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We follow a project framework to ensure that the customer experiences we help clients create align with corporate strategies and are grounded in a solid understanding of their customer. Within that framework, we follow proven processes that address each component. How much emphasis and effort we apply to each part varies by client. We take into account their needs and preexisting content, processes, and technology.
We have completed small projects in as few as six weeks, and have worked with other clients for many years. Most of our projects last 4-6 months. Your business complexity, the maturity of your existing content, processes, and technology, and your team's available time and resources determine project length. We can provide continued support anywhere from a few months to a few years. We customize this support to your team’s experience and bandwidth so you can deliver an integrated customer experience.
Most marketing agencies approach things from a creative foundation. They are creators and builders at heart, with strong skillsets in graphic design, web design, and social media marketing. We come at things from a different perspective. Our foundation is business strategy, marketing strategy, and marketing technology. Our goal is to unite marketing, sales, and service teams with a common platform and a common set of customer data. We focus on building information-driven customer experiences that align with your corporate strategies and are grounded in a deep understanding of your customers. We partner with designers, developers, and content creators to deliver the assets your company needs to produce a compelling customer experience. In that sense, we complement marketing agencies rather than compete with them.
We insist on a minimum level of review of your underlying strategies and customer understanding. This ensures that we’re in sync with your objectives, that the CX you want to implement (or have implemented) has a strong chance of success, and that we can provide advice on system setup decisions in that context. There are lower-cost resources available if all you need is someone to push buttons per your direction.
The boundaries between B2B, B2B2C, and B2C strategies are blurring as corporate buyers bring habits and preferences from their home lives into the workplace. But, our experience is concentrated in the B2B sector and we see a significant opportunity to help those businesses adopt and embrace the revenue-centric, information-driven customer experience approaches that are already prevalent in the B2C sector. We assess B2B2C opportunities on a case-by-case basis to see whether they are likely to benefit more from a B2B or B2C approach. We know some great B2C experts to whom we can refer you if the B2C route seems more compelling.
We’re based in Houston, Texas, but see no barriers to working remotely, which means we can serve customers wherever they live and work. That said, we enjoy our sleep and like to keep conventional work hours, so projects with clients located many time zones away from GMT-6 can be affected by the reduction in overlapping work time. We currently only offer our services in English, although we can break out our Spanish when it’s helpful.
Not at all. We’re focused on businesses with an appetite to grow and a budget to invest in projects, software, and marketing. This includes companies going through their first growth journey, companies regrowing after suffering the negative impacts of sector contraction or macroeconomic recession, and older businesses seeking to rejuvenate and grow in new ways. The common characteristic is a willingness to invest in transforming the business to achieve revenue growth in today’s buyer-controlled markets.
Through our connections in the angel, venture capital, corporate venture capital, private equity, and commercial banking communities, we can help some businesses raise capital. However, we only do this on a selective basis when we see a clearly investible opportunity and preferably when there is an ongoing project between Strategic Piece and the company.
User training is an important component in many of our projects. Training ensures that your team understands, adopts, and enjoys the technology that we help you implement. We also offer bespoke education sessions on topics within the information-driven customer experience domain and plan to offer scheduled workshops on key topics soon. For ongoing HubSpot training, we recommend the HubSpot Academy, which offers courses and certification on all aspects of the platform. For more general marketing and sales skills training, we are happy to refer you to dedicated resources specializing in those areas.
An interactive relationship with our clients is key to successful project delivery. You know your business, market, solutions, customers, and competitors much better than we, and those insights are critical to designing and setting up an effective information-driven customer experience. But, we know that time is a precious commodity, so we structure our interactions to be as effective and non-intrusive as possible. We use many communication platforms and tools (e.g. phone, email, Zoom, Slack, ClickUp, Dropbox, and Google Workspace). We do our best to accommodate our clients' existing ways of working. At a minimum, we will hold weekly meetings with project stakeholders to review progress, clarify next steps, keep everyone on the same page, and sustain momentum.
We’re pretty good at writing and editing content, but you know much more about your business, market, customers, and competitors than we do. So, while we can help you turn rough ideas into compelling content, we rely on your team for the starting points. There are various ways we can collect your input, ranging from handwritten notes to recorded interviews, and we have proven methods for repurposing content across multiple channels and formats.
