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Why You Need Inbound For Outbound Marketing and Vice Versa

Why You Need Inbound For Outbound Marketing and Vice Versa

In recent years, outbound marketing has gotten a bad rap. It’s seen as expensive, time consuming, and it feels like a relic of the past. And the numbers bear this out: in 2017, HubSpot’s State of Inbound report found that 71 percent of businesses worldwide are focused primarily on inbound marketing.

But I’d argue that there is real value in outbound marketing, when it’s done correctly. In fact, you can develop a sort of symbiotic relationship between inbound and outbound marketing tactics in order to create an even stronger overall marketing strategy.

Here, we’ll look at why you need inbound for outbound marketing (and vice versa) and what you can do to strengthen your approach in both arenas.

Tailor Your Inbound Approach Based on Outbound Success

Nowadays, people are trained to tune out most traditional outbound tactics. Television commercials are muted or skipped over entirely, direct mailers are tossed in the trash without a second glance, and radio stations are switched as soon as ads begin playing.

So what information can you glean from an outbound campaign that is successful? If you begin to generate responses to an outbound campaign, you’ll know that you’re onto something. Your messaging was powerful enough to cut through the noise and grab the attention of someone that wasn’t actively seeking out the good or service you offer. And that’s valuable information.

You can then take that knowledge and use it to strengthen your inbound approach. Revamp your call to action on your website to reflect the messaging in your outbound campaign. Create blog posts that are related to the topic you presented in the ads. Adopt a similar tone in your social media posts. Understanding what it was that grabbed a stranger’s attention can allow you to bolster your relationship with those who already interact with your brand or who happen upon it via inbound channels.

Use Outbound to Identify the Strongest Prospects

Tracking responses to outbound marketing can also allow you to gauge who your most promising prospects are. If someone goes out of their way to react to your outbound efforts, it’s likely that they’re very enthusiastic about your business. This is a prospect with a high likelihood of conversion, and if you then open up a dialogue by presenting them with the appropriate inbound tactics, you have a good chance of winning them over.

These are the people you should be reaching out to with targeted offers and discounts. Make sure they’re encountering your paid ads on social media so that your business remains top of mind. Send them a free white paper and ask them to sign up for your bi-weekly newsletter that’s filled with valuable content. You’ll feel confident that you’re getting the greatest return on your inbound investment because you’re going after your most highly engaged prospects.

Catch Customers at Any Stage of the Marketing Hourglass

Outbound and inbound marketing come into play at different stages of the marketing hourglass. Typically, outbound strategies are deployed at the top of the hourglass, where new customers are just getting to know and like your brand. Inbound strategies become useful a bit further down. Because inbound allows you to develop a two-way conversation with prospects, these techniques can be valuable in the trust and try phases of the hourglass. This is where prospects will want to gain a deeper understanding of your brand, and perhaps hear from you or from your clients about what it is that you excel at, and why a prospect should give you a shot.

However, the customer journey is never a straight line, so you have to be prepared for the fact that existing customers will sometimes encounter your outbound marketing efforts and brand new prospects who aren’t familiar with your brand may discover your inbound approach before they ever see one of your ads. This means that you need to be thinking about how to create both inbound and outbound campaigns that are appealing to prospects and clients no matter where they are on their journey.

Your outbound approach should not only be a catchy introduction to your brand, it should also have a voice that aligns with the rest of your marketing, so that your existing customers feel that what they already understand to be true about your brand is just being further confirmed by any outbound efforts they come in contact with. Similarly, your inbound marketing strategy should be accessible enough that a stranger can happen upon any tweet, Instagram post, or paid search item and be able to easily glean what your business does, and what you might be able to offer to them.

Use Inbound and Outbound to Tell Your Story

If you’re only focused on either inbound or outbound marketing, you’re missing out on the opportunity to provide a holistic picture of what your business does, what your value proposition is, and how you stand out from the competition.

