Andrés Pérez Españon Talks About Inbound Methodology

November 2, 2023 | Interview

Welcome to the Marketing Lego Thought Leader Interview. Today, we will speak with Andrés Pérez Españon, CEO of Drew, about his journey and how he came up with his digital marketing agency. We will also discuss valuable insights on inbound methodology, marketing, CRM, SEO, and more.

 

Hi, everyone, and welcome to today’s Marketing Lego’s Thought Leader interview. My name is Harshit, and I’m the Director of Business Alliances of two amazing marketing SaaS tools, RankWatch and WebSignals. Our special guest today is the founder of two amazing companies. One is a global business consultancy, We Are Drew. And the second is a digital invitation company called Invently. Andrés, welcome aboard. I’m so happy to host you today.


Thank you, Harshit. How are you?

I’m doing well, brother. I hope things are good with you. I saw in the news that Argentina is again having a lot of COVID cases. I hope you and your family are keeping safe.


Yeah, thank you. Thank you, and same to you. Here in Argentina, during this pandemic, I think that most companies have to rethink their processes. They’re the world. But it’s okay.

That’s good. Tell us a bit more about your journey. What were you like as a child, and how did you get to where you are today?


Okay, perfect. In 2016… No, I will start before. In 2013, I worked in my family’s bicycle manufacturing company. So I wasn’t trash in the area of purchases. I have a lot of stress on my side. So, one day, when I was washing the dishes, I had a paralysis in my face. Oh, God. Yes. With this situation, I said, Okay, Andrés, this is not for you. You had to rethink your life. I was so stressed. I was too young for this disease, and this is not a disease or problem. And I was thinking about the internet and social media and marketing. I didn’t know anything related. So I started to learn. I started to take a course at the University of Texas. When I saw this work, I realized that many companies don’t see the value of social media or don’t believe that their customers are there, but they, the entrepreneurs and CEOs, watch on Facebook and Instagram. So I say to them, Hey , if you are on social media, what do you think that your customers are on social media too? So your company has to be there.
We started with that. Some months later, I realized that social media is like entertainment work in that people only want to know what their friends do and what the humour or jokes are. And I understand that this digital marketing that was offered may die. So, I rethought and realized about the inbound methodology. I know HubSpot and its methodology; I didn’t have one dollar in my pocket. I took a loan from a bank to purchase the HubSpot licence. When I did that, I was so enthusiastic because I thought many companies have to or need to implement inbound in their companies because the inbound methodology is looking for not to sell products, not services. It’s more about helping people to solve their problems. So, with this approach, I fell in love with this methodology. When I paid for the licence of HubSpot, they were around $10,000. It’s huge money for me at this moment. So when I paid, I said, okay, this will be a bomb in Argentina because I was the only one that made that. Wow. The reality is that I only sold one licence in a year.
I can’t sell it because the companies don’t believe or don’t trust the methodology. They needed to understand how to help people increase their sales. So it’s to me. I fell into a depression similar to that. I have, sorry, bad feelings when one email enters my inbox. So topics like that, maybe you understand me, this situation. Six months after that, I’m talking about 2018, approximately Monday. Com, search for us because when you implement inbound, your main actions are in SEO. So I was writing these articles. I was creating all the content. Also, SEO takes more time than SEM or other actions. But in this depression that I was, the SEO was working, but I didn’t know. One random day, I received an email from monday.com; it’s an Israeli company similar to maybe.
They look a partnership in me, in Drew, and they say, Hey, I love how you communicate your things and your position. Can we partner? I said, Okay. I didn’t know monday.com. When I saw this, I started to think, Oh, I’m focused on inbound methodology, but there are many problems that the companies have because companies are a group of people or a team of people, depending on the culture. In many companies, technology may be a problem, not a facilitator. So when I started to think about it, I said that maybe inbound is like the tip of the iceberg, but there are many problems, such as processes, profit, etc. So, I’m talking about the team. We changed our value, our core value. I realized we are converting like a monday.com subsidiary, and I don’t want it. So, I changed the core values of the business. And I say, okay, we are Zul, and they are Monday, and they are a half squad. The company is entirely different. We are like doctors of commerce. I always make this example because it’s more visual to explain. When you go to a doctor, the doctor says to you, okay, what is the pain that you have?
There are many questions to understand your problem and pain, which is a role. And we see software like medicine for doctors. Doctors give you some medicine to solve any problems in your body. This is the software for us. In many cases, we provide software to our customers, and in other cases, we don’t. So we don’t sell software. We solve problems. This is our value.

