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Exit Design chooses Copper over HubSpot, again — and they aren’t looking back

Why the experiential design firm switched back to Copper after a disappointing HubSpot experience

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Why did one creative agency return to Copper after trying HubSpot? Because the hype didn’t live up to reality.

Exit Design and their sister studio J2 stand out in the creative world for their unique approach to environmental design based on the visitor’s “Touchpointing journey” and purpose-driven branding, respectively. Exit Design creates experiential and environmental graphic designs using an Empathic Insight approach based on walking in the visitor’s shoes at each point where they might engage with people, places and services in the built environment. J2, a branding agency, creates transformative brands and visual identity systems using deep research and strategy that build lasting attraction and affinity.

For a smaller team with about 30 employees across the two studios, their work speaks volumes — and their need for a streamlined CRM platform first brought them to Copper years ago.

The agency had been on the Copper platform since late 2017, and as they’ve grown, they were looking for a system that would provide more functionality around cold outreach to help them achieve their updated demand generation goals. So Exit Design moved straight to HubSpot, which several colleagues highly recommended. But the team quickly realized the platform was far below their expectations.

Kelly Jennings, Studio Director for both brands, weighed in on the team’s experience with the two CRM systems and what differentiates Copper from HubSpot. Here’s their story:

Is the grass always greener?

Exit Design and J2 chose Copper the first time around for its simplicity and well-designed reporting. After hearing colleagues rave about HubSpot, they moved into that new platform, and the transition was far from smooth.

During a lengthy HubSpot implementation process, the team faced a difficult learning curve. In total, Kelly estimates that they collectively spent at least 60 hours trying to import data — without ever completing the setup to their satisfaction. “It became a full-time job to get HubSpot built in a way that was usable to our small team. It wasn’t feasible for us to put in that much time.”

After months trying to get up to speed with HubSpot, they still struggled with the platform, and decided to go back to Copper.

"It took us 3 months at HubSpot and it took us 3 days to get up and running in Copper. Copper is so much easier for a small team." -Kelly Jennings, Studio Director

Kelly and team missed Copper’s simplicity and effectiveness. On top of that, the cost of HubSpot was much higher, and they were paying for features that they’d never use. For Exit Design’s budget as a small business, Copper allowed them to do a lot more with significantly less groundwork.

It didn’t take the team long to decide to move back to Copper — it was easier to use, more cost-effective and better suited for a small team.

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A sweet reunion

Returning to Copper was a relief.

“The onboarding process was customized to us, and it was a real person without a rigid script who took us through each step. The entire team appreciated Copper’s hands-on, personalized approach.”

Their Copper onboarding specialist, Vikki, talked over their needs for the two sister brands and helped them tweak their setup. Based on her recommendations, they:

  • Created two separate accounts to allow for a cleaner workflow. They now have one account for Exit Design and another for J2. With this new setup, they’re able to use pipelines associated with the two brands much more efficiently without any confusion between the two studios.

  • Changed how they use pipelines. The team created two separate pipelines in each account, separating out leads and opportunities. The drag-and-drop pipeline stages are a favorite: the team members can visualize their deals and quickly see where each one is in the sales process.

  • Set up automated tasks for pipeline stages. Now every time a deal moves to a new stage in the pipeline, automatic tasks are created for the new stage — triggering timely follow-ups and helping nurture leads down the pipeline more effectively, with less manual work. It’s now easier for the team to track their deals and follow up with clients at the right time.

  • Created an automated trigger for contact type. Copper now changes any contact to inactive status (changes contact type automatically after 1 year)

With the Copper pipelines running smoothly, the results have been tangible. Both teams are working more deals and logging a greater number of prospect calls on a weekly basis.

Copper vs. HubSpot: A comparison

The ease of use with Copper cannot be understated, Kelly explains.

“In Copper a lot of what we needed was already built for us, whereas in HubSpot, we had to be the architect of the system to make it work for us. What we needed was what Copper had already built. It feels very intentional; we’re tracking all this data and learning from it.”

And we can’t forget about the pipelines, which are a team favorite. “When an opportunity closes, you just drag it down to Won or Lost — and magic things happen! It feels like a really great end to the pipeline journey.”

Up next with Copper

Looking ahead, the team is exploring integrations with LinkedIn and Slack and working on developing a regular outreach cadence. They’re looking forward to using Copper’s email features, including Email Sequences and the MailChimp integration.

And most importantly, they’re open to learning and growing with the platform. “The continuing education is what we were missing last time, so we’re really trying to lean in this time around,” says Kelly. As their needs evolve, Kelly and team are confident in growing their plans and vision with Copper.

The Copper team’s understanding of Exit Design and J2's needs, budget and workflow has set the stage for a long and prosperous relationship. Finding their way back to Copper has been a sweet reunion indeed — and we’re excited to see what the future has in store for them.

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