their return on investment.