When we truly committed to inbound marketing, the difference was profound. We'd been talking the talk for a long time, and we're certainly believers in content marketing, but we'd never really walked the walk. The data supporting a move to inbound is pretty compelling. For most small to medium-sized businesses, and many large businesses, inbound marketing should be a huge part of the marketing mix, or even the cornerstone around which marketing strategies are built. The worst thing you can do however, is to merely pay lip service to inbound marketing, because an inbound strategy that lacks commitment is a high-risk proposition. Here are the top five risks associated with a failure to commit to inbound marketing.
There is little doubt that outbound marketing is still an effective tool, especially for big national brands with huge marketing budgets. Even for certain types of small to medium-sized businesses, outbound marketing can be an important tool for getting the word out. But there is little question today, that for many types of businesses, inbound marketing pays significantly higher dividends than more traditional outbound marketing. Here are five clear ways that inbound takes the prize.
Every once in a while we are approached by someone who actually says something like, "I'm really not into all of this social media jazz, but I know we probably need to start doing more of it. So we've been thinking... can you help us develop a [fill in the blank] that will go viral?" To which, I of course, always respond with, "Why of course! We'll get right on that!"
As much as we talk about the details and inner workings of inbound marketing, we sometimes fail to clarify WHY we are such big proponents. We have discussed the different elements of inbound and content marketing, and hopefully shed some light on the pitfalls and challenges. But here are four reasons why we LOVE inbound marketing and content marketing:
When used well, inbound marketing is a strategy that can deliver outstanding results—especially for those companies that have the wisdom and the patience to watch it mature and blossom. However, there are a number of pitfalls that can leave you spinning your wheels and not taking full advantage of all that content marketing has to offer. Understanding what these pitfalls are and how to avoid them is critically important.
I am often asked, "Why 30dps?" Or, "What is 30dps?" My short answer is always the same, i.e. "It's the speed of dreams!" I've had a multitude of varying responses to that, but my all time favorite was "Oh, that's right! I remember reading that somewhere!" Now I have no doubt that this well-meaning person actually did recall reading or hearing something about dreams, or the rate at which dreams float by in our sleep, but honestly, 30 dreams per second is not rooted in science; rather, its origins were quite unique.
We are often called upon by our clients to help them with branding. And occasionally, we are also asked to help with naming or renaming their company or product line. It is always an interesting and sometimes difficult process to come up with a new name, but none have been more challenging than when we decided that we needed to rebrand and rename ourselves. Our original name was a real mouthful, i.e. Learning Systems Consultants, Inc., and reflective of our roots in instructional technology. As the agency continued to evolve, and as digital marketing become our focus, the old name was simply more of a burden than a benefit to us. So we decided it was time to come up with something new, creative, descriptive, memorable, and hopefully, thought-provoking. Unfortunately, it proved to be a tall order.
As traditional publishers like trade journals, magazines, newspapers, etc. have continued to struggle to preserve their place in the world post-internet, more and more have turned to native advertising to fill the gap resulting from decreased distribution and faltering traditional ad revenues. Native advertising largely resulted from these publishers' realization that the effectiveness of interruption-based advertising was demonstrably in decline, and that consumers were increasingly looking for non-salesy information as they did their research and made purchasing decisions.
In an effort to save their publications from financial ruin,they are now offering their publishing platforms (whether print or digital) to help advertisers get their word out in a format that is more palatable to consumers. While they may at times offer to provide partial or full authorship of this content, typically they rely upon the advertiser to produce the content that they will then publish. This can indeed be good news for content marketers as it offers one additional platform for disseminating their content. However, don't kid yourself, native advertising is NOT content marketing.
I would love to tell you that I've always believed in, and maintained the discipline of, consistently documenting my goals. The truth, however, is that I've been largely undisciplined in this area up until a few years ago. One of my personal heroes has long been the legendary Zig Ziglar. His repeated admonition to write down your goals across all areas of your life and review them consistently ultimately won me over. I now have all of my goals documented, and I review them every Monday morning at 8:30. I'm still a long way from being where I'd like to be, and sometimes fail to make my goals precise enough to be doable and measurable, but I'm certainly making progress. On the personal front, I've had the goal of increasing the organization of my work spaces at home, and am pleased to announce that I finally cleaned out the garage that has hindered my accomplishment of that goal. On the business side, I've long hoped to see 30dps become a top marketing agency in Colorado and expand competitively into other areas of the country. Having just recently started staffing in Springfield, Missouri, and Olympia, Washington, I'm convinced that it was establishing goals and reviewing them regularly that helped drive this accomplishment.
Inbound marketing is an ongoing, long-term strategy that requires the same kind of discipline in goal setting. Without tangible goals, your inbound marketing will, as with other things, benefit greatly from goal setting. Setting goals, and frequently reviewing and monitoring your progress towards those goals, is essential to successfully accomplishing them. You have probably heard of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable,Relevant and Time-bound) goal setting, but perhaps you struggle with how to engage your inbound marketing using the same principal. Here are six steps you should take.
I didn’t get your typical start in marketing. Believe or not, this content creator was originally seeking a BFA in illustration. But, like many fledgling college students, based on the input of a couple very pragmatic parents, I decided to switch my major to advertising; the best decision I have ever made.