Outbound marketing only allows you to present a small sliver of the solutions you can provide to prospective clients. A good outbound campaign can tell a story in a direct mailer or a commercial, but outbound media are by nature briefyou’re limited to a 30 television commercial, one page mailer, or 15 second radio spotso prospects can’t get the full picture. And you can bet that in today’s digital world, even if you’ve gotten their attention through outbound tactics, they’ll be doing some digging on your business before converting.

That’s why pairing an outbound with an inbound approach is crucial. Your inbound marketing efforts, like social media and curated content on blogs or in white papers, allows you to tell prospects a broader story about who you are and what you do. Your social media accounts should have a clear point of view and should demonstrate your guiding vision and principles for your business. Your content should prove your deep industry knowledge and confirm your status as a thought leader.

Prospects want to trust you, and in order to trust you, they have to feel like they know you. The outbound will put you on their radar screen, but the inbound will open up a dialogue between you and the prospect, helping to prove to them that you’re the best company for the job.

A marketing strategy that focuses only on inbound is missing out on valuable opportunities. Pairing inbound and outbound marketing strategies allows you to create the fullest picture of your brand for prospects and clients alike, and gives you the greatest shot at winning new business and maintaining the trust and loyalty of existing customers.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Sales.

How to Get Sales and Marketing On the Same Page

The title of today’s post became one of the major sub themes of my upcoming book Duct Tape Selling. It didn’t start out that way, but in working with more and more sales departments it became clear that the move to inbound and social selling occurs much more effectively when there’s a culture of cooperation and integration within sales and marketing departments.

Sadly, this is rarely the case. In fact, I’ll be presenting my view of the sales and marketing divide – and what to do about it – in an upcoming MarketingProfs Pro Seminar.

My take is that for organizations to take full advantage of the dramatic shift in the way people and organizations buy today they must intentionally blend inbound marketing, outbound marketing and inbound selling a way that mirrors today’s customer journey.

And, it’s not enough to simply pass white papers to the sales team and say “go be social.”

inbound selling

Sales and marketing must come together at the point where awareness and messaging and the very definition of what an ideal client actually looks like initiates.

Below are five activities that I believe should be at the forefront of any attempt to more closely align sales and marketing.

Shared planning

Quite often marketing creates a plan and calls on others to deploy it. The challenge is that in most cases the marketing folks are isolated from the actual customer. Sales and marketing must come together to define the customer, create marketing strategy and map a customer journey that puts the customer first. Invite sales into the planning phase!

Shared editorial

Marketing is now in full content production mode. But I wonder if more is really better? I believe that even if sales people aren’t asked to write blog posts they can both inform the editorial make up and personalize what content is produced in ways that will make it more useful to individual prospects and clients. Marketing must take the access they generally have to data and filter content to help sales professionals spend less time researching.

Shared social

Here’s an idea that is causing loads of angst in marketing departments around the world – turns out that social media is more effective in the hands of some sales professionals than it is in the hands of some marketing professionals. While far too many marketing departments view social media as another broadcast channel, smart sales folks are finding better ways to connect, network, prospect and engage very small numbers of the right people via social media. This is a huge training opportunity.

Shared engagement

To me the item that would really bring a sales and marketing group together would be the act of jointly engaging a client or prospect. This could start with working on a proposal together, making calls together, blending lead nurturing activities and, with the inclusion of a service or account manager, might just round out the perfect way to engage today’s buyer.

Shared measurement

Here’s the real problem. Many marketing departments are measured by the number of leads they generate – no matter the relative quality. Sales is measured by the number of those leads they convert – no matter the relative quantity and quality. Suffice it to say neither is too happy.

If you want to get sales and marketing really working together set up a way to measure the true impact of effective inbound marketing and selling as a team and reward each for the vital role they play in actually creating a profitable customer.

If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Sales.

