How to start inbound marketing

By Martin Ray

How to start inbound marketing

A while back we had the opportunity sit down and listen to Marcus Sheridan, Founder and President of The Sales Lion and long-time Inbound evangelist. The presentation focused on Marcus’ thoughts on how to get Inbound buy-in and participation from an organisation. This post is a paraphrasing of Marcus’ thoughts combined with my own thinking on how to start inbound marketing.

This post is a follow-up to the post Top reasons why companies fail with Inbound. If you haven’t read that post already I urge you to do that first. Given that some companies run into hurdles when implementing an Inbound methodology, and recognising that those hurdles usually comes down to organisational buy-in, here is my advice for getting your organisation onboard with Inbound.

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Keys to getting Inbound buy-in

So how do you navigate past these pitfalls? Here are 9 keys to getting past these hurdles and help get your entire organisation onboard with Inbound:

  • Explain what Inbound is (and what it is not)—At its most basic level, Inbound is a methodology that forces you to only look from the outside. It aligns your sales and marketing process with the way people want to buy. It’s not, however, a magic pill and it does requires a lot of work and commitment.
  • Explain why Inbound is the right way forward—Show proofs of how the buying process has changed in your industry and what you stand to lose if you don’t change. Remind them the cost of doing nothing is often higher than doing something.
  • Run Inbound workshops (and ongoing training)— Mastering Inbound takes time and effort. It should be an organisational joint-effort so make sure to involve sales, marketing and other key stakeholders in the workshops. And make sure that key people receives ongoing training to hone their skills.
  • Assign a Content Manager—Make sure it’s clear to everyone who owns content production in your organisation and who is the Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) if content isn’t delivered according to an agreed quality and timeline.
  • Insource engaged colleagues—Find writers, actors and talkers in your organisation. People trust other people more than companies and therefore it is key to Inbound to highlight the true knowledge leaders in your organisation. However, on average only about 10-20% of people are good writers so if people don’t want to write, interview them and use that content instead. Sales guys are usually good actors—do video interviews with them. Engineers are usually good talkers—interview them and give them space to influence the wider organisation.
  • Explain that it’s all about BUSINESS—It’s a mistake to talk about Inbound as ’Inbound Marketing’ and ’Marketing Automation’—it’s really about business automation.
  • Make it required—It’s an old cliché: ’What gets measured, gets done’. A more correct way to put it may be that if it’s part of my job description and impacts how I’m being remunerated, it will get done.
  • Master the tool—Regardless of which tool or platform you chose, make sure to have at least one person in the organisation who is a true super-user of that tool. This is not only crucial to getting things done but also crucial for being able to show ROI of all your efforts. In larger organisations you typically have one person who is a tech wizard and one who is an analytics wizard.
  • Make sure the CEO cares—Make sure he or she really, really cares. Without true commitment from the top brass it’s next to impossible to achieve true change in any organisation. And make no mistake—to walk down the path of Inbound is to a large extent about change management.

A final word of advice, you need to show the value of Inbound to the entire organisation. Everyone should know the number of leads and customers and the ROI that is created by your inbound efforts. That’s the only way to facilitate change in the long term.

Inbound guide

By reading this inbound guide, you'll have a good understanding of what Inbound is, how it helps you and how you can get started. Ultimately you'll attract more prospects and turn more of them into promotors of your business!

Martin Ray
Chief Analyst & Digital Strategist 2011-2022.
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