Iliyana's Blog

Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is Principal I Channel Consultant at HubSpot, helping partner agencies grow their businesses with inbound marketing and position themselves as thought leaders in their fields. She spends her free time dancing salsa or writing about PR, social media, communications and sustainability, expertise gathered from years of agency experience working for PR and social media consultancies in Germany and in the UK.

Recent Posts

What Happens When Agencies Start to Scale? Part 2

[fa icon="calendar'] 25-Apr-2017 09:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Agencies

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Organisational structure and time inefficiencies, service packages development and new hire training and onboarding are three challenges that agencies face when they start to scale. We covered this in the first part of this series, if you missed it, read it here

Today, we're going to look at three more challenges that agencies face when they've grown past five people and have a good number of clients on retainers or long-term engagements. These include:

  • over-servicing but being underpaid and failing to ask for what their worth is;
  • lack of a documented account management process so that each new account manager has a blueprint to start doing their job and the leader doesn't need to be involved in everything from scratch with each new person on that team;
  • lack of a renewal management process and a structured way of securing that the client is happy and agrees to your plan for the future to stay with you.

Let's get started. 

When Agencies Start to Scale: 3 More Key Learnings & Fixes 

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PR Has Work to Do Before It Deserves a Seat the Board Table

[fa icon="calendar'] 18-Apr-2017 09:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Public Relations

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PR skills are still lacking and the gender pay gap is still heavily prevalent, especially in agencies. 

These were two of the findings that struck the most out for me when I was reading the results of the eight State of PR survey done by the CIPR - the largest professional PR body in Europe. 

When we look at what PR people do daily, the research reveals a 10% jump in the number of respondents spending most and some of their time on strategic planning - going up to 60%.

No surprise, though, that content creation and media relations are at the top of this list, respectively at 82% and 73%. But what's surprising is that measurement and evaluation hasn't moved much since last year and is still at the 50s.

I've always said that PR people are the best content creators but are really bad at measurement even though they all say that's the area they need to improve. However, if you're not spending time on time on it, how are you going to improve it? Reading this research makes me feel like Inbound PR is making more and more sense

To that point, quantitative and qualitative data analysis are among the top weakest skills and competencies. 

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What Happens When Agencies Start to Scale? Part 1

[fa icon="calendar'] 04-Apr-2017 08:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Agencies

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During the last two and a half years, I've worked with about 250 agency partners at HubSpot. I've seen some of them grow immensely and I'm grateful that I've been able to be part of that growth because I've learnt so much together with my agencies. 

From an inbound marketing consultant, I had to become an agency business consultant because eventually the challenges that my agencies who started growing were facing, were far outreaching just marketing. They needed help with their processes and business operations. 

Today, I want to share some key learnings from the scale lifecycle stage that all agencies struggle with as soon as: 

  • they start selling really quickly and have their sales process figured out;
  • their CEO wears way too many hats (selling, account management, people management etc) and things begin to fall off track;
  • they start hiring more and more people but are struggling with onboarding and training them for the work that they are going to be doing. 

If you as an agency are facing these challenges too, the goal of this blog post is to help you get your agency machine up and running not just from an inbound marketing and selling perspective, but really from an operational one.

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Why Inbound PR is the Future of PR? [Video]

[fa icon="calendar'] 28-Mar-2017 08:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Inbound PR

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Inbound PR will be two years old next month.

When I started working on the concept, I didn't think I'd get it as far as featuring it in a book chapter for #FuturePRoof or introducing it at INBOUND16 – the largest inbound conference in the world with over 19,000 attendees.

But the number of mentions, tweets, shares and comments about the concept over the past months really lead me to believe that there is a need for it. 

Inbound PR focuses on what PR does best – content – and turns it into a powerful machine that drives true bottom line results that can be measured. By doing so, Inbound PR alleviates PR's biggest challenge – measurement. 

It's a simple concept and a methodology but in its very essence, Inbound PR is a mindset change. It requires PR people to change the way they think about the work that they do, the value that they provide and how they actually do it. It requires a lot of learning and eye-opening understanding of the wider business, marketing and sales disciplines.  Otherwise, it won't be fit for the future. 

This aim of this blog is exactly that – to facilitate learning and drive change.

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The 3 Pillars of Customer Delight for Agencies (And Not Only)

[fa icon="calendar'] 14-Mar-2017 08:30:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Brands and Business, Agencies

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Did you know that it's five to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one? 

On top of that, improving customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%. 

If you ask me, these are numbers that I certainly wouldn't ignore. 

Unfortunately, far too many companies focus almost exclusively on net new sales and customer service remains just there as a given. 

I see this with my agency partners at HubSpot all the time. 

Of course, money in is important. You need that to keep the business running but if you want to scale an agency, sales and services need to be on the same level. Keeping your customers happy is priority number one too because that's how you ensure you have a sustainable revenue flow coming in all the time. You renew your agency-client retainers year after year because you continue to provide value.

So how do you do keep your customer happy?  

With a simple framework that I call the three pillars of customer delight. 

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