2 How to Blend Inbound Marketing with Inbound Selling

As I’ve outlined in previous posts and in recent presentation, I believe the most potent approach to marketing and sales involves inbound marketing blended with inbound selling.

customer teams

photo credit: Unhindered by Talent via photopin cc

The challenge in implementing such an approach is that it requires an environment of intense cooperation between marketing and sales. As anyone in business can attest, this doesn’t always exist.

But if marketing and sales simply adopt parallel inbound approaches, without total harmony, they can actually further the internal working gap and muddle the ultimate message heard by the market.

What if you adopted an approach that took your organization in a direction that not only put sales and marketing on the same team, but also did so in a way that truly put the customer first?

What if in place of giving this idea lip service, you broke your marketing, sales, support and service teams into small units and compelled them to go to work on individual client segments or specific accounts as self managed action teams.

Build self led teams

One potential way to set up such an arrangement would be to assign team leaders and rotate each member through the role of leader every 60 or 90 days. This would put accountability and autonomy directly on every member of the team. The result would be a shared result owned by all with no ability to point fingers and pass blame.

If you were to facilitate this approach you might be quite amazed by the culture of collaboration that forms. Certainly, in your role of coach, you’ll need to guide these teams in the most productive ways, but this is how your create the kind of communication that leads to real innovation and you just might find that this changes your entire business model.

Bring sales into marketing meetings

The way to ease into such an arrangement is to start bringing your sales team members into marketing meetings to share what they are hearing out there on the street. You might even go as far as requesting that the marketing department develop some questions to begin posing to clients and prospects as a way to collect meaningful data on the client’s real world.

Take marketing into the field

The next logical step is to ask members of the marketing, service and support teams to participate in routine “ride alongs” with sales reps to make calls on clients and prospects with an eye on better understanding the world of sales while engaging in valuable conversations with actual clients.

The first step in getting sales and marketing on the same page is to inject a bit of empathy. When team members gain a better understanding of each others objectives and challenges they are often more prepared to look for collaborative solutions to customer challenges.

This step alone may turn up some more customer friendly processes and touchpoints, but to make these new learning pay off you need to create cross functional teams charged with blending inbound marketing and inbound selling.

Gather best practices

Once your teams start blending objectives and collaborating on behalf of prospects and customer it’s time to go to work finding and documenting the best practices and successful processes that these teams inevitably develop and using this approach to build a truly personalized customer oriented marketing and sales methodology.

17 Why Outbound Marketing Has Never Been More Effective

The rallying cry of inbound and content marketers everywhere is that outbound marketing, you know, things like advertising, cold calling and overt promotion are evil.

omnimarketing

photo credit: The Eggplant via photopin cc

The theory is that if you put enough high quality content out there, the right people will find you. And, both in theory and in fact, this is happening.

The funny thing about evolution, however, is that it never really stops.

As marketers and the customers they aim to attract fully embraced inbound marketing, the sales function had to change with it. The most effective sales professionals today practice inbound selling and collaborate as much as close.

As marketers and the customers they aim to attract fully embraced inbound marketing, outbound marketing became more effective.

Now, before you get out the pitchforks and start skewering, let me explain.

Before inbound marketers built libraries of educational content to lean on in their inbound marketing efforts, most outbound approaches simply shouted buy, buy, buy – and that’s the part that turned everyone off.

But now, smart marketers are using their content assets, married with outbound tactics, to attract leads with a more palatable read, read, read or download, download, download!

An add on Facebook, promoting a popular free eBook, highly targeted to people who have shown a real interest in this precise kind of content, is an effective use of inbound and outbound tactics.

Smart sales professionals are using effective network mining techniques combined with content assets to turn what we used to refer to as cold calls into very effective smart calls.

A sales professional, mining social networks and listening for very specific requests for information can offer up a free eBook or video training turning a something cold into something smart.

Once you build an inbound marketing approach and find that this approach attracts and converts the right customers, you can effectively expand and amplify it through other channels. While being found is nice, it can also be quite limiting.

If you want to grow your marketing reach and create greater marketing velocity use your content assets to go find even more of the right customer.

