What Marketing Managers and CEO’s need to know about Inbound Marketing

There is a lot of confusion in the market about what Content and Inbound Marketing can do for a company's bottom line, how to implement it and how much it costs in terms of financial and human resources. This post aims to clarify some of these points, so let us know if it did achieve its objective (or not).

 

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  • Inbound Marketing is free

Ok, you are a believer that the best things in life are free. Good for you! I try to be that optimist myself, most of the time at least. But nothing in business is for free. Business is the art of trading and with Inbound Marketing is no different. You are trading valuable knowledge (your company's know-how) for consumer data, behaviour, preferences and, ultimately, contact details.

The reality is that to produce content that is considered relevant by your buyer personas you need a clear strategy and time. It also includes hiring specific professionals such as marketing automation specialists and inbound marketers who will help to build the bridge between your company's content and your prospects and this, as expected, won’t be done for free.

  • Inbound Marketing works overnight
We had a client once that kept repeating that he urgently wanted Inbound Marketing to allow his salespeople to have three coffees per week with high-level prospects. So, from the get-go, we knew that his expectations about what Inbound Marketing does for a company were wrong.

That is not how Inbound Marketing (or life for that matter) works! If you start your Inbound journey today, you won’t have meetings with several decision makers in a short timeframe, but it will help you to get there eventually.

With Inbound Marketing you are building an infrastructure for lead generation and profitability that becomes more predictable over time as you evolve on the journey, but it takes time and some great work to implement the right web infrastructure, a killing content strategy, and ongoing Inbound campaigns.

  • Inbound Marketing can be outsourced

This is an interesting one.

You can outsource the execution of your Inbound Marketing or parts of it (that’s what we do by the way!), but the internal company knowledge can’t be entirely replaced, not without missing on content quality and uniqueness.

What I mean by this is that the client needs to hold his side of the bargain and help the agency to identify and build content that reflects the company USP’s. Otherwise, you will be just another company regurgitating the same type of content, with the same boring points of view which end up being only a combination of compiled “more of the same” stuff that is out there.

Yes, the agency or Inbound Marketing specialist can help your company build the strategy and the content itself, but you need to help them find your unique selling point, the tone of voice and opinion that makes your company unique. Saying that, have in mind that articles coming from knowledgeable staff members will probably be a better option.

  • Inbound Marketing can't be outsourced

So, another interesting one. Here, opposed to the above point, the client thinks that they would be the only person who can write about their company, most of the time still getting confused about the difference between Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing and Public Relations. They populate the web with several posts about the company's latest accomplishments, awards and new deals closed.

We’ve seen that happening with passionate CEO’s who obviously love their business (their baby) and want to shout to the whole world how incredible their services and products are. And let’s face it, which passionate business owner or marketer does not?

But this is not Inbound Marketing; it is only noise. And I will share a secret that most business owners might not be aware of or would like to hear: nobody cares! Yes, that’s correct. It hurts to learn that, but no one, apart from the competition and sometimes not even them, cares about that latest award your team won last year. Your buyer persona or prospective client wants to know what is in it for him/her. What is it in your content that will make their lives and work easier or better?

So, apart from not having time to maintain a relevant and consistent content strategy running, both Marketing Managers and C-level executives struggle when they see themselves in the position of being content producers for the company’s Inbound Marketing Strategy. And this is why and when you need to outsource the execution; but as said previously, keep your side of the deal (and the SLA) and help with the raw material the agency can work with.
 

  • Inbound Marketing is the same as Content Marketing

It is not. And dear people from the whole world, please stop saying this!

You can easily build a content strategy without actually implementing Inbound Marketing. If you are driving people to your website but is not collecting contacts and data intelligence that can help with conversions and customer acquisition, you are not doing Inbound Marketing. You can’t execute Inbound without Content Marketing, but you can and might be already doing the opposite.

  • Inbound Marketing will solve my company sales issues (overnight)
If your business has been struggling for a while and you need quick wins to pay your people’s salary, please rethink the idea of implementing a strategy that thrives with time. It simply won’t work.

Please go back to point 2 and read it once more.

  • Inbound Marketing is the only type of marketing I need
Your approach to marketing will obviously depend on your buyer persona, how they absorb information and make their buying decision. Either way, most of the time there are several touch points that need to be addressed, so combining efforts can be a winning. Of course, this does depend on the size of your company, its marketing budget, and internal resources.

We had a client once in the technology space that was a Microsoft reseller and invested 15k for a booth at one of Sydney's biggest Technology Trade Shows (you might have heard of CEBIT?). He was expecting to get a year’s worth of revenue through the leads captured there during the three days of the event. There was no strategy for how to qualify the leads on the spot, and he wasn’t even clear on who his buyer persona was.

As we all know, a lot of people come to a company stand because they want a freebie, they are not potential clients! So this is a sample of cash that could have been better allocated should he had invested in a long-term strategy that would bring recurring qualified leads throughout the year, opposed to 200 names on a list that was very close to useless.

  • Inbound Marketing is too easy
There is a lot of work that needs to be done to make something worth it.