I'm blessed to be married to the woman of my dreams! We've been married for more than 34 years, and she still takes my breath away just by walking in the room. But it's definitely NOT a perfect marriage, mostly because I'm such a far cry from being a perfect husband. (Pssst... she's not perfect either, as was evidenced this morning when she burned my breakfast.) All marriages experience times of strain and struggle, and ours is no exception. But the principals associated with agile project management techniques, and growth-driven design are such a perfect, seemingly strainless match, that you might conclude that they were cut from the same cloth. And you'd be right.
As you define and implement your inbound marketing strategy, you will, no doubt, have certain expectations about everything from the quality of your branded content to the timeliness of its publication. However, those expectations should not be set in stone. The happiest and most successful content marketers are those who display a high degree of flexibility even as they stay focused on producing outstanding results.
The days of Mad Men—the golden years of the agency business—may be gone, but rocking someone's world with great creative and the smart use of technology make life in a boutique digital marketing agency equally as exciting, even if not quite so glamorous. And given the very changed world we live in today, the results are arguably more impressive.
Developing a powerful and effective digital strategy is increasingly critical for marketers today. Your strategy should define the specific goal, or goals, you expect to achieve with your digital marketing efforts. The key word here is "specific" because you want to be able to measure your success against those goals, and without specificity, you won't know how you're doing. Your strategy should also outline the specific tools and tactics you are going to use to accomplish your goals.
We have long been proponents of online tools and apps for our clients. Online tools/apps come in a number of forms and can include sales support tools like CRMs, business data software that provides insights into your prospects, and sales enablement tools that help provide the content needed to close sales, just to name a few. In fact, the use of online tools is rated in the top ten of marketers’ inbound marketing priorities, according to HubSpot's annual research report of 4,500 marketers worldwide.
HubSpot's annual research report of 4,500 marketers worldwide reveals a lot of good news for inbound marketing practitioners. Most notably, it once again shows that inbound marketing is growing in both prominence and effectiveness. Interestingly, those who self-identify as outbound marketers largely acknowledge many of the shortcomings that have led to the growth of inbound marketing. Only 17% of marketers say outbound practices (e.g. cold calling, TV/outdoor ads, trade shows, purchased lists) provide the highest quality leads for their sales team. But as outbound marketers begin to shift priorities to more inbound techniques, it is apparent that there is still a gap between outbound marketers' priorities and the priorities of accomplished inbound marketers.
Most of us marketers and business owners have long trusted the "professionals" (newspapers, trade publications, etc.) to write and publish industry-relevant information. We learned through the years that if we spent enough money on advertising in those publications, we might have enough leverage to get them to publish our press releases, write or publish an article or two on our successes, and even present us with an occasional top product/service award. But as the publishing business has faltered in the last decade, the impact of our traditional marketing efforts has diminished along with the true reach of these publications.
Consumers have turned from traditional media to online content for their information—and not just the online version of the old print publications, but new bloggers and thought leaders whose influence most often can't be bought. So how do we stay relevant and get our message out if we can’t count on traditional publications to do more for less (which is exactly what they would need to do in order to make it worthwhile)? Content marketing is certainly the answer. While we have been advocating for quality content since our earliest efforts, we didn’t truly commit to inbound marketing and content marketing ourselves until a just few years ago. Frankly, part of the holdup was that the notion of producing fresh new content on a prescribed daily, weekly, monthly schedule required us to embrace our inner publisher.
Throughout our 26+ year history, we have had some great non-profit clients. The nature of these organizations is all over the place, including the following:
- Christian ministries
- Curriculum publishers
- Book publishers
- Relief organizations
- Political action committees
- Political parties
- Senior housing
- Mental health services
While all of these organizations have been a delight to work with, in recent years, those that have proven to be the most successful from a marketing perspective are the ones that have recognized the challenges that are surfacing as we shift from the information age to the age of experience. Inbound marketing, marketing automation, content marketing, and growth-driven design techniques are a perfect way to address those challenges.
A properly planned and executed inbound marketing strategy maximizes the return on every dollar spent on marketing and fundraising, while potentially improving the impact of the core services that support the organization's mission—making it ideal for most non-profit organizations.
Inbound marketing is certainly not for everyone. It is really only for those that are passionate about doing things differently than they've been done in the past—those that are committed to creating meaningful and lasting relationships with customers, not just saying whatever is necessary to close the sale. While almost all of us would agree that the former is superior to the latter, much of traditional marketing and advertising is solidly rooted in the latter.
If you happen to be someone who has been, or is about to invest in, reading our blog (certainly a sign of keen insights and wisdom), you undoubtedly recognize that we talk a lot about buyer personas, inbound marketing, content marketing, conversion optimization, marketing automation, analytics tools, social media marketing, search engine optimization, custom application development, and growth-driven design. While each of these independently is an important tool for serious marketers today, when they are all employed in harmony, it is truly a beautiful thing.
We talk a lot about both inbound marketing and content marketing here at 30dps. While neither notion is really new, both terms have grown sharply in popularity and acceptance in just the last few years.
Driven in large part by two firms (i.e. inbound marketing by HubSpot and content marketing by Content Marketing Institute), the interest in these two terms has exploded in recent years, as reflected in this Google Trends chart.
Even here on our blog we often speak of them as if they were the same thing (largely for the sake of simplicity), but the truth is, they are signficiantly different. So for those who do not know this distinction, we'll try to clarify.