As I reflect on my journey in the digital sales and marketing world over the past quarter-century, I've come to a realization: I'm getting old.
No wait, not that. What I meant to say is: The traditional agency model is fundamentally broken.
Woah, Doc! That's a pretty bold statement, you are making there. Calm down, old man!
As someone who has been at the helm of Bernco Media, which has been a traditional "done-for-you" inbound marketing, and Certified HubSpot Partner agency since 2013, I think I have enough insight to make that claim.
I have seen this "brokenness" firsthand via:
my own agency over the years
while working on behalf of, or for other agencies
casual conversations with business and agency owners or employees
discovery calls with prospective clients
strategy sessions and HubSpot audits
For clients of agencies, the "traditional agency model" has various challenges. Some of them include:
Lack of Transparency: Sometimes, the work agencies do behind the scenes is not clear to the client, leading to a lack of trust and understanding as well as frustration.
Cost-effectiveness: The high cost of agency services can be prohibitive for many businesses, especially smaller ones. Whether that be in content creation or advertising online.
Customization: Each business is unique in some ways, but agencies often apply a one-size-fits-all approach, leading to lackluster results. Agencies build systems in order to streamline operations and be more profitable with their large headcount. But, what works for one company may not work for another.
Long-term Dependency: Agencies often foster dependency rather than empower clients to eventually handle their marketing on their own. Not to mention some other shady tactics I've seen, and may discuss later.
Turnaround Times: Agencies, juggling multiple clients, can struggle to deliver work promptly, leading to delays in marketing campaigns, or less than stellar overall quality of work.
Communication Gap: There can be a disconnect between the client's vision and the agency's interpretation, leading to unsatisfactory outcomes.
Lack of Alignment: Usually it's just the internal marketing team working with an agency, sales and leadership are usually not involved. Without proper alignment, success is damn near impossible. Fingers of blame start getting pointed, by both sales and marketing.
Lack of Strategy & Synergy: Often, there is no internal strategy or framework on the client's side. Add to that, some businesses work with multiple agencies at a time, all operating on their own playbook. This helps no one. Time for alignment.
No Significant Return on Investment: Many agencies do not report on specific ROI. They show the work, not the worth. Meaning, while they may show the number of blog posts written, links they built, optimization they did, ads they ran, leads you got, etc, they usually do not tie that back to revenue, nor do they go back and review the sales processes to find the gaps and make improvements.
Agency Turnover: Replacing agencies can cause continuity loss, trust issues, campaign delays, and costly onboarding processes, wasting time and resources. I have seen so many companies jump from one agency to another, and it's usually tied to performance issues, or being sold agency services they didn't really need.
That's just 10 challenges. I could rattle off more. But, I'm going to stop there, for now. 😀
🚫 STOP. Before I get hate mail. I understand I may offend some in the digital marketing community, especially other agencies. Look, I get it. Not every agency is like this. There are good eggs out there, who really do rock at what they do for their clients.
However, I firmly believe there is a better approach for some companies that are interested in investing in their long-term growth internally, rather than investing in one or many agencies.
I am not alone in this. I have seen it firsthand. It's transformative.
Now back to the story.
Empowering Businesses For Growth
As a response to the challenges outlined above, I am announcing the pivot of Bernco Media.
Instead of doing the work for our customers, as I have done in the past, I am transitioning Bernco Media into a coaching and training company. I want to equip businesses with the guidance, training, and tools needed to run the majority of their marketing in-house.
Here are a few reasons I believe this is the right path for companies today:
Empowerment: Bringing marketing activities in-house empowers companies to shape their own future and take charge of their success. No more blaming an agency, contractor, or cousin Bob.
Cost Savings: In-house marketing will be more cost-effective in the long run, freeing up financial resources for other areas of business growth. Yes, it takes time, but it's worth it.
Rapid Adaptability: With an in-house team, companies can respond to changes in their business environment faster. No more waiting on an outsourced resource to reply to your email or voicemail. Just get it done!
Alignment: When the marketing team is in-house and working in tandem with leadership and sales, it becomes easier to align with the company's vision, brand, and goals. Ditch the sales and marketing silos!
Revenue Team: Consisting of members of sales, marketing, and leadership, this revenue team is aligned on all aspects of sales, marketing, and of course revenue. This synced team meets multiple times a month so everyone is on the same page.
Customer Obsession: The key to success in today's digital sales and marketing landscape is to put the customer first. This means understanding customer needs, pain points, and desires, and creating content that speaks directly to them.
Customer Education: Educated prospects make better customers. This is a no-brainer, right? Leadership, sales, and marking will create written and video content to do just this.
Building Trust: Businesses must create unbiased content that is transparent, honest, and informative. By answering customer questions openly and honestly on the website, businesses establish themselves as the most trusted voice in their industry. We all know the saying, "People buy from people that they know, like, and TRUST".
