Building A Top Performing Agency (w/ Bob Ruffolo, IMPACT)

Author's avatar Metrics & Chill Podcast UPDATED Feb 20, 2024 PUBLISHED Mar 1, 2023 4 minutes read

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    Peter Caputa

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    Learn how Bob Ruffalo was able to grow IMPACT, a coaching and training company that helps businesses improve their sales, marketing, communication, and leadership, into a $12m firm that’s in the top 93rd-100th percentile of his agency peers.

    How They Moved The Needle

    We built a private benchmark group of 30 top HubSpot agencies so they could benchmark their HubSpot metric performance against peers. It’s 100% anonymous and invite-only. They’re all heavy hitters and high performers, which makes IMPACT’s performance all the more impressive.

    Here are a few of IMPACT’s HubSpot benchmarks:

    • Sessions: 186.2k (median: 4.6k)
    • Posts: 6k (35 last mo)
    • Landing pages: 14k views & 763 conversions (median: 15)
    • Closed-won deals: 18 (outperforming 69%, median: 8)
    • Sales cycle: 30 days (outperforming 80%, median: 44)

    When you take all the HubSpot metrics the group is tracking, IMPACT is in the 100th percentile on all but a couple. And even on those, they’re above the top quartile in performance.

    So in a recent interview with our CEO Pete Caputa, Bob shared a few insights on what he feels contributed to their success.

    Insight 1: They were early movers in investing in content.

    Their site was built when things were much less competitive, and they invested in inbound marketing very early. That gave them an edge they’ve been able to maintain to this day. In the early days, they tried to keep in step with HubSpot on publishing output.

    Even though HubSpot had 10~ FT content people (and Impact only had 1) they made it a goal to publish as frequently as HubSpot did. And for a window of time, it worked. Not only did they match HubSpot’s prolific output, but they also ranked just below them for a large number of keywords. This strategy drove massive brand awareness and traffic, which they’ve been able to build on to this day.

    And they’re still making investments. They currently employ 2 full-time writers in-house, who focus exclusively on writing thought-leadership content.

    Insight 2: They worked very hard, and had good timing.

    Bob and his team were willing and eager students in HubSpot’s partner program. They took advantage of networking with whoever they could and were humble to act on advice or receive help when it was offered. This often meant putting in the work and investing in content without any guarantee of results.

    For example, before there was even an inbound methodology, they were experimenting with various forms of inbound marketing and documenting what they were learning. A few people working at HubSpot at the time encouraged them to compile their learnings into an infographic, offering to share it on the HubSpot blog if they did. At this time, HubSpot was becoming hot, inbound marketing was gaining attention, and infographics were fairly new. The IMPACT team built the infographic and HubSpot published it.

    It went viral and ended up driving millions of dollars in revenue. But Bob didn’t expect that kind of result or have any guarantee. He was just willing to put in the work, and take advice.

    Insight 3: They found ways to differentiate and stand out from the competition.

    For example, they’ve gone from sending a brand newsletter to having Marcus Sheridan (Bob’s partner) write and send it himself. This helps them connect to their readers in a more distinct, unique way. They also shifted their focus away from inbound marketing services to consulting and training. This resulted in happier clients, better success stories, happier employees, and significantly more profit.

    So they de-emphasized the deliverable side of the business and went all-in on “They Ask, You Answer.” coaching and training. And for the services they *have* retained, they’ve focused on bringing a consulting element to.

    Besides this, one of the most significant ways they’ve differentiated themselves in through their point of view that clients should be creating their own content, not outsourcing it to an agency that doesn’t know their clients as well and can’t possibly do as well of a job as they can.

    Insight 4: They center their training around a unique inbound marketing method that they’ve already built demand for.

    Bob credits a lot of their lead volume and quicker sales cycle to selling a powerful framework that businesses clearly see a need for. Many clients feel they’ve been doing inbound marketing, but realize they need to be doing the principles taught in “They Ask, You Answer.”: the framework Marcus developed and that IMPACT provides training on.

    In other words, prospects have heard Marcus speak at events or read his book, and they come in wanting to adopt the methodology. This makes IMPACT a sort of “market of 1”, because they’ve created demand for a specific methodology only they teach.

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    Jeremiah Rizzo

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