Iliyana's Blog

The Agency-Client Relationship is Broken

[fa icon="calendar'] 07-Feb-2017 09:30:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Agencies

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2017 or not, the agency-client war still persists. 

Agencies want to be responsible for more, marketers don't trust them to let them. 

That's the major finding in a recent study done in the US but I think it's quite relevant for the rest of the world as well.  

Marketers at clients complain that agencies lack technical and data-savvy teams who can work on their accounts and that too many agencies still haven't transitioned from old media to new, lacking the expertise clients need in the digital age. 

Agencies, on the other hand, say that clients are unwilling to become true partners by taking work in-house that really should be done by the agency team and so showing a disrespectful unwillingness to commit to quality work. 

If you look at the comments below, you'll see how the language both parties use is rather judgemental and certainly doesn't show that they see the other counterpart as a partner: 

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How to Be a Better Agency: Top Tips From HubSpot's Agency Consultants Team

[fa icon="calendar'] 04-Oct-2016 10:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Agencies

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The best thing about my job is the team that I work with. I'm surrounded by super intelligent and knowledgeable people who come from various backgrounds and inspire me to be better and learn every day. 

So when I started writing more about the agency business I thought I should be using this fantastic resource that I see every day - the experiences, tips and advice of my colleagues from HubSpot's EMEA Agency Consultants team. 

Our role is called Channel Consultants (or CCs as we love our abbreviations at HubSpot) but essentially we are agency business consultants and we help our agency partners to do their own inbound marketing as well as to service clients in an efficient, value-adding and results-driven way.  
Our team has collectively worked with over 1,000 agencies (if not more) from across EMEA so as you can imagine this mass of knowledge could be pretty valuable to any agency.
This is why I decided to crowdsource a blog post with my team where I asked them to share their top 50-words tip on how to be a better agency. 
I put all tips into a SlideShare that you can read below. You'll see three main themes: 
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Agency Storytelling 101: The 6 Types of Stories Agencies Should be Telling [Infographic]

[fa icon="calendar'] 09-Aug-2016 09:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Storytelling, Agencies

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As a marketing agency consultant at HubSpot, I've so far worked with over 150 agencies. The one thing the majority of them struggle with is their own content. Yes, their own marketing.

I know, sometimes this does sound funny since that's exactly what these agencies offer to clients - marketing services . Surely, they should be able to be doing this for themselves, right? Yes, able they are. Not always committed, though. Why? Because client work comes first. And so does winning new business. 

But the most successful agencies I've worked with, have learned how to find the time for their own marketing and are nailing it. They experiment with their own stuff rather than with those for clients. Basically, they become their own best client. 

To get to this point is not impossible. You just need to treat yourself like a client. Get the goals, sign a retainer of activities, develop the marketing plan (including buyer personas, content plan and schedule) designate an account management, get this on a project management tool and then stick to it. Review, rinse and repeat. That's it. 

Okay, hold on a second, maybe it's not that simple. 

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When is PR Really Going to Be Disrupted?

[fa icon="calendar'] 20-Jun-2016 10:30:19 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Public Relations, Inbound PR, Agencies

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I got into PR about six years ago. Since then the PR industry has continuously being disrupted. 

That's probably happening to more or less any industry simply because of how fast technology is changing and how quickly ordinary people are embracing digital and are making decisions differently because of digital.

But I haven't seen this being said so much about the other industries as it has been for PR. Google "disruption of public relations" and you'll find multiple articles every year highlighting how PR needs to be disrupted, is ready to be disrupted or better be disrupted with real action. (And the list goes on.)

Fast forward to 2016 and we find the latest Global Communications Report from the Holmes Report pushing that message again  the scale of change is disrupting the PR industry but is PR really able to adapt to this shifting landscape? 

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Agencies, The End of the RFP Has Come. Are You Still Using Them?

[fa icon="calendar'] 13-Jun-2016 10:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva posted in Brands and Business, Agencies

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If you work in an agency, I'm sure you've seen people prepare for new business pitches or you've even either been part of one or run one yourself. Maybe even multiple ones. 

That's often the result of an RFP or a Request For Proposal that companies and their marketing people put through when in search of a new agency. 

You'll see a lot of arguments online about this traditional approach to choosing a new agency that has been going on for over 50-60 years and still seems to be the norm although it's hugely outdated. Some argue that this process is a complete waste of time as it's " too slow for a marketing world that functions at the speed of light".

My favourite detractor of RFPs is Blair Enns and all agency best practices he preaches in his book Win Without Pitching. Alone the name of the book explains the need to move away from RFPs and that it is indeed possible to do so. 

But it's one thing for the agency to change its model of how it wins new business, it's another on the client side. Because it's the clients requesting those RFPs and it's the agencies and other marketing professionals who need to re-educate and teach those clients how much more economic and efficient it could be to develop a better way of finding a new agency than with RFPs. 

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