I got you. From basically being like a full-service agency back in the day, you transformed your agency business and moved towards a broader category of business consultation altogether. That’s amazing. Your company has gone through many integrations with so much software there. That’s a pretty impressive portfolio. Also, please tell us more about how your team size grew and what precisely the hierarchy is right now, the organizational structure that you have. I’m sure that, again, you have a really good story, right?


Yes. I will finish the partnerships. We didn’t sign, sorry, a partnership that we’re looking for. For example, we don’t look at Monday, we don’t look at Freshworks, we don’t look at Aircall. They look for us, and they search for us because they propose us to be partners. And we see an alignment that we sign. I mentioned that because it’s relevant to our big business that big software or big companies like Freshworks are in NASDAQ or monday.com, too, and others. They are looking at a small company in Argentina to be a partnership to increase their market in LATAM. So, this phrase makes me feel proud.

Definitely, Andrés, you’re doing something so good; your website is your biggest case study. You did SEO so well. You did inbound methodologies implemented onto your site so well that big players from the industry are approaching you to partner with you. And it’s very impressive. And kudos to you and your team for all the hard work that they have done for so many years to help you scale.


Exactly. We pay attention not only to the software or potential partnerships. These days, I’m talking about three months ago, six months ago, similar to that; sorry for the imprecision. We started to translate our website into English, and we realized that many universities are interested in our content. Many professionals approach us to say, Hey, I like your content. What are you doing? And the way that we are doing it. Because we don’t make things… We don’t make incredible things or some secret things. We only have sense. I was at a lunch two months ago with entrepreneurs. They asked me, What is the main difference that you offer to our customers, to your customers, sorry? Is there a difference with another company or competitors that you have? And I answer that our main value is listening to our customers. If you are a doctor, if you go to a doctor and you realize that the doctor doesn’t listen to you, it would change the doctor.

For sure.


About the team. I started in, like I said, in 2013. And then I have in mind a similar structure that happens today with the three main areas, four, including me, four, I’m telling the direction or strategy of the company: marketing, sales, and operations. Marketing we see marketing, as I said before, as making content that people care about and understand, whether we write in or what we are delivering in their mailbox. And the main role of marketing is to bring people to the table.

Yep.


To understand if they have one problem or not. And we cover every symptom that our customers may have. For example, if we have one customer on logistics, we take their information, and we see or do research about the industry; we bring this information, not the private information, of course, because we sign NDAs with our customers. But I’m talking about industry data because if I have a problem with a manufacturing company, another company may have the same problem. We don’t say these problems have this company, no, but about the industry. After that, in sales, they are like the office that the doctors have before the surgery. They are like general doctors; they listen to you, they understand your situation, they understand your objective and what your goals are, and they try to understand and put you in a situation that is mostly uncomfortable because we ask questions that you don’t want to answer.
For example, you have a profit problem, and I’m talking to you about why you wake up every day, and you see in a… I don’t know. In Argentina or the Latin market, many entrepreneurs or company owners have this dilemma about whether they want this life with problems, with pressure, with these situations, or have to sell their company and be in Miami enjoying their life. Because in the tongue market, the security could be better. The problems of politics or economic factors are complex. We try to understand that we make uncomfortable questions to understand the problem. When we understand the problem, we make a project. A project, we say to you that the doctors give to you to solve your problem, this is the same.
Okay, the first step is if you have a commercial problem, mostly companies worldwide, mostly in LATAM, because we have a… How can I say this? In LATAM, they don’t want to go to a doctor. They don’t want to go. So they self-medicate. So, in companies, it happens the same. If I have a commercial problem, so if I’m an entrepreneur and I see an owner of the company, and I see that we have a commercial process or commercial problem in my company, I may try to buy a CRM.
We attend many companies that say, Hey, I want a CRM. I want a CRM. And we say, Why do you need a CRM? You don’t have a commercial process. It’s not established. So, this is the problem, not the CRM. The CRM needs to solve the problem for you today. And we analyze that, and we say, Okay, we write the commercial process and understand your industry. We make ideas that are typical problems that you can put in front of you and then analyze better. And you don’t need a CRM. We have many examples of that. If I sell complex products, for example, huge machines, I’m talking about the price of $2 million for each machine. In Excel, you can set your CRM because you sell one or two of these machines per year. You may buy a CRM because you have the money, but you don’t need it. So we gain with this sale, but we prefer to gain a customer who will not make a sale. We start to grow because… Sorry, Harshit, I will finish with the operations.

