2016 is drawing near and I’ve been reflecting on the last year. At Denamico, we’ve had a lot of change and learned a lot of lessons - about growing an agency, creating inbound marketing strategy, developing COS websites, and so much more.
We reflected on all of this change and it got me thinking - one of the best ways to learn and grow is to hear real stories and examples of trials and errors, so I thought it could be helpful and certainly interesting to ask some of the top experts in our field what they learned in 2015.
Here are 12 of their key insights:
1. Don’t hesitate when you have a good idea
“If you have an idea, act on it. You'll never know if it is a success unless you try it out. If it isn't working, don't be afraid to stop and try something else.”
- Andrew Dymski, CEO & Co-founder of DoInbound and VP of Inbound and Co-founder of GuavaBox
2. Test everything
"A lot of times we see a challenge and we come up with an awesome solution that turns into a huge project. We dive right into it before we know if the customer/end user/stakeholder even wants it.
This year I learned how valuable it is to test every idea. When you come up with a new idea, test it by creating a small, FAST test - $0 budget and 3-5 days. See if people care about the idea. If they do, flesh it out a little more and test it again. If you don’t see traction, tweak your approach and re-test until you get the result you’re hoping for.
If you’re always testing and iterating on your ideas, you know you’re always making progress rather than moving fast and hard on projects that, in the end, won’t work."
- Luke Summerfield, Growth Driven Design Program Manager, HubSpot
3. Figure out who you don’t serve.
“I’ve learned that it’s as important to figure out who we don’t serve, as who we do. That’s why culture is so important to live/practice on a daily basis. I’ve learned a lot from other companies who use their culture for everything, including hiring, firing and sales.”
- Kristin Dennewill, CEO, Denamico
4. Ask more questions.
“Ask more questions - because the first answer is very seldom the correct one (and you should not assume anything).”
- Brendon Dennewill, President, Denamico
5. Get niche specific
“Going niche was the most important move we made this year. We typically write niche content for client engagements, but when we went niche as an agency for both our client services and our content, we received 10X improvements in less than 6 months.”
- Peter Lang, CEO & Digital Marketing Strategist at Uhuru Network LLC
6. Stay focused and avoid distractions
“Short term fire drills can destroy your long term inbound marketing objectives. For example, blog articles you had planned for the next 2 or 3 weeks have been put off because you need to prepare for a tradeshow. Your missed publishing deadlines result in a drop in web traffic and a drop in sales leads. Inbound marketing activities have to be a priority and part of a regular routine.”
- Susie Kelley, Owner and Business Development at Spot On Marketing Agency
7. Staying focused might mean changing your habits
"I have been failing all year, letting email and constant distractions run my life. It’s hurt my ability to meet my objectives in a timely manner.
Plus, I’ve struggled with the “knowing-doing” gap. Intellectually I knew what to do, but was really having trouble changing my habits. In the process, I discovered “as if” research and discovered how to become a Time Master."
- Jill Konrath, Sales Speaker, Author, and Thought Leader
8. Culture is important but it takes time
“A culture code is process. It is necessary. Don’t try to rush it.”
- Trish Lessard, Founder and CEO, MediaJunction®
9. Agencies aren't just for marketing
“The biggest a-ha moment I had this year is that marketing agencies can actually help sales departments sell better. As marketing agencies, we don't usually think our talents can be applied outside of marketing, but our skills at content, training, and analytics are sorely needed in sales.
Many salespeople still sell the same way they did 20 years ago. Marketing agencies can bring new tools and systems in the areas of CRM and inbox intelligence that will dramatically increase sales productivity.”
- David Weinhaus, Partner Sales Enablement, HubSpot
10. It's not about you
"It's not about us. Not about what we can do, our product, how we do it, or how good we are. All about the other person, their perception of reality and willingness to change the status quo.”
- Carole Mahoney, Founder and Advisor, Unbound Growth
11. Great content means you're actually a real expert
"You have to be a real expert. Gary Vee said this well in a post the other day: you can't build a personal brand unless you've actually done something that makes you worthy of the attention and accolades."
- Peter Caputa, VP of Sales, HubSpot
12. Grow a thick skin
"For years, I've believed in SWSWSWN: 'Some will. Some won't. So what. Next.'Just last week, I told my business partner we should change it to FWMWSWN: 'Few will. Most won't. So what. Next.'"
- Rick Roberge, Founder and Advisor, Unbound Growth
What did you learn about inbound marketing in 2015? Share your thoughts in the comments below.