If done right, inbound marketing can work for any business that has a considered purchase...but it can also fail. It can fail for a variety of reasons, but let's start to break some of those reasons down.
As the first part of a series, I'm going to start with what should be considered the foundation of an inbound marketing strategy: buyer personas.
Missing the Mark on Buyer Personas WILL Cause Inbound Marketing Failure
Inbound marketing is a content driven strategy. You should be creating blog posts, downloadable content, marketing automation, social media activity, etc. That is ALL content!
Your inbound content is planned out in your content mapping, which is completely built around what you know about your buyer persona and the buyer's journey.
Now, imagine that the buyer persona that you developed isn't turning out to be as accurate as you thought. Now, everything you've established on top of that isn't hitting the mark either. If this happens your content will not resonate with the individuals you are attempting to reach. If it doesn't resonate with the right people you won't get the right traffic or convert enough of that traffic into leads.
Compare this to the foundation of a house. You can create a crumbly foundation for a house and then continue to build the remainder of the house on top of that, but how much faith would you have in the overall integrity of the house?
What can you do about it?
- Spend time on buyer persona development. Tell the best and most complete story you can. It can always be paired back if needed.
- Build your buyer persona(s) around your BEST BUYERS. These are the clients that you want more of.
- Interview your actual best buyers or even people that fit the profile, but maybe you didn't earn their business. Quality interviews are what can make a decent persona profile into a kick-ass profile!
- Don't set it and forget it. Revisit your buyer personas as you learn more about them. Even if you aren't scheduling formal interviews with your buyers, as you glean bits of knowledge related to your marketing efforts, take the extra step and add that information to your buyer persona story.
- Know your buyer persona like you know your friend. Make sure everyone involved in the marketing efforts has read through it multiple times, asked questions, and even prints it out and hangs it near the space in which they'll be doing the writing.
- Create a negative persona. These are stories about the people you DON'T want to do business with. If you're developing your overall inbound strategy and start to see that the focus is starting to sway the way of your negative persona, take a step back.
- Don't try to cluster different buyers into one persona just because it's easier. For example, if your goal is to generate leads from engineers but you target multiple industries, you may need multiple personas. Just because someone shares the same title, doesn't mean they care about the same things.
Your buyer persona is crucial to the overall success of your inbound marketing campaign. Here are a few stats to back that up! So, if your inbound marketing campaign is not performing as you hoped, start here. While it's not the only element that can cause failure, it's common for a business to rush through (or even skip) this step in strategy development. Don't let the rest of your inbound efforts flounder because you started off on the wrong foot!