Sure. You have to be very honest with your customers. You try to make a proper diagnosis of the problem that they’re facing. And then you see whether the tool solves the problem or whether, with the help of your consultation, they can improve their processes by just structuring it well or changing it a bit. That’s brilliant. In an industry like ours, it’s everything. Actually, for every business, if you’re being honest if your business is trustworthy, you will reach good heights. You’ll always succeed. That’s brilliant.


Yes. After we make a project, I will tell you some topics that we are in the consulting industry. Consultants have one big problem. The problem with consulting is that it’s complex; show value before you contact me. We know that. And we know that most consulting companies chase you by the hour. If you have a problem, I listen to you, I make a project, and I say to you, Okay, I estimate that this project will take me 100 hours, and the price per hour is one dollar, for example. Or do you have an idea of the cost of this project; we changed that, and we said, Hey, how can my customer control me about these hours? I charge you by the hour. How can you verify that I invest 1,000 or 100 hours in you? It is not easy for you to verify that. So this is not a good method.

Not a good method.


Yeah, this is not good. So we take the risk, and we make a really good diagnosis and analysis of our customers. And we said an estimate, like a timeline for this project. And we say, Okay, you are today, and you want to be at this point. This takes around one year, six months, or three weeks. We tell you about the value of the project for you. And we put a number, for example, I don’t know, $5,000 for all the projects. And we say, Okay, $5,000 to be in this situation. And if this project takes one or two months more, I will only charge you a little because we arranged $5,000. If you were honest with me, I can make a really good analysis. If you lie to me or don’t mention it because you forget some important things, let’s start to talk again and say, Hey, Hasid, you told me that the problem is that, but it’s that. And we want to renegotiate. All customers are good at that. But I think, and I believe if I can take out or set up a price and don’t talk about the price.
Anytime in the consultancy process, I feel, and I believe, that you, like a customer, and we, like a consultant, are on the same side of the table. And we are a team. If I change you by the hour, you say I am like a provider, a supplier. Yeah. You will analyze me, and you will try to find the problem that I have in the process, but it’s your company, and we need to be on the same side of the table, not in front.

Since you mentioned that businesses in your target location could be more open to discussing their problem, how do you make the fire management people and CEOs open up with you? How do you do that? What’s the trick?


It’s the same as the doctor. If you go to a doctor and solve your problems, the doctor can help you. So we started to… First, I understand your question about the, hey, how do you do that the CEOs open their problems to you? I understand the question. But first, we sign an agreement, an NDA, with every customer. So, with this NDA, we provide a sure area between us. And we say, Okay, we need transparency. We need trust in us, and we need to be aligned to make a really good project because the only part with something to lose is you, like a customer. Because if you are lying to me with a problem and not trusting me, this relationship doesn’t work. We started with that. And we know, sorry, that business owners love to talk about their sons or love to talk about their companies like me at this moment. So yes, the business owner is open to discussing them because they want to improve their processes. They want to improve their operations. They want to take it to another level. The uncomfortable questions help in these situations.
And then another area I will take in the first question is this operation. An operation is like a surgery. They take the project, they know the customer, and they are hands-on on the project. They implement the software they need; they implement the process; they draw the following. It’s like the production area.
For us after that, in 50% of the consultancy, we send a survey to our customers with one question. How is everything? It’s good, one to ten. And depending on their answer, we correct some situations or not. I will give you an example. If you’re going to a hotel, for example, in the USA, you make the check-in, you leave your bags, you sleep, and the next day, you have breakfast, and you go. Two hours after you go into your inbox, you receive a survey, right? This survey is late because if your experience wasn’t good, sorry, the hotel can’t take action. I try with this 50 % of the consultancy, send this survey to try to revert some situations that you are not comfortable with. After that, if your project is closed and you are okay, we send a finished survey. It depends on the results. We take different actions to understand if you are not comfortable. We try to understand more about it, and we ask you other questions, what we can do better, and the others. And suppose your average is more than seven. In that case, these projects come to marketing again to make a success story and show to other people, another business owner, what was the problem that you had and what do we do to improve your comments.

