Inbound Marketing Is Hard, But We’re Determined To Be Great
I’m an introspective person, and that personality trait is reflected back on our business. I always want to be better. So, we’re always looking at what we do, how we do it and ways to improve it for our clients, our team members and our partners.
If you understand that about me, you’ll also understand why I’m so bothered by our inability to help every client. Why can’t we get them to change? Why can’t we get them to trust us? Why won’t they do what, to us, is painfully obvious? When I look back at what we’ve done as an inbound marketing agency, it seems the greatest failure is that we couldn’t help more people and more businesses to see the light we see.
Changing To Inbound Marketing Is Hard
Human beings present a whole set of unique challenges. We’re afraid of change. Things that are unknown are scary, and they make us uncomfortable, anxious and defensive. As an inbound agency, we come along and tell CEOs that everything they’ve known is changing. The rules are different. The tools you used to use to market your company and sell your products/services are all obsolete. That even sounds scary to me.
But, the world changes whether we like it or not. Whether we embrace it or not, it changes around us. Remember the bag phone, Blockbuster video, the VCR, Borders book stores, newspaper classifieds, land lines, printed maps, AOL, fax machines, long distance charges and public phones? They are all gone, or almost gone. We keep talking about getting rid of our home land line because the only ones who use it are telemarketers, and we NEVER answer it.
I know change has to be inspired internally. People have to want to change. But, we also have to be better at explaining to CEOs why now is the time to change, why moving to inbound and away from outbound is the right move. We need to communicate why their businesses need to be remarkable in order to stay in business, to thrive instead of simply survive and to avoid becoming the next Blockbuster or Borders.
Inbound Marketing Requires Education
Changing to something that we don’t fully understand is also challenging. While outbound might not be working like it used to, everyone understands the ideas behind placing ads, sending out post cards and making cold calls. You can touch and see the ads, put your hands on the post cards and look at call reports. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes, so maybe these tactics do work.
Even if you think they work, they’re not going to be working for long. More accurately, they’re going to be working less and less every single day. Eventually, there will be no land lines or office numbers to dial. We have to be even better at helping CEOs understand the hows and whys behind inbound and the importance of moving to it today.
Inbound Marketing Requires Patience
CEOs and business owners are not patient people. They want results today. Short-term gains are often achieved at the expense of longer-term strategic initiatives. Today, our best clients are still those leaders who see inbound as a long-term investment, as a strategic move that is positioning them for long-term growth. They see building a sustainable, repeatable, predictable lead and revenue-generating machine as a program worth investing in – not for a couple of months, but for a couple of years. They’re willing to be patient as we plan it, build it, implement it and optimize it. They know this is going to take time and that the results might not be earth-shattering this year – but that next year, they’ll be in a position to dramatically reap the rewards.
We need to do a better job of telling that story and finding the people who hear it and get excited about the possibilities. We need to work with more visionaries and less “what have you done for me latelys.”
Marketing As A Strategic Investment, Not An Expense To Be Cut
Having been in marketing for my entire career, I’ve been through the rounds of budget cuts when times are tough, and marketing almost always bears the brunt of those cuts. That always seemed odd to me. Why cut the engine that drives revenue when times are tight? It seems like that’s the best time to double down and push through. There is actually tons of research that proves companies that invest in marketing during a recession grow three times as fast after the recession is over.
So, if you’re a couple of months into your inbound marketing program and the results are slower to realize than you expected, don’t make your first move to cut. Instead, stick it out and let your inbound team deliver as planned. In fact, I’m going to tell you to NEVER cut or stop your inbound marketing. I’m telling you this because I’ve seen companies stop their programs time and time again, only to realize it was just about to work or started working shortly after they pulled their investment.
Unfortunately, starting it up again is like starting from scratch. The momentum is lost, and everything has to be reworked, taking more time and more money. Inbound works, always – as long as you let the team who knows inbound do it, as long as the program is properly funded and as long as you give it time to work.
Marketing’s Impact On Sales
If you think changing marketing is hard, try changing sales. Today, inbound marketing agencies are getting pulled into sales to help salespeople close the new leads. The change in buyer behavior that’s impacting the way you market is also impacting the way you need to sell.
We need to be just as astute in helping sales leaders redesign their sales process, reset the standard for communication with prospects, integrate educational content and teach salespeople to start guiding their prospects instead of selling to them.
This is going to be an ongoing challenge, one that requires all of our knowledge, experience and skills. I know our team is up for the challenge. I know that we’ll be adjusting what we do and how we do it in an attempt to deliver better experiences, better results and better businesses for our clients.
Start Today Tip – It’s simple. If you want to do something different than what you’ve done historically, come to the table with the proper mindset. Understand that it might be hard but you’ve selected a partner who wants to help. Make sure you’ve invested properly so that your selected partner or internal team has all the assets needed to make it work. Be patient. Recognize this as a strategic shift that is going to take time, and evaluate its progress through this lens. Most importantly, accept the advice of the team you’ve empowered to help you move your business forward. This gives you the best chance to realize the results you expected when you made the bold move to go ALL IN on inbound!
Square 2 Marketing – Inbound Results Start With ME!