How much time do you have? We tailor our project plans to fit with your team’s availability. We typically spend 2-8 hours per week with some or all of your team, depending on the phase of the project and the speed at which we’re collectively trying to deliver the solution. It’s key to have the right people from your side involved at the right times, and we will delay or rearrange the project if we need to wait on the right person to contribute.
The real value of an information-driven customer experience is achieved when you’re in a position to invest time and money in identifying and engaging with prospects using an inbound methodology. This usually happens after you’ve begun gaining market traction and are either generating free cash flow or have raised working capital to fund your growth strategy. We recommend putting the basics in place even earlier – such as implementing HubSpot CRM from the get-go – then upgrading to more sophisticated marketing, sales, and support tools as you grow.
Provided you have a proven product, initial market traction, and an appropriate budget, we are open to helping you close strategy and process gaps before moving onto the design and implementation of an information-driven customer experience. If we don’t think you’re in a position where we can add enough value, we’ll give you candid feedback on the gaps you need to close and steps you might take to close them. We’ll be here whenever you’re ready.
Are you ready to hand them the keys to your revenue generating future? Do they have the knowledge and experience to set a marketing strategy that aligns with your corporate goals? Will you grant them authority to commit the organization to a technology platform that unites marketing, sales, and service? Hopefully, you answered “no” to most, if not all, of those questions. Establishing an information-driven customer experience requires vision, leadership, expertise, and the ability and authority to bring the whole customer-facing team along. Once the systems are up and running, your marketing coordinator will play a key role in keeping things moving, but it’s not appropriate to have them lead the entire project.
Not ready to start marketing usually means not completely sure about your solution (product, pricing, market, target customer) and/or don’t have time, budget, or both to invest. If that’s the case, focus on reaching those milestones first. If something else is causing your hesitation, let’s set up a call to discuss. You might be overthinking what marketing means for your business or underestimating its importance at this stage in your growth journey.
We hear versions of this question all the time. The content you generate should first-and-foremost answer common questions that your prospective customers are asking. Secondly, you should share relevant information that your prospects and customers will find valuable, drawing on your sector expertise. You'll also want to highlight the challenges your products and solutions help customers address. Content covering all of those themes lies throughout your organization. The key is getting it out of your team’s heads and into a consistent, shareable format. We can help turn those rough ideas into compelling content. There are many ways we can collect that input, ranging from handwritten notes to recorded interviews,. We have proven methods for repurposing content across multiple channels and formats.
Investors, particularly B2B investors, tend to undervalue marketing. B2B companies have traditionally depended on boots-on-the-ground sales for much of their revenue while marketing delivered brand recognition, collateral, and promo goods in support of that sales effort. Today, the game has changed. B2B buyers are performing 80%+ of their research and evaluation online before contacting vendors. Companies that recognize this shift and adjust their strategies accordingly will dramatically outperform companies that are slow to adapt. Your investors need to understand this threat as well as the opportunity that exists in aligning your customer experience with the way today’s B2B buyers operate. Be clear about the consequences of not investing (becoming obsolete and getting left behind) and the implications of investing in effective solutions (sector leadership and revenue growth).
Not necessarily. You will likely want to make some updates as we fine-tune messaging and set up HubSpot to track your website visitor interactions. This may involve linking CTA buttons and forms to your HubSpot platform. If your website is due for a facelift, combining that project with an overall customer experience implementation will likely make sense, but we recommend approaching what can become a behemoth of a project in phases. Consistency across your customer-facing assets and properties is important, so an outdated or inconsistent website could quickly become a liability.
Yikes! There are some very philosophical answers to that question! If you’ve read our website from tip to toe and still have unanswered questions, then we’d love to chat. If you think your business could benefit from the information-driven customer experience approach and you check most of the boxes under “Are We Right for Each Other?” on our homepage, let’s set up a time to discuss what a project might look like. Other than that, we recommend trusting the little voice in your head that’s saying this is a no-brainer. Start by getting your colleagues excited about an IDCX project, then give us a call!
A typical implementation project involving a strategy review, customer analysis, design, configuration, installation, rollout, and training will cost anywhere from $15,000 to $75,000 depending on the size and complexity of your business. This does not include software licenses (typically $1,000-4,000 per month) or marketing costs for advertising and social media (your total marketing budget should be 10-15% of your targeted revenue).