That’s brilliant. That’s brilliant. Andrés, since for your own business, you have done so well with the inbound strategies. I would like to know a bit more about that, please. You mainly leverage you as a channel, or did you use any other channel to generate those inbound traffic and the whole funnel? And also, how do you go about planning a good inbound campaign? Your case study is the best thing.


Okay, our main channel is SEO. If all companies can think that marketing is so important, like sales, they understand that they don’t need the best salespeople, the best salesperson. Because our main active company is our marketing, 90% of our businesses come from SEO.

Wow, that’s brilliant.


So yes, it’s brilliant. It comes with much garbage, right? The students or companies that don’t fit with our requirements it’s normal. We have chat messages with the students wanting to solve their homework, and they ask us, Hey, can you help us? Help me with the homework? No. So we need help with that. But this is a good feeling because if we are helping the students, it’s because our content is relevant. If our content is relevant and the students come to our website, it is because one professor or one university recommends our content. So it’s like a chain. About the main channels that we use, there are two channels in the majority. One is SEO. SEO is the biggest, and I understand that it’s the main value of us. I think about what I said because, like I said before, if I have one problem with the sales area and I have zero salespeople, I can contract new salespeople, give them these leads, and they will close it. I don’t depend on sales, and most companies depend on their sales teams.

Outbound activities to reach out to new people, and so on.


Exactly, I have the vision, and my thoughts are that sales have to create a responsibility. They have to create their own business, not depend on marketing. So this is the other channel. We are prospecting every day. We do all down-range but with an inbound methodology. I said we found one customer on LinkedIn, and we tried to find their email, and we sent an email presenting ourselves. For example, if you have a logistics company and I have a lot of content, I may send you more information about their industry. And I try to catch your attention. This is the purpose. So after that, I can call you and ask, Hi, Harshit, how are you? Did you not receive my emails or something like that? No, I want to talk about the profit in logistics because you have similar problems like that: that one, two, three. And you say, No, I don’t have these problems. Okay, Harshid, have a nice day. Sorry for interrupting you. Bye-bye. But the most common thing is, Hi, Hasheed, how are you? Do you have this problem? X, Y, Z? I don’t know.
And you say, Yes, I have this problem, and it has been five years. I can’t resolve that. Do you make that? Yes. Can we schedule a meeting next week? Yes. Okay. Make this meeting. In this meeting, we explain our main value and our main process. And after that, they realize that we can help them. Then, after this consultancy process, they understand if these people’s sales are different. They catch my attention. So this helps us to improve the process.
Regarding the channels, SEO is the first, and the second is the prospect. We want to work with Coca-Cola, for example, or another company and we search for the best person that I want to talk to. I found the email; I sent an email, I called you, and I tried to make a meeting without disturbing you. We should be more consultative. Is the word right? Yeah, definitely. This is the channel.

Andrés, one of the biggest parts now when it comes to SEO is generating. And even before generating and planning the content altogether. What exactly should I write about? How do you build that momentum with your clients and with your own agency and consultation business as well? How do you decide what topic you should write about, what keywords you should target, and where planning goes? Then, understanding you and based on your planning, you generate content. But are there any tools that you use to help facilitate this process?


It’s a hard question that you’re making me. Planning in SEO is complex because you have to make a decision. Some decisions are good, and some decisions are bad. We understand that if we are talking about ourselves every day, the people don’t want our services, what we are offering, and years in the market, they don’t care about it. We research our customers and their industries, and we try to spread this content by making e-books, guides, and articles. Last year, on the first of January of last year, I made an order that I wanted one article per day, including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. When I decide, I’m determining if we can provide more value to our subscribers. There could be more chances to do many things. First, to position Google better in another way.

And you are trying to put your business in that specific domain.