B2B or B2C is irrelevant: Look, I know AI is around the corner, but until a time we actually need to sell to a robot overlord, we are selling to other humans. People research. People buy. Whether that is for themselves, or on behalf of their company. Instead, think Business to Human (B2H) or Human to Human (H2H).
Lead Quality Goes Up: Gone are the days of the sales team not liking the leads marketing sends their way. These qualified leads are ready to buy.
Revenue Goes Up: Prospects who trust you want to buy from you. This leads to more revenue via higher ticket sales or higher lifetime value.
Clear Reporting: Cut the fluff. Create dashboards that show what content brought in the new lead, how many pages that contact viewed, how much revenue a piece of content has generated over time, how well the sales team is performing, what content is moving the needle with sales, and so much more.
This leads me to...
This leads me to
Marketing and Sales Should Not Be So Freaking Complicated
In my head, I did not say "freaking". Trying to keep it clean, y'all. 👍
Over the years, it has become apparent that sales and marketing have become over-complicated, almost to the point of impairment. We are drowning in an ocean of tools, chasing after a multitude of KPIs that may not even be relevant, and clinging to old-school sales and marketing tactics that are more persuasive than consultative and helpful
Businesses today are getting bogged down in the intricacies of SaaS tools. It's INSANE!
Just because a tool can do something, should it?
At what point does too much technology hinder a company to grow?
Add to that, whatever new sales or marketing tactic was just released by some guru or what new social media platform popped up that you think you need to be on. It's so confusing and easy to go down those rabbit holes.
After 10+ years of this SaaS confusion and complication, it's time to simplify sales and marketing and go back to the basics.
A Common Sense Business Framework
Bernco's new coaching model is based on the framework of "They Ask, You Answer", a sales and marketing methodology developed by Marcus Sheridan, based on his best-selling book.
This simple yet powerful framework has been used successfully by hundreds of companies worldwide. It is based on the premise that educated prospects make better customers. This is achieved by answering customer questions openly and honestly on your website.
This framework teaches how to create the right written and video content, organize it for easy consumption, and use it effectively in the sales process to improve close rates and increase revenue. It positions businesses as the trusted voice in their industries and aligns marketing and sales teams around shared growth goals
While this framework is simple and makes perfect sense, it's not necessarily easy to implement by yourself, which is where a certified coach comes in.
👋 Oh hey, I'm one of those.
I have spent the last 6+ months with Marcus and our coach of coaches Chris Marr, as well as the rest of the coaching team from Impact, along with other business leaders like me. Recently we all graduated, and are now newly minted They Ask, You Answer Certified Coaches. 🎉
This is a passion for me. I LOVE THIS FRAMEWORK! I am 100% aligned with Marcus and Impact's goal of being a part of helping 10K+ businesses implement They Ask, You Answer. It's an honor to be a small part of that goal and to continue to work with the incredible team at Impact, as well as the other awesome certified TAYA coaches.
Who Bernco Media Can Help Today?
As part of the pivot, my initial focus will be on working with smaller businesses with revenue of $2M - $5M annually, catering to both B2B and B2C businesses.
My aim is to offer a personalized coaching experience, working with a small number of companies (between 4-6), at a time for 1:1 & team coaching. This targeted approach will ensure that each client receives the time and attention they deserve.
In addition, part of this will be helping these businesses hire the right talent as needed, such as content managers, video team member(s), sales team members, and Hubspot specialists.
Over the next year or so, I want to expand Bernco Media's coaching by hiring more coaches and trainers. This will allow us to serve mid-market companies and broaden our reach. (Hit me up if you are interested)
I'm also planning on introducing a group coaching model at some point, which will enable smaller organizations with tighter budgets to learn and execute at their own pace via an online coaching and training model.
And finally, I'm planning on hosting workshops focussing on various aspects of sales, marketing, and leadership as it relates to the They Ask, You Answer framework, and HubSpot.
As For Bernco Media and HubSpot
While I pivot Bernco Media to a coaching and training model, one thing remains the same: My commitment to Bernco Media's partnership with HubSpot.
Bernco Media is still a proud Certified HubSpot Partner, and I look forward to continuing to help businesses evaluate and purchase HubSpot or optimize their existing HubSpot portal when needed.
But, at the end of the day, and I do not say this lightly, HubSpot is the best CRM and sales and marketing platform for the They Ask, You Answer business framework, period. In fact, I will only work 1:1 with clients who have it already or commit to adopting it early on in our coaching relationship.
Wrap This Up Already, Doc! Sheesh.
This is a very exciting time for me.
It just feels right. Like, in my gut, it feels right.
But, I'm even more thrilled to embark on a journey of growth and transformation with companies who choose to go on this journey with me.
Owner/Head Coach @ Bernco Media. Digital sales & marketing since 1997. Passion for teaching companies to be the most trusted voice in their space. They Ask, You Answer Certified Coach & HubSpot Certified Partner & Trainer. Reversed Type 2 Diabetes doing KETO. Wears Mickey Mouse Daily. Daydreaming of next Disneyland Trip.