In Inbound Marketing, that work is divided into several moving parts that need to be perfectly connected, so the whole machine works smoothly. That goes from keyword research and buyer persona development, through crafting a great blog post, link building, social media strategy, your email workflows, data analysis and lead nurturing campaigns as well as refining the whole thing to make it work better than the last time. Besides, persistence and grit are crucial traits in this field.

There is a lot of knowledge involved in the practice of Inbound Marketing and a bunch of unique skill-sets that makes it bring the results expected.

  • Inbound Marketing is too difficult

I know, I made it sound too hard on the point above. I get it. But one issue that frequently appears is the client that believes it can’t be done and the company has no resources to get it up and running when, in fact, the resources are just there, in front of them.

Say for instance an Education provider, such as a University - this is the type of business that has a lot of potential for very sophisticated Inbound & Content strategies. The place is all about knowledge! Content is everywhere!

Of course, there are challenges when it comes to building the whole inbound marketing infrastructure as we are addressing in this blog post, but in most cases, chances are you can create high-level content utilising a lot of the existing material available while leveraging the knowledge and specialised expertise of internal staff. 

  • Inbound Marketing is too expensive
Ok, back to point 1: it is not free! But being expensive or not is very relative, and it does depend on what budget you are comparing it to. For a company that has been traditionally spending all its cash in traditional marketing, Inbound expenses might be almost irrelevant considering its potential. If you do have in-house resources at your disposal for inbound strategic thinking, web development, and content production also count a lot.

I understand that for someone who is used to investing in traditional marketing, tools such as Hubspot might seem too expensive. The ROI of Inbound Marketing, however, is way more clear, defined and tangible than something such as a Billboard (people still do this?)

The key points to consider concerning building for Inbound is the cash to maintain the platform and the resources to produce optimised content of quality in a consistent manner, as well as a team of experts who can evaluate the results from an analytical perspective.

The smaller the budget you do have, the more you have to be streamlined and strategic on how you spend it. And anything that can’t be properly tracked back to revenue will end up being more expensive due to the simple fact that you can’t, realistically, put your finger on the ROI it generated.

  • Inbound Marketing means no proactive prospecting
Nope. Implementing Inbound Marketing is not to say you won’t need a prospecting strategy, or that thousand of qualified, ready to buy leads will come your way. If life were that easy, everyone would have a business, right?

You still need a sales strategy. The difference is that with Inbound-driven leads you will talk to people that are already informed and demonstrated some interest in your services, so you don’t have to adopt the annoying door-to-door approach. It allows you to be more sophisticated, but you still need to go for the hunt.

  • Inbound Marketing can be done by any digital agency
An agency or professional that is specialised in digital marketing does not necessarily understand inbound marketing. There are several agencies that are very good at developing pretty websites, but they don’t have either strategic or content marketing backgrounds, which means they won’t be able to think inbound marketing while developing your website strategy.

Many people and companies sell the idea of web marketing strategy, but they are, in reality, clueless when it comes to implementing a holistic approach to the service they do deliver. Simply because it is hard for small and medium-sized agencies to combine all the skills needed to develop an all-rounded Inbound Marketing strategy. And that’s precisely Pixel’s unique selling point. ;-)

  • Inbound Marketing can be done using any digital marketing tool
You can try. We did, with several different platforms. And in fact, we have got some results with combining different tools in the attempt of replicating what a more sophisticated one can do. It is not impossible, but we don’t recommend.

The headache of trying to consolidate all the data into one single report is simply not worth it. Besides, some of those tools available in the market are not very reliable. You could implement a lead generation plugin today that is no longer available tomorrow, and there goes down the drain all your data intelligence and the effort you did put into your strategy.

Making business with the more established Inbound Marketing tools means you are partnering with more reliable organisations, and you also have access to their customer services team.

We have partnered with several providers just to realise that Hubspot is the only one we do recommend for a medium-sized business that is looking into implementing Inbound Marketing correctly.

  • Inbound Marketing is a synonymous of having Hubspot

No, having Hubspot implemented means nothing if you don’t have a strategy and support to properly execute it. Hubspot is a system, and that’s all. Yes, we do like it and it is what we do recommend to our clients as our preferred platform, however, if you don’t use it you won’t get anything out of it.

Think of it as a car. If you buy a Ferrari (or whatever car suits your fancy) and leave it in the garage indefinitely, you simply wasted money. It is of no use if you don't drive it or if you use it only on roads which allow low speed, like a Hospital or School area. Again, useless. That’s not what the machine was created for.

Conclusion

Inbound Marketing can make an incredible impact in most businesses, generate less costly, more qualified leads and change the way you see digital, content marketing and brand journalism. The technology can be used as a very powerful tool which can make the difference you are looking into implementing in your organisation. However, you need to know why, how and when to execute it so it works for you as it does for so many companies. Want some help in understanding on how to start? Try our Business Self-Assessment tool for a quick evaluation of where you are on your Inbound Marketing Journey or schedule an Inbound Marketing Consultation here.

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