Exactly. About the planning, we made one year for a year planning of the marketing area. In the first six months, we put all our attention into three or four industries. And we said, Okay, we can make a webinar for this topic and this other. It’s like teamwork because it’s not just a marketing topic; it’s all about the company. In this planning, sales, direction, management, and operations have a really important role because they are at war with the customer, and the customer is one problem. This is our plan. I wonder if we are doing good things or not. In SEO, you must make decisions today, and you don’t know their result after six months.

That’s true. Also, I would love to click here on one of the most successful case studies that you had so far, either by delivering a digital marketing solution or with your consultation. Anything that you did that brilliantly helped your client grow dramatically and something that you would share.


Okay. I will tell you a really good story. We had a customer in Mexico who provided devices for years to listen better. Exactly. So they produce these devices, and they sell only in Mexico. We made a project with them. I can talk about the details, and I can talk about the information related to the project, but they want to improve the commercial process and how they organize the delivery of the product. Okay. The triumphant story and the funny story were a project of three months, similar to that. With a price of six or not $9,000. Okay. When we finished the process after the third month, I received a call from the business owner of this customer, and they said to me, Hey, Andrés, I will send you $3,000 more.
Because you provide more value than I expected, I will transfer you $3,000 more. I know the price was 9,000, but I feel bad about this number, and I need to transfer you. I said, Okay, Carlos, transfer me. If you transfer 3,000, I will transfer you 3,000. What? Because Carlos, the price was close. I won’t receive the extra money you must pay us because it’s not in the contract. And the customer, I remember-.

They were very delighted because of the experience with your solution.


But I didn’t accept that. He said inside; wow, I want to transfer 30% more of the project. And they answer me, No? These things don’t happen. These types of things happen daily, every month, with different customers. For example, he sends us wines or whiskeys or gifts because they are, so they like to know what you say.

That’s wonderful, Andrés. Because the agency has been in business for around nine years now, any bad experience that you had with any of your clients and some lessons that you learned from that day, we’d love to know that.


I can mention one problem, but I won’t mention the software and the companies. But one of the problems that we had was with one customer that we have in the UK, and we offered them to improve their processes with the software. This software doesn’t provide us support for them, or we count on this support, and we realize that this support doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter with the customer requirements. I remember having an interim meeting about this with the old company and trying to understand how to solve it because we thought that it was a software problem, but the customer wanted a solution. Okay. Yes. See, they wanted a solution. I don’t care if it’s a software problem or a process problem. I am contacting you to solve this problem, which still needs to be solved. Since this problem, we try to understand how to solve the problems differently. Okay, what happens if, for example, Microsoft doesn’t exist or Google doesn’t exist? I must try to solve your problem, not depending on the software. It’s hard to think about it, but we try to understand these scenarios because if you have your company and you depend on Google, and you depend on Facebook or any platform, it could be better for you. It could be a better decision for you.

More or less like a risk management factor view, all the other external factors that influence or alleviate your client’s problem solve those scenarios. That’s pretty clever and fascinating. Because when you look into so many different angles and go about it. That’s brilliant. I think, Andrés, you’re coming to an end here. Please, any final thoughts that you would like to share with us?


We are taking a really important role in our customers and the companies that we are talking about. I have or the people who have had to make a transformation in themselves about the digital transformation. Because of every meeting I was involved in, I realized that many business owners think that the things of today are the things forever. And every day, things change. Every day, the process changes. And they need to understand that the people change. So if the people change, your customers change. If the people change, your company changes. If the people change, the process has to change. So, understand that it’s hard for business owners because business owners, we need to try to prevent some situations or plan some results. We need to keep some indicators or KPIs in a way that we need to see these KPIs to make decisions to make a difference. This is my final thought because business owners need to change this mindset and feel comfortable with the change, and this is challenging.

Being adaptive to change is closely related to your growth. If you’re very strict with your certain ideologies and could be like anything in life, you tend to limit yourself and not be flexible, and that is something that sabotages your growth. I admire the customer-centric company that you’ve been running for years now. I wish good luck to you and your team. May you reach all new heights, keep doing what you do best, and keep up with the good work.


Thank you, Harshit, for your desires. I desire the same for you. Thank you for it and this interview.

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