Besides our project fees, you will need to purchase an appropriate tier of HubSpot software. This will likely be some combination of Professional and Enterprise level modules for HubSpot’s Marketing Hub, Sales Hub, and Service Hub. The HubSpot CRM module is always included at no cost. You will also need a CMS module if you plan to host your website using HubSpot. In total, HubSpot will typically cost $1,000-4,000 per month depending on the modules required and any discounts applied. Expect that you may want to pay for add-ons that make HubSpot even more powerful. For example, many of our clients also license a database management tool that starts at about $35 per month. We can have a conversation about the complexity of what you want to achieve to give you a more accurate total cost of ownership figure.
You can also check out a blog post all about how to think about the total cost of ownership of HubSpot.
Hourly rates encourage service providers to pad their time with “busy work”, so we don’t use them. We charge a monthly retainer that’s linked to an overall estimated project cost. This gives our clients predictable costs and helps them to manage cashflow.
There’s no way to significantly reduce your upfront costs and get a reliable read on long-term results potential. A better question would be: how do we implement and optimize this approach to ensure maximum revenue growth and return on our investment? That strategy lies at the heart of our implementation process. We develop your strategy and plan while considering the nuances of your business, market, solution, and customers.
Start what? If your goal is to experiment with a few random acts of marketing and see whether anything sticks, then publish a few blog posts and see if anyone notices. Odds are nobody will. Strategic marketing requires focus, intent, commitment, measurement, optimization, and patience. Results often take 6-12 months as successive layers of marketing and sales achieve the 12-15 touch points buyers must encounter before trusting and engaging with your business. To put in place and take full advantage of a coherent, information-driven customer experience, you must have an appetite for significant revenue growth and be ready to commit the necessary time and investment.
Check out our article about the range of marketing spend that’s appropriate for a growth-oriented B2B company. We have also created a simple marketing budget calculator to help you see the numbers based on your situation. Your total marketing budget should be ~10-15% of your targeted annual revenue (i.e. $100-150k for each million dollars of revenue).
We never work for free – and you shouldn’t want us to, either. Your project would be relegated to the bottom of our priority list, only getting attention after our paying customers have been satisfied. However, we do like the idea of having some “skin in the game” and frequently include success-based elements in our compensation package. Get in touch and let’s discuss how this might apply to your project.
While we are happy to put our money where our mouth is and frequently include success-based elements in our compensation packages, we seldom take on projects where our compensation is entirely at risk. For equity compensation to make sense, your stock should either be liquid (publicly traded) or readily valued (mature business with established enterprise value and clear pathway to a liquidity event), and our involvement should be explicitly linked to a step-change in equity value or to the company reaching a point where we can monetize our share. A combination of retainer fees, success fees, and equity can usually be found that links our success with yours.
We are HubSpot specialists and depend on a combination of our own expertise and preferential access to HubSpot’s product and support teams to deliver you the best possible technology implementation. If you go with a different platform, you should engage an expert in that platform to assist you with the implementation. We could still work with you on the strategy and customer understanding components and partner with your software specialist to deliver the solution - if that makes strategic and financial sense for your company.
We’ve chosen to abandon our “tech agnostic” stance and align ourselves as a HubSpot Partner because we consistently find it to be the most suitable, accessible, and scalable platform for our clients – and it keeps getting better. Each of the other platforms has its strengths and weaknesses but none achieves the same level of effectiveness. We also hear more people expressing discontent and switching away from other platforms. We have helped several of them migrate to HubSpot (to their great satisfaction). Our own customer experience is built on HubSpot, which gives us first-hand experience with many of its features.
Business buyers are human beings. Human beings spend an increasing amount of time online, with the boundaries between work and non-work time becoming increasingly blurred (especially while many are working from home). Purchasing behaviors that originated outside work – researching and evaluating solutions using Google, Amazon, and other online resources – are being rapidly translated to the work environment. If it’s that easy to buy something at home, why not at work? The key isn’t how much of their total time your buyers are spending online, it’s how frequently they turn to online sources to answer questions about solving their challenges – when previously they might have spoken with your salesperson.
A key step in our proven project framework is reviewing and deepening your customer analysis. We develop this using customer personas and techniques such as customer journey mapping. In combination with a review of your market sector and competitors’ online presence, we develop a customer experience strategy that focuses on your buyers’ needs and meets them on the channels where they spend time and you can attract their attention. The strategy also describes how you can engage with prospects, encourage them along their buyer’s journey, and convert as many of them as possible into revenue-generating customers and advocates for your business.
