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Mike Lieberman, CEO and Chief Revenue ScientistMon, Feb 2, 2015 9 min read

Inbound Marketing: A Story That Helps Explain It To Newbies

Inbound Marketing NewcomersI’m sure that some of our clients sense the frustration in my voice when we’re talking about inbound marketing. It’s always been hard for me to be as patient as necessary when explaining the hows and whys behind inbound. To me, it seems so simple, so apparent, so perfect, with such elegant solutions.

At the same time, I completely understand why it’s hard for people who don't have my perspective and experience to be as clear on it as I am. So, our team works hard every day to educate people on the nuances of inbound. We make sure that we explain what we’re doing, how it works and why we’re doing it. Our goal is to educate everyone we work with, transform everyone into an inbound evangelist and make sure everyone knows what we know.

In my quest to explain inbound better and be more patient with people who don’t understand it, I’ve found a handful of stories that do a wonderful job of helping people wrap their heads around how inbound works. I thought I'd share one of those with you today.

The Meeting

I get around, entrepreneurially speaking. What I mean by that is I talk to a lot of CEOs. Since marketing is my thing, many of them want to discuss their marketing plans. I was in one of these meetings about seven or eight years ago, when the marketing person for this particular company was going on and on about her extensive marketing plan. This company had advertising (both TV and radio), trade shows, direct mail, print advertising, public relations, collateral and, of course, the corporate website. She presented a well-thought-out and completely reasonable plan – one that the rest of the people in the meeting thought very highly of.

The Question

As she was wrapping up, I wanted to clarify a few items. So, I had a few questions. My first was, "How much is this plan going to cost?" She had the answer, and while I don’t remember the exact number, it was in the neighborhood of $500,000 for the first year. My second question was, "What results do you expect from the $500,000 investment?" This question required a slightly more theoretical answer that, in the end, sounded something like, "There’s no way to know exactly what we’re going to get for the investment."

My next set of questions was a bit more probing: "So, you’re suggesting that you invest all of this money in the hopes that you’ll get in front of enough people, that they'll notice your advertising, that they'll need your services right at that moment and that they'll remember you long enough to call you so you can sell them your stuff?" My next question was the money question: "What about the people who want and need what you do right now – why don’t we focus on them?"

She had an answer, and that answer was reasonable: “Well, those people are included in the other audiences we’re targeting.” Makes sense, but: “What if we could just focus on those people who want what you have now? Wouldn’t that be a lot less money, and wouldn’t we drive many more leads for the company?”

People Are Already Looking

Then, I started with the show-and-tell part of my contribution. I said, "Tell me how you describe your business in a few words." The entire room started throwing out words, and I quickly began Googling them on my laptop. Before I knew it, we had the company’s services down to about two or three keywords. Within a few seconds, we found that over 100,000 people were searching for these keywords every single month. “What if we started focusing on just these people?”

The rest of the meeting went something like this ... People wanted to know: Would this be less expensive? Could we track it? Would the people be better qualified? Would they close faster? Are there new marketing tactics we'd need to use to get in front of these 100,000 people? The answers: Yes, yes, yes, yes and, of course, yes.

The Old Way Vs. The New Way

After the meeting, I pulled the marketing manager aside and said, "Your recommendations weren’t wrong. They just didn’t match the way people buy today. They might have worked, but they would have required a lot of investment for a much lower return. They weren’t measurable, so it’s likely that you'd never know what worked and what didn’t. There was a lot of waste in the old-school tactics you were recommending." Her response was typical of what we hear time and time again: "But, that’s how I’ve always done it."

"I know." I told her. "It's OK. It’s time to learn a new way to do it. The new way is measurable, it’s repeatable, it’s scalable, it’s highly efficient and, most important, it focuses on the people who want to talk to you right now instead of those who may want to talk to you someday."

It Just Feels Uncomfortable

Look, I get it. You’ve never done it before, but that doesn’t make it wrong. It just makes it new. What you need to consider is that we don’t buy like we did 10 years ago. We don’t need a sales person to help us make a decision. In fact, we would prefer NOT to have a sales person. We want to do our own research, get comfortable with our own ideas and ask other people (like us) what they’ve done and how their experiences worked out. Then, when we’re almost there, we want to speak with someone to validate our decision and help us with the stuff we couldn’t get from the Web, like contracts, pricing or logistical details that are unique to them and their situation.

The sooner you match your marketing and your sales to the way people want to be marketed and sold to today, the faster you’ll see increased leads, decreased sales cycles, better close rates, more referrals, higher average sales and your business not only hitting, but also exceeding your revenue targets month over month.

Start Today Tip – Most of you reading this are interested in inbound to some extent, but I bet you're still just thinking about inbound marketing for your business. The one tip I can give you today is that it takes time. Building the machine takes time. Getting the machine running takes time. Optimizing the machine takes time. The sooner you start, the sooner you get to see the leads come in, the revenue goal be exceeded and the company grow. It works, every time, and it can work for your company, too.

 How To Crack The Code To Inbound Marketing

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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.