Now, understand, I’m not suggesting a return to the “shout from the rooftops to anyone that will listen days,” those days are gone forever. What I am suggesting is that you use the tools at your disposal to narrowly target prospects and invite them to find your valuable, education based content.

I’ve been promoting this approach for a number of years now and it has become even more effective as social media participation and behavior grows. In fact, the ability to target, learn, access and engage through social networks has made this integrated view the most effective approach possible.

Marketers love to name new strategies and tactics so I think I’ll take a stab at coining a term to describe what I see as the latest evolution of sorts.

Inbound marketing + inbound selling + social media + outbound marketing = Omnimarketing.

I believe that smart, balanced Omnimarketing is the way forward.

There is no “either or”, “one way is better than another”, “this way is cheaper than another” approach that can effectively leverage every opportunity available today.

The Omnimarketing formula looks something like this.

  • Build a content strategy that attracts the right customer and builds trust. Test, tweak, add and subtract until you find the right customer conversion journey and experience.
  • Work to understand everything you can about the prospects and customers your inbound approach is attracting.
  • Get your sales teams to move deeply into social networks to understand even more about the needs and challenges of the customers your marketing is attracting.
  • Let your salespeople start leveraging and personalizing content assets to turn up and make smart calls.
  • Now start building a narrowly targeted advertising approach that brings even greater numbers of leads into your content or Marketing Hourglass.
  • Continue to test, tweak and refine your outbound efforts based on actual conversations and conversions that move through your Omnimarketing approach.
  • Re-engage your customers to measure results and enable referrals.

Ominmarketing works because first and foremost it’s based on the way that people want to buy today and once you understand that you can add the element of control that targeted outbound marketing brings.

21 The Problem With Inbound Marketing

I’ve been promoting the concept of inbound marketing for about ten years now. I certainly didn’t coin the term “inbound marketing,” but it’s a concept that has been the basis of my teaching and it’s the approach that I’ve used to build my business.

inbound selling

photo credit: memories_by_mike via photopin cc

Think about the impact of that – I’ve been able to build a multimillion dollar global business without advertising, without a sales staff, without any outbound efforts at all. Every bit of business I generate comes to me through the consistent creation of educational content, being found by those in search and engaging those who want to know more.

The thing is, my business isn’t really that unique. Tens of thousands of small businesses and independent professionals have been able to accomplish the same and much, much more through the effective use of what we’ve come to call inbound techniques.

Eventually big brands took note and jumped in with both feet. The term content marketing supplanted social media in the buzz wars and the race to create more content was on.

But then a funny thing happened. Brands discovered that creating good content required work, it was expensive, it got in the way of having meetings and it was hard to measure.

Throwing money at content marketing only made the problem worse because more of something lacking value is actually worse than less of something lacking value.

The key difference between organizations that are making inbound marketing work and those that are working at inbound marketing is intimacy and it’s hard to deliver intimacy with a content machine.

Small business owners and others scoring big with content are producing content with an extreme understanding of their customer. They are often intimately involved in the lives, struggles, joys and fears of the people they are writing to and for.

I say this often – my greatest marketing asset is that I am my customer.

The key difference between big brands and small brands – whether either knows it or not – is that small brands practice inbound marketing and inbound selling at the very same time.

Meaning that they are not only able to produce content, but personalize it, turn it into stories, add insights client by client and deliver extreme value along the journey from awareness to referral.

And that is the impact of inbound marketing coupled with inbound selling.

Until big brands marry inbound marketing with inbound selling their content marketing efforts will continue to serve merely as clutter in an already overwhelming sea of content noise.

The rallying cry for content factories everywhere is contained in a CEB study of over 1400 B2B Organizations that revealed 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talks to a supplier.

So, what’s a marketing department to do but create more content to move ahead in the purchase decision chain, right?

That same survey, however, also found that 53% of those surveyed claimed that the sales experience itself was one of the greatest contributing factors in continued loyalty to the brand and that’s the point that inbound marketing driven by a marketing department completely neglects.