Many businesses face this challenge. Our customer analysis process will help you develop customer personas and customer journey maps for each of your key customer types. The results of that analysis will help you decide how to focus aspects of your marketing on different customer groups to achieve maximum effectiveness. The marketing strategy we help you develop will guide you on how to divide your resources between different target groups and objectives.
B2B buyers are conducting 80%+ of their solution search and evaluation efforts online before contacting a provider. An inbound approach allows you to become their trusted advisor and provider of choice by publishing helpful, holistic content that assists them in making the right purchasing decision for their business – whether or not they buy your solution. Engaging prospective customers earlier in their buyer’s journey increases the probability that they will buy from you rather than your competitor (or no solution at all). This leads to greater revenue generation than waiting for active buyers to show up ready to buy.
Traditional marketing and sales focuses on identifying active buyers and aggressively promoting the features and benefits of a solution to them. This approach is flawed because (a) buyers are taking advantage of the internet to perform their search and evaluation before alerting providers to their interest and (b) buyers want to be educated, informed, and supported, not sold “at”. The modern customer experience allows a buyer to name and frame her challenge, identify and evaluate solutions, get her questions answered, make an informed decision, and even make a purchase without having to deal with a traditional information-pushing salesperson.
Yes, this can work for any B2B sector, provided you commit to adopting a mindset of inbound marketing and investing in the content, processes, and technology that allow it to function. Letting go of “old school” beliefs about your target customer and their approach to buying is the first big step toward unlocking new customers and revenue growth. Importantly, others in your sector may already be adopting an information-driven approach, putting your business at risk of suddenly becoming obsolete.
Your team will see the difference right away. Marketing will have a clearer understanding of your customers and how to communicate with them, as well as powerful, user-friendly tools to make that happen. Your sales team will be working on richer, better-defined leads that are receptive to engagement because they’ve been properly identified and nurtured. Your support team will feel connected to other customer-facing team members and better able to identify and realize new business opportunities, courtesy of working from a common database of customer information. And your leadership team will have regular – even real-time – insight into what’s working best and where to focus improvement efforts. Building and engaging an audience, generating leads, and converting them into revenue takes time – depending on your sales cycle it might be 6-12 months before you see significant growth – but you’ll have rich analytical insight along the way that shows progress being made.
If only that were the case. Unfortunately, buyers, markets, marketing, and marketing technology constantly change. Social media platforms adjust their algorithms. Groups of buyers change their preferences. Competitors exert influence on the market. Keywords gain and lose popularity, changing how much they cost. We hope to quickly find effective solutions based on our experience and knowledge of current market trends, but there is always an element of experimentation needed to uncover nuanced improvements and achieve the best results. How else would we know whether a buyer would prefer to see your face in an advert or a cute puppy?
So many factors influence the outcomes of your marketing, sales, and service efforts that it’s impossible to guarantee any particular result. We work to maximize the value created by whatever level of investment you choose to make, but external factors as well as internal decisions based on incomplete information, mean that we don’t always succeed to the same degree. If your marketing and sales efforts are missing the mark, we regroup and revisit our analyses and your strategies to see what we might have missed or where our combined assumptions have proven erroneous. Then, we adjust and go back to the market.
There is no such thing as a “typical ROI” because too many other factors come into play. For example, your marketing could be working exceptionally well but if your sales team fails to convert qualified leads into sales, the revenue outcome will be poor and return on investment low. Or, your sales might coincidentally benefit from a run of high-value referrals or unusually high conversion rates, boosting revenue and making the marketing ROI seem exceptional. Since we can’t predict or control any of these scenarios, we prefer to establish relevant metrics to track performance within each piece of your business and use those to assess success. Ultimately, the only goal that matters is revenue, but it takes more than an investment in marketing to make that happen.
How much money are you willing to spend? Leads can be generated by direct, account-based marketing (ABM) as well as through inbound marketing. How many leads your ABM team can generate will depend on the size of the group and the addressable market they’re tackling. Leads from inbound marketing will depend on impressions (how many people see your posts and ads), click through rate (how many people who see your posts and ads click on them and visit your website and landing page), and conversion rate (how many visitors are interested in your offer and become leads). The more you invest to sponsor posts and ads, the more impressions you will generate. The better targeted and designed that content, the higher your click through rate will be. The more valuable and relevant your offer, the higher your conversion rate will be. Each of these factors will be positively influenced by delivering an information-driven customer experience based on solid strategy and deep customer understanding.