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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistWed, May 11, 2016 8 min read

Can You Get Results From Inbound Marketing Without Strategy?

Marketing Strategy Is Still A Requirement If You Want Leads

Inbound Marketing Requires Strategy And OrchestrationOver the course of 13 years, we’ve had conversation after conversation with CEOs who are resistant to the idea of marketing strategy before inbound marketing tactics. Just about everyone thinks the best approach to marketing is to start executing tactics. No one would like that to be true more than I would.

However, I’ve thought through this idea many, many times and find it extremely difficult to feel good about this approach. This is especially challenging for me when it comes to inbound marketing. Inbound requires a collection of so many tactics all executed in an orchestrated way. If one tactical input is wrong, the entire program suffers.

Let me illustrate by showing you what should go into an inbound strategy plan and how each tactic is interconnected.

What An Inbound Marketing Strategy Looks Like

There’s a reason our inbound strategy work takes two months: It’s extensive. As I look through what we do in those two months, I know it’s impossible to take out any of this work. Here’s a week-by-week breakdown of what we deliver. Tell me: What could be skipped?

  • Week 1 – Persona development
  • Week 2 – Persona pains and the solutions our clients deliver to remove those pains
  • Week 3 – Differentiation, or (as we describe it) that which makes your business remarkable
  • Week 4 – Creation of stories that connect prospects to your company (this is the fuel for your marketing)
  • Week 5 – Search strategy, or defining the keywords, keyword phrases and questions we should use to get your business found, and funnel analytics to uncover what your marketing and sales funnel must deliver in order for you to hit your business goals
  • Week 6 – Website strategy, or defining the work needed on the website to turn it into a lead-generation machine, and content strategy, or identifying what we need to publish to drive more visitors to your new website and turn those visitors into leads
  • Week 7 – Lead nurturing strategy, which involves creating the email marketing and workflow recommendations to stay close to leads until they’re ready to talk to your sales team
  • Week 8 – Expected results: visitor goals, conversion goals, lead goals and projections for a rolling 12-month period

The detailed planning exercise above should look like a house of cards: Pull out one element, and the entire program collapses. How can you do inbound without an understanding of what needs to be done on your website? How can you get people to your site if you don’t know your search strategy to get found more frequently? How can you turn visitors into leads without a well-thought-out and planned content strategy?

Anyone running an inbound marketing program without a comprehensive plan like this is going to produce less-than-optimal results. That’s based on 13 years of inbound marketing experience and practice.

The Orchestration Of Inbound Marketing Tactics

The idea of an integrated marketing campaign is old news. Everyone knows the message has to be consistent across all the tactics you’re executing. That’s all well and good, but inbound campaigns require not only integration, but also orchestration on the level of a symphony. I use the word "orchestration" by design.

An orchestra with musicians who are not perfectly aligned sounds horrible. That same orchestra perfectly tuned creates beautiful music and a wonderful concert experience. Inbound is exactly the same. If one tactic is off, the program will underperform. If you skip a tactic, the program will underperform. This is what happens with most inbound marketing campaigns because the people executing them are simply less experienced with inbound.

Let me illustrate:

  • If you have the wrong stories, no matter what marketing you do, your messages won’t resonate with your prospects, and you won’t get leads.
  • If your business is not clearly differentiated from your competitors, no amount of marketing is going to help your prospects know why they want to do business with you, and you won’t get leads.
  • If your website doesn’t deliver an amazing experience for the visitors, you won’t get leads.
  • If you don’t have compelling content on your website, you won’t convert your visitors, and you won’t get leads.
  • If you don’t know what keywords, keyword phrases and questions you need to highlight for your prospects, your new website won’t be found, and you won’t get leads.
  • If you don’t know how to leverage content through social media, you’ll have less-than-expected reach when you publish content, you’ll have less visitors to your website and you won’t get leads.
  • If you don’t have any performance expectations around the program you’re deploying, you won’t have any idea about whether you’re on track, and you’ll be looking at disappointing results.

Do you see where we’re going with this? Every single instrument in the orchestra has to be perfect for the music to be beautiful. Every single tactic in the inbound program has to be perfect for the leads to be beautiful. This is why there are so many businesses that have had less-than-amazing experiences with inbound marketing. It’s very difficult to get right.

This is also why I’ve written many times about businesses being patient with inbound, looking at it as a strategic investment in their businesses, being long-term oriented and affording the people helping you with inbound the time it takes to plan it, build it and then optimize it to deliver real business results.

Start Today Tip – If you’ve skipped or shortcut the planning process, that might be why your program is underperforming. If your inbound program is missing some important tactics, that might be why your program is underperforming. Take an objective look at what you’re executing, how you’re executing and what you did to orchestrate your program in the beginning (before you started executing). If you find something missing, you can fix that without major pain. Make sure you have the resources you need to make the fix and then retrofit it within your current set of tactics.

Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!


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.