All week we have been giving you insight, input and an insider’s perspective on Inbound Marketing. Today, we're going to share with you what most inbound marketers miss when creating an inbound marketing program for their company.
You shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you that in a recent survey of 1,000 business owners 86% of them admitted they didn’t have a marketing strategy or written marketing plan for their companies. So, it wouldn’t be a stretch to guess that inbound marketing suffers from the same flaw.
Inbound marketing is not a silver bullet and when it’s executed without a sound marketing strategy it can fail miserably.
Think about it, while inbound marketing talks about content, landing pages, calls to action, and using social media to become part of the conversation, the question still begs to be answered: what content? What do I write about? What should my blog posts be about? What landing pages do I need? What should those pages say about my business? All of these questions are typically answered in a marketing strategy document.
Just as important is when? How often do I need to blog? How often do I need a new landing page? How many CTAs (calls to action) do I need and how often should new ones be created? How often should I be putting a new video on YouTube or updating my Facebook page?
If we were going to bake a cake without a recipe, the chances of that cake tasting amazing and looking spectacular are slim. The same holds true for inbound marketing. Without a plan and a strategy the chances of success are slim.
Now let’s talk about the plan. What should it include? The marketing of 2012 is exponentially more complicated than the marketing of 2002 or even 2010. With the changes to Google's search algorithm, the influx of social media, and the changes in buyer behavior, marketing now requires an intricate collection of well integrated buyer oriented marketing tactics to be truly successful. We call this a Marketing Machine™.
Your plan has to start with a detailed identification of your target market. What are their demographics? What are their psychographics? When we do planning for clients we create Personas for a client’s target market.
These Personas actually include pictures of our client’s target buyer, a personality profile, and a name (see the picture to the right of Bob, the guy who buys riding lawn mowers). This helps us keep the marketing messaging focused on the target buyer.
Next, you have to create compelling messages to attract your perfect client. These messages come from a deep understanding of the target buyers “pain.” For B2B buyers this pain is usually associated with their job and a challenge directly related to their position or industry. For B2C buyers this could be a personal pain, or a desire to achieve a certain status level.
Once the pains are identified, then your specific solutions can be matched to those pains AND if you have been following along, your company’s remarkable solutions get presented in a way that makes your business the obvious choice to do business with.
This sequence is important.
Pain --> Solution --> Remarkable Aspect --> Validation
Since we haven’t talked about validation yet, let's do it now. Your prospects don’t believe a word you say. They have to see that other people, just like them, have had positive experiences with your company. That’s why testimonials, success stories, case studies, and references are so important. They have to be front and center in everything you do.
When you create the plan you decide up front what to blog about, what to include in your emails, what press releases are necessary, what videos need to be shot, what white papers or free reports need to be written, what new website pages are necessary, and what keywords you need to include in all your content projects.
Once all the thinking is done upfront, the execution becomes much, much easier. If you want to see how this works, consider creating an editorial calendar for your blog. Now instead of sitting down at your computer each day and asking yourself, “What am I going to write about today?” You have the topics preplanned and you simply have to get started. This approach never fails. Try it today.
A planning process like this also allows us to set some expectations for program performance and then track the program against your expectations. Now you can see when you over-perform or under-perform. Once you gain this insight you can make on the fly, real time adjustments to the program that increase performance. It works like a charm and it’s what we do for clients every single day.
Start Today Tip – It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. Start your planning process today. Give yourself a week to get your plan together. Get team members to work with you. Their insight and support will make your plan stronger and more reflective of the real world. You should be realistic, if you don’t think you have the time, or the team, then consider having it done for you. It will deliver the greatest return on any investment you will ever make in marketing.
Square 2 Marketing - Leading the Reality Marketing and Inbound Marketing Revolution!
Posted By Author Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist
Mike is the CEO and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2. He is passionate about helping people turn their ordinary businesses into businesses people talk about. For more than 25 years, Mike has been working hand-in-hand with CEOs and marketing and sales executives to help them create strategic revenue growth plans, compelling marketing strategies and remarkable sales processes that shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.