Marketing Strategies For Inbound Marketing Can’t Be Optional
Every now and then, we meet people who want to skip the inbound marketing strategy portion of our engagement.
Would you ever bake a cake without a recipe? Build a house without an architectural plan? I guess you could, but you'd risk ending up with a cake that tastes nasty or a house that doesn't fit your specs. The same holds true for inbound.
Without solid inbound marketing strategies, you’re putting your business at risk of seeing low results, wasted time, wasted money and high levels of frustration.
Instead, take the time to create a solid inbound strategy that includes the following elements.
Defining the people you want your marketing to attract is important. It’s the easiest aspect to understand and perform. Create your personas using both demographic and psychographic information. Develop physical profiles and then build them out to include information like online behavior, LinkedIn groups, blog interests, email subscriptions and more. This is going to help later on when you want to do influencer marketing or content publication (two very important inbound tactics).
What pains are your prospects dealing with? What questions do they have? How do you solve those pains? This is one of the most important elements of marketing planning. Are you telling the right stories to the right people at the right time to get them to take action? If not, I don’t care how many blog articles you write, how many new landing pages you add or how many site pages you include in your new website project. You’re not going to generate leads.
Your Business’s "Why"
Another often overlooked and critical component to solid marketing: knowing why you're in business. It can’t be to make money, buy a Mercedes or score a shore house. There has to be a compelling and emotional “why” at the core of your marketing. A client of ours that deals in safety products has the following “why”: So Everyone Goes Home Safe Tonight. Our Square 2 Marketing “why” is: To Help People Change The Way They Think About Marketing And Sales. What’s your “why”?
What Makes You Special
This is also essential. Traditional marketing people refer to this as “differentiation strategy.” We like to say, “What makes you remarkable?” Regardless of what you call it, if you don’t know what separates you from the competition, you’re looking at an uphill climb. Worse yet, if you’re not remarkable, your business is probably invisible. Almost every client has remarkable elements hidden within their business. We know this because we get clients to uncover theirs, we polish them up and then we feature them in marketing messages, stories and tactical executions. This is how you drive leads.
People don’t remember features and benefits. They don’t remember details, and they don’t care about you. If you don’t have a collection of stories that get people inspired and emotionally connected to your business, you’re not going to get the leads you want. People remember stories and love sharing them. The right stories get people excited to work with you or talk about your business with others. Marketing is about creating a buzz for your business, and stories are the gas to drive that machine.
No plan would be complete without tactics. Most of the people doing inbound are pretty clear on the tactics. But, are those tactics well thought out, integrated and designed to support each other? For instance, search engine optimization and content creation need to be 100% aligned. Did you know that? Skip this step or fail to see how these two tactics are codependent, and you’ll end up with limited traffic improvements and probably low conversion rates.
There are at least six or seven other tactics that require tight integration for inbound to work. If you miss this or don’t have the experience to execute properly, you're going to see lower lead generation.
I’m less worried about the details here. Plans change often, especially inbound plans. I like to see how the next three, six or 12 months might play out under optimal conditions. You shouldn’t be worried if that plan changes (I get more worried when an inbound plan doesn’t change). But, you should be looking to see whether all the right tactics are included, the deployment makes sense and the results are connected to the deployment.
What good is a plan without a budget? It’s pretty easy to budget for inbound programs, as most of the months require the same tactics and the same level of work. But, there are extra expenses that come up. Software subscriptions, pay per click, photo rights and video production work are extra costs that you should be aware of. The budget provides that insight for the entire year.
Lead Goal Projections
What good is a plan without expected outcomes? Marketing and inbound have one thing in common: the goal to generate leads. So, a solid marketing strategy should have lead goal projections based on solid program science and deep experience with understanding what works and what doesn't. Now, know this: Lead goal projections are NOT PROMISES. Projections are only good on the day they’re provided. Nonetheless, they do give you something to shoot for, track against and adjust over time as the program rolls out.
A litany of technical details for your website, a persona-only strategy or a list of inbound marketing tactics is NOT a marketing strategy that’s going to get you leads. Make sure your plans have all of the elements discussed here to ensure that your cake comes out tasting amazing.
Start Today Tip – If you’re experiencing lead generation that's lower than expected, you might want to look at your strategy. If you haven’t started your tactical deployment yet, there’s still time to get the planning done correctly. Either way, don’t skip or cut corners on this very important step. Keep in mind that strategy isn’t a one-time activity. Make sure you’re looking at strategy quarterly to ensure that your content is performing and your tactics are prioritized based on value to your business.
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