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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistTue, Oct 8, 2013 5 min read

How Inbound Marketing Is Just Like Long Distance Running

jogging and inbound resized 600I like to run. Well, I like to be done running more than I like actually running, but I think you get the picture.

The other day, while on a short four mile jog, it occurred to me that inbound marketing and long distance running have a lot in common.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to be a runner to connect with the stories I'm about to share.

It’s all mental – When you run, the more you think about the run, the harder it is. But when you focus your mind on other things, you get into what runners call, “the zone,” and before you know it, the run is over. Inbound marketing is similar.

When you try to figure it out as you go, it's a lot harder. Instead, work from a plan. This allows you to focus on being creative and innovative, instead of worrying about the daily details.

Break it up into smaller chunks – When you run, the worst thing to do is to think about how long you have to go, which makes every step that much harder. However, when you think about getting to the next mini milestone, such as the next mailbox, the next mile marker, the next street sign – the run becomes faster and easier.

Inbound marketing works the same way. When you look at all the things you need to do to get an inbound marketing program to produce leads, it can be overwhelming. Daily blog posts, monthly emails, monthly videos, new landing pages, keyword selection and optimization, new e-books and making sure all of these items get onto your social media sites ... wow, that’s a lot of work.

But when you break your work down into monthly, weekly and even daily activities, and you devise a plan to ensure you hit your business goals, it gets dramatically easier.

Track your progress – People who exercise regularly love to see progress. Did I run faster? Did I run farther? One of my favorite quotes is from Vince Lombardi, “If you’re not keeping score, you're just practicing.” Just like running, you have to set goals and track your progress when executing inbound marketing. How many visitors are we driving to our site? How many leads did that traffic generate? What is our conversion rate? Once you start tracking these items daily, weekly and monthly, you will see your performance increasing month over month.

Train for longer runs – No one wakes up, walks outside and decides to run a marathon that day. You have to train for such long, strenuous runs. You do that by executing a series of runs, each run longer than the previous, with many shorter, recovery runs built into your schedule. Eventually, your body develops the stamina to handle a longer run.

The same holds true for inbound marketing. You are not going to start your inbound marketing program today by writing three blog posts, producing two e-books and creating a series of short videos, all by 5 p.m. You have to plan out your schedule, build up to a pace that drives results and monitor your performance along the way. Over time, you and your inbound marketing team will get to a point where your efforts start driving significant results – although be aware, it takes time.

Get the right gear – Since running is such a mental challenge, being in the right frame of mind helps. But having the right sneakers and the right clothing aids in your performance, as well. Lighter sneakers help you feel less fatigued, adding a Nike FuelBand to your run gives you extra data to track your progress. You need the right gear for inbound marketing, too. Marketing analytics, automation and website tools help you deliver a better, more responsive inbound marketing effort. Without this gear? Sure, you can run an inbound marketing program, but your results won't be as dramatic.

Start Today Tip – Inbound marketing is not a "start today, see results tomorrow" activity. The more you do, the more results you should expect to see. If you are like most of our clients, you haven’t been doing much in the areas of content creation, lead nurturing, social media and website optimization. But the sooner you start, the faster you can expect to see results. Get off the sofa and start training for your company’s inbound marketing effort today.

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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.