Until big brands move sales teams into the business inbound selling – defining ideal customers, listening for market opportunities, building value propositions, creating content platforms and generating individual authority in the marketplace – the content machine will remain more of a treadmill than a key to the open road to success.

The proverbial wall between marketing and sales must come down in dramatic fashion and this must start with completely redefining the role of marketing and sales in most organizations.

For inbound marketing to perform in most markets it must be placed in the hands of those in the organization who can help prospects and clients make sense of it.

Frankly, inbound marketing, and its more client forward brethren, inbound selling, must become the way forward. Neither can really standalone.

No matter what you call it – the organization that gets closest to the customer wins – and you can’t do that with corporate inbound content marketing alone.

15 Journey to the Center of the Marketing Universe

center of marketingThere was a time, just a few short years ago really, when small businesses finally concluded they must use the web to supplement their marketing efforts and create another potential channel for marketing messages.

Today’s business must evolve that thinking radically again or face extinction. The onslaught of social media use didn’t simply create another set of marketing tactics, it signaled, to those viewing it strategically, a shift in the marketing landscape that has become preposterously evident as we race towards the end of 2010.

The Web and digital interactivity now represents the center of the marketing universe. Most marketing decisions must start and end there. Today’s marketer must view their marketing strategies and tactics with an eye on growing the online center and radiating beyond with spokes that facilitate most of the offline transactional functions that drive sales and service.

All businesses, regardless of industry, have become what I call O2O businesses – their primary marketing objectives are focused on driving people online to drive them offline and in that effort the online core web presence has significantly heightened responsibilities.

Here’s some of what I mean

  • While advertising was used primarily to create a sale or enhance an image it must now be used to create awareness about web content
  • While SEO was primarily a function of optimizing a web site it must now be a function of optimizing brand assets across social media
  • While lead generation used to consist of broadcasting messages it must now rely heavily on being found in the right place at the right time
  • While lead conversion often consisted of multiple sales calls to supply information it must now supplement web information gathering with value delivery
  • While referrals used to be a simple matter of passing a name they now rely heavily on an organization’s online reputation, ratings and reviews
  • While physical store location has always mattered, online location for the local business has become a life and death matter

If you are still looking at your marketing efforts in a linear way – with online tactics falling somewhere in line – it’s essential that you change the way you view this model entirely. Today’s marketer must build from the center first and only then can you create the strong foundation that will carry your marketing into the next decade.

6 Marketing guidebook

The Inbound Marketing Guidebook

Hubspot co-founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah have synthesized, condensed and packaged what I believe is one heck of a book on the new reality of lead generation. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs is written in a style that makes it extremely accessible to the smallest of businesses and gets my highest recommendation as a must read.

Brian was a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast not long ago – click to have a listen.

The overriding premise of the book is to persuade readers to come to grips with the fact that the old ways of lead generation, shouting and broadcasting, have given way to being found – by producing something that will be found online and is worthy of people talking about. No surprise here that they too think every small business should be producing content on a blog. One of my favorite ideas in this vein is the notion that we as marketers must start looking at our jobs as half publishing, half marketing.

The website or blog is the hub of an inbound marketing strategy while social media activity creates the outposts and plays a role in the creation of inbound links. The book certainly supports everything the two have been building over at Hubspot, and that’s no surprise, but I was pleasantly surprised with some ideas in the book’s final chapter. Particularly one that addresses hiring Digital Citizens as employees. The grading scale for this is pretty fascinating.

15 The Essence of the Inbound Referral

This post is the opening positioning for the week long Make a Referral Week – officially starting Monday March 9 – Don’t forget to join us Tuesday, March 10 for a live web panel with Ivan Misner, Bill Cates and Bob Burg – Register here

Referrals happen, but seems like the more I talk to small business owners, the more I discover they don’t really know why they happen or how to make them happen more.

I think it starts with the understanding that everything about generating leads and referrals is changing.

