Considering Inbound Marketing? Either Go All In Or Don’t Go At All
In a shout-out to the Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey, who passed away yesterday, I wanted to give you a perspective on inbound marketing that might not be something people talk about openly. In our experience, the CEOs and marketing execs who bring us in often have a short-term perspective on their marketing approach.
What I mean by that is they know what they did last year didn’t work like they expected, but they don’t know what else to do. So, they consider “trying” inbound marketing. The verb “trying” has the connotation that they’ll do it for a while and see what happens. This feels a little like an audition to us.
Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach. I know it’s the legacy approach. I know that this is how marketing has been purchased since the beginning of time. We’ll try this SEO firm and see how they do. We’ll redo our website and see if that helps. We’ll buy this email management system and send some emails that might do the trick. But in the end, none of these really work as expected. I know because I used to be a VP of Marketing that behaved exactly like I'm describing here.
And here’s why that never works.
For Once, Think Strategically
Marketing and sales are the lifeblood of your business. Yet, they get very little attention when it comes to thinking about how you market and how you sell. Marketing is an expense. It’s the first line to get cut when things get rocky. Sales is a necessary evil. Salespeople are difficult to control, and they get paid too much for what they do. All sound familiar?
If, however, you were looking at sales and marketing as the engine that drives your business, you’d be tuning the engine, keeping it serviced and looking for ways to upgrade it so it ran faster and more efficiently. You’d be investing in it.
Inbound marketing and inbound sales present your company with an opportunity to be one of the first on your block to build a revenue engine for your business. For the first time in the history of business, the tools, techniques, people, companies and software are in place to create this competitive advantage, this corporate asset, a predictable, scalable, repeatable way to generate leads and revenue for your business.
If only you’d see it like this.
It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint
Can this remarkable feat of business acumen be done in two days, two weeks or two months? No. Doing what we described above takes years. That’s years of hard work, of optimization, of building and rebuilding until you get it right. Will you see early indicators that it’s working? Yes, and those can be realized in months, not years.
But, this effort is long term. It’s a marathon. It has to be THE WAY you market your business. You have to be committed over the long haul, no matter what speed bumps, challenges or issues present themselves along the way. You have to be ALL IN. Starting this today and then bailing out in six or even 12 months is a major mistake.
It Takes All The Tactics Working Together
This type of marketing is not about one or two secret tactics. Marketing has never been a solo act. Marketing is about collecting the right tactics, deploying them correctly and optimizing them over time to create a concerto of highly tuned messages that cascade into the market, connect with your best prospects and move them to reach out to you.
Inbound marketing requires even more orchestration than traditional marketing. The tools required to help your business get found are highly complex. They change every day, and your competition shifts the ground under your feet weekly. Once your company is found, some of those same tools have to be leveraged in different ways to turn those anonymous visitors into leads for your business. Then, even more tools need to be deployed to nurture those leads until they’re ready to speak with you.
Finally, the last set of tools needs to be used by your sales team to continue the educational experience we so purposefully crafted for those prospects, all the way up to the time your prospect turns into your next new customer.
This is an extremely complex and complicated exercise. This effort is different for every single company. Getting it right takes time and patience. It’s more like building a rocket ship to take us to the moon for the very first time. We’ll get there, but you have to be patient.
You Need Strategy More Than Tactics
I just spent four paragraphs talking about tactics and now I’m talking about strategy being more important. That must mean strategy is very important, and it is. We’ve seen brilliant inbound programs fail because the company had nothing interesting to say or was unwilling to change their go-to-market stories.
You can’t be successful without a solid marketing strategy. I don’t care how great your product is or how innovative your services are or how brilliant your delivery model is. If no one knows about it or they can’t understand it in ten seconds, you’re lost. Brian Halligan is often quoted as saying, “Inbound marketing has more to do with the size of your brain than the size of your wallet.” We could not agree more. Use your brains to make sure your business is remarkable and has stories people remember (and, more importantly, share).
What Other Options Do You Have?
As you wrap up this article, I want you to keep this in mind. You don’t have many other options when it comes to marketing. Most of the old-school tactics are dying a slow death. Here are a couple of examples.
- You could make cold calls, but who answers their phone today unless they see a caller ID number they recognize?
- You could go to more trade shows, but who really goes to those – decision makers or SWAG collectors?
- You could invest in pay per click, but more and more people run ad blockers on their laptops and devices, so your ad will be seen much less than you expected. Plus, pay per click gets more expensive every month as you bid against yourself.
- You could buy print ads, but there’s no guarantee anyone sees those, and if they do, so what? There's no action to be taken on them.
- You could send unsolicited emails from a list you purchased, but those typically end up in spam folders or the trash can because the people you sent them to don’t know you.
- You could send post cards or letters, but those probably end up in the vertical file before they even get to the decision makers.
- Radio ads? Satellite radio doesn’t run ads.
- TV ads? DVR means no one watches them.
Wayne Gretzky made a career out of “skating to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” That’s how you need to think about your marketing and sales. As the great Glenn Frey said, “You can check in anytime you want, but you should (I know the lyric is can) never leave.” That’s how we feel about inbound. Go in, but make sure you go ALL IN!
Start Today Tip – Take a long, hard look at your sales and marketing approach. Is it working as you’d like? Are you impressed with what it’s doing for your business? If there’s any hesitancy at all, you owe it to yourself and your business to look closely at inbound. But, don’t make the mistake most make and “try it” for a year. You have to believe in your bones that this is the de facto way in which businesses will be marketed in the next 20 years, and you have to be excited about the possibilities if you get there first. Now get your inbound team together and start building your Revenue Machine!
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