Do you have an internal marketing team? How about an internal sales AND marketing team? Is your "team" or "committee" one person? (Are you maybe that one person who drew the short straw?)
If you don't have anyone in-house dedicated to marketing your business, you're not alone. I'm always astonished at the number of decent sized companies that we work with that really have no dedicated staff for marketing.
Because of this, when we take on new clients, they often haven't put much thought into the nuts and bolts of how they get their own clients. They don't know who their customers are, where they hang out online, how best to reach them, or how to answer their questions. This information is absolutely critical for a successful online marketing strategy - and for a successful business.
Building Your Inbound Marketing Team
(If you're not familiar with inbound marketing, it's like regular marketing but better.)
Our first recommendation for any business in this situation is to put together a small team (or "committee"). This team will be focused on making marketing an fundamental part of your organization.
Not sure who to include? Check out #2 on this list of 10 Questions to Answer Before Starting Your Web Marketing Strategy.
It's important to think outside of the box when gathering your team (your lead sales person is a given). You want to think hard about who else could be a valuable contributor to the team. Perhaps, the receptionist who interacts with your customers every day? She'll know their major questions, problems, and concerns right off the bat.
Because this is a new team, you'll need to have a kickoff meeting to start them off on the right foot. You want this meeting to go smoothly and receive the buy-in to make your team successful.
To ensure your first meeting goes swimmingly, we've put together a general inbound marketing agenda for your convenience.
Inbound Marketing Meeting Agenda
All team members will understand the core business objectives that their efforts will be supporting, and have a clear picture of the how the business will function with a solid web marketing strategy in place.
1. Introductions and Overview (a.k.a. Why Are We Having a Meeting?) (Time/Duration: ________)
- In medium to large organizations, some team members may be meeting each other for the first time. Make sure everyone knows everyone else, and their positions in the organization.
- Paint an overall picture of the environment in which you are currently operating:
- Competitive landscape (online and offline)
- Overall sales projections and recent performance
- Details on current marketing efforts
- Share the big picture of what should result from a solid inbound marketing effort, and what you view as a successful outcome
- Briefly list some of the specific tactics you want to use (e.g., website, email, social media, SEO, PPC, etc.)
2. Business Objectives Your Marketing Efforts Will Support (Time/Duration: ________)
- If you haven't shared your company's goals for this year, next year, over the next three years, etc., do so now to the extent that you can
- Be specific about goals if possible
3. Group Discussion & Consensus List of the Following Topics (Time/Duration: ________)
- Who isn't at the table that should be? (Who may have been missed for the team?)
- What business are we really in from our current and future customers' perspective?
- What is the current buying criteria of our customers?
- How do we meet that criteria?
- How does that compare to our competition (unbiased answers)?
- How are we TRULY unique? (Everyone says "we provide better service." Dig deeper.)
- How can we shift the buying criteria to our favor?
- What market data do we have - or that we could find - would help educate our buyers about why our product/service solves their problems? (e.g. research, stats, facts, reports)
- What do our competitors do better than us? (Remember, online competition may be completely different than offline.)
- What are the characteristics of your best buyers? (What percentage of your current buyers fits this profile?)
4. Recap, Assignments, Due Dates, Next Meeting (Time/Duration: ________)
- At this point in the meeting, there's been a lot of discussion and your team will have many ideas/questions. Recap them.
- Be sure it is VERY clear who's doing what for the next meeting. (e.g., getting answers about this/that, finding current values for metrics a/b/c, etc...)
- Have solid deadlines for when you expect answers, but let the team members have input on final due dates.
- Schedule the next meeting to continue this process, optimize strategy, and track progress.
Meeting #1 Is a BIG One!
Yes, that's a lot of information to go through. Yes, it's completely worth blocking off an afternoon (preferably not a Friday) to go through this initial process.
Remember, you want to build a vision for a better future with these efforts. You also want to be a sponge during section #3 to get an unbiased perspective. Don't dictate in this meeting - instead, guide.
Good luck, and keep your eye on the prize!