Not long ago I was asked by a large insurance carrier to help design a marketing system for their new agents. They had used the same technique for about fifty years. It went like this. Every new agent would make up a list of 100 people they knew, had been taught or coached by, was related to their friends or was related to them. Next step was to get on the phone and ask those people, some of whom had not seen them in years, to have a discussion with this new insurance pup about taking care of the needs of their family and property.

Scary thing is, this is pretty much the approach of 90% of the companies in this industry. I am by no means picking on this industry because this a common approach for all too many businesses. And when that list of 100 is exhausted, the next option is to start pounding the phones in the equally frustrating game of cold calling.

Outbound marketing, interrupting anyone with a pulse, or worse yet a family member who might actually buy out of guilt, is a thing of the past.

In fact, my advice for this company was this: (they fired me after I suggested it by the way)

Have your agents make that list and include any influential person they had ever run across. But, instead of calling them start thinking of ways to introduce them to other businesses, services and opportunities. In fact, I suggested that they spend 50-75% of the first six months doing nothing but connecting their friends, family and network members in ways that helped them get more of what they were lacking – no selling allowed.

My experience with anyone who takes this advice and this approach is that within a couple weeks of adding value to people’s lives they never have to ask for another referral. It may feel counter intuitive to put the sales approach on the back burner and just focus on making referrals, but do it and people will find you – that’s the essence of the inbound referral.

In the end making referrals is significantly more fruitful than begging for them. Get this point and you’ll never want for leads in your business. Referrals and leads will find you. Putting this strategy into action also ignites a multiplier effect that creates unstoppable marketing momentum and fortifies your business with a network of partners ready and willing to help your get more of what you want out of life.

Happy Make a Referral Week!

23 Lead Generation Is About Being Found

Traditional lead generation tactics, directory advertising, trade show participation, half page print ads are quickly loosing appeal with small business marketers. There are two very good reasons for this decline 1) traditional methods are some of the most expensive and 2) traditional methods are proving less effective in terms of lead generation.

Message and information overload, technology to block ads (caller ID, TiVo, XM radio), and the availability of information may make traditional and more expensive outbound marketing efforts a thing of the past.

For the most part, Gen Y doesn’t know how to operate the Yellow Pages, doesn’t read the newspaper, and watches TV like an interactive sport (when not playing Wii or watching commercialess TV online)

Small businesses must change the way they think about and approach lead generation – they must think more in terms of being found and less in terms of finding. People are still looking for solutions, trying out new services and buying things they want, they’ve just changed how they go about doing it. In a way the control of message consumption has changed with it.

Technology has put the phone directory in our pocket, no need to travel to the trade show because the interactive demo is on YouTube, and blogs, search engines and social media sites provide all the product information, answers and reviews you could ever consume.

So, in order to generate leads and be found you must put yourself in the path of people who are learning about, asking about, and shopping about in your industry. You must create a web presence or hub of information for your business and then create spokes, online and offline that lead people to your hub.

The beauty of this approach is that once you master it, the leads you turn up will be much higher value, much more qualified and likely expecting to pay a premium because they have convinced themselves that you are the answer. (Do it now before your competitors figure it out.)

Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying your lead generation must be done exclusively online, and I am also not say don’t use advertising – what I am saying is that your online presence is the hub of education and that your online and offline adverting, pr, and referral systems must utilize this new reality to its fullest.

Think of it as lighting candles along dark paths so that weary travelers can discover you in the dark.

Those candles are your education based entries in social media hubs like twitter and Facebook – gentle guides of introduction. They are your pr efforts and articles, written to illuminate your expertise. They are your blog posts, designed to attract surfers looking for the way. They are your strategic partnerships, alignments that evoke trust. They are your web conferences, providing interactive discussions with customers and prospects. They are your community building events, places where candles can be re-lit and shared.

You can no longer sit back, dump an offer in the mail and start working the phones, you’ve got to build your inbound marketing machine and start taking advantage of the power of information, networking, trust, connection, and community to generate leads.