So you're convinced that inbound marketing is definitely how you should focus your company's marketing efforts, but you have an up hill battle in front of you to get management and the rest of the company on board. Fear not. It is possible! Getting buy-in for an inbound marketing initiative is all about planning. Here're the 6 steps in Inbound Marketing to succeed!
Step 1 - Arm Yourself With Data
The greatest advantage that inbound marketing has over traditional, interruption-based tactics is that it is highly measurable. If you want to measure it, it's probably possible. Use this to your advantage! The data available is undeniable when it comes to showing the effectiveness of inbound marketing. Some examples:
Blog frequency impacts customer acquisition. 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)
83% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business. (Source: Social Media Examiner)
Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. (State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)
Call to actions promoting ebooks get almost twice the click through rate as emails promoting webinars. (HubSpot)
68% of B2B businesses use landing pages to garner a new sales lead for future conversion. (MarketingSherpa)
Inbound marketing data should also be accompanied by any data specific to your industry and company that you can produce. For example:
- Percentage of leads and sales that currently are derived from your website.
- Percentage of leads and sales that currently are derived from other marketing methods.
- What would it mean from a sales standpoint to get just 1 more ideal client?
- What would it mean from a sales standpoint to LOSE just 1 of your ideal clients?
- Percentage of your competitors that are involved in inbound marketing now.
- A note here... If none are involved, this is a huge opportunity for you... if you act swiftly.
Step 2 - Have A Rough Plan For Implementation
It's important to go into any discussion with decision makers at your company about a new initiative with at least a rough idea of how you can implement the initiative. Even if they are fairly sold on the potential for your organization to succeed with inbound marketing, if you don't have a rough road map ready, it will kill the idea.
Please understand that every detail of the process DOES NOT need to be planned out. Just an overall view of things like:
- Who all should be involved and why?
- What will their role(s) and time commitments be?
- How and when do you plan on training these folks?
- What tactics do you want to implement initially?
- What tactics will be added over time and roughly when?
- What are some realistic goals for new leads, sales, traffic, social interaction, etc...?
- Rough goals - you should be asking questions about current performance.
- Model peers - see what the growth rate has been for similar businesses.
- How will the efforts effectiveness be measured?
- What is a realistic time frame for showing progress?
- How often will the metrics be reviewed and in what way?
- What costs are associated with this effort?
- What will happen to leads that come in?
- What time frame is needed to establish a more solid plan?
These are things you should know going into the meeting.
Step 3 - Know How You Will Train The New Team
Having a plan in place for getting the whole team on the same page will make the reality of implementing a new marketing effort seem much more doable to your executives. It's not enough to say, "hey, read this article and you'll get it!". No, you need to break it down and go over multiple times in multiple formats. You need to make sure you will reach everyone on the team and have everyone on a very clear baseline. You will set the effort up for failure if you dive in without every team member being crystal clear on
- what inbound marketing is
- what your company's approach will be
- what the expected outcome looks like
- what their specific role is on the team
The key here is having a plan for training everyone on the team and getting them on board with the effort. If you find a particular team member doesn't "get it" yet, take them aside, provide more guidance and try to get them where they need to be. If they still don't get it, you may need to find a replacement. This is especially true when you are just kicking off your effort.
Step 4 - Try To Know The Road Ahead And Set Expectations
No one can see the future, but everyone can model someone else that has done what you are about to do. Your decision makers will want you to know as much of the road ahead as possible, including:
- Common areas of failure
- Potential risks
- Potential problems
- Side steps you may need to take to adjust your course
- How others have adjusted and reacted to the above
I can guarantee that they will come up with potential issues you haven't thought of. Don't have a knee-jerk reaction to the potential issue, and certainly don't sound defensive about it. Just accept that you haven't thought of everything...yet! Let them know that you will need to think through the issue.
It's important to relay as realistic set of expectations for this new effort. Success doesn't come overnight and without effort. Make sure that is clearly communicated. Having some "slow and steady wins the race" examples to reference is a great idea.
Step 5 - Be Willing To Take Criticism And Baby Steps
Guess what! Most manager-types aren't going to blindly say, "Great! Let me know how things are going in 3 months!". Most will ask how to dip a toe in the water and scale from there. While some aspects of Inbound Marketing can be scaled over time, truthfully, you will have mediocre results by taking baby steps. If that is the only choice, then be very clear that the results will be slow going this way. Be sure to measure along the way and give appropriate feedback as it relates to your limitations when you look at metrics. If you see success, make sure the powers that be know that that success could be much more significant if the commitment of the company was more significant.
Know this. Most managers will try for an RBI before going for a home run. This is human nature. They have to answer to someone too. If the effort fails (for any number of reasons), it will reflect negatively on them as well. They may want to see some minor successes before swinging for the fence.
Similarly, they may tear your idea to shreds. That's where planning is your best bet. Know what objectives you'll hear and what your appropriate responses should be. Again, if you don't know an answer or haven't thought through a scenario, be clear that you will. This may take a few meetings to get buy in.
Step 6 - Implement Like A Ninja!
You may answer to someone, but this is your baby. You need to implement this sucker like a ninja. Again, planning ahead of time instead of just diving in will make this easier. Know how frequently you and your team will meet, what everyone's deliverables are and when they are due. Know how frequently you are looking at metrics and be ready to adjust the course being taken if need be. You have to be the driving force/cheerleader for this effort. If you don't, chances are, the effort will fizzle. Be ready to be persistent and determined.