Ryan's experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.
It's pretty clear that inbound marketing works, and companies are turning to it en masse to try and spur on greater sales and exposure. Yet, despite the warm embrace by so many of their peers, some businesses continue to resist taking the inbound plunge.
Falling behind the marketing curve is costing businesses leads and sales opportunities, and the effects are only going to get worse. If you're similarly hesitant to bring inbound efforts into your marketing strategy, there's a good chance you've been misguided by one of the following eight myths.
Inbound Marketing Myths
1. Written Content is Ineffective
Written content has taken its lumps over the years, in part because its many forms have come to serve as trivial online mediums for posting diary entries and other uninteresting content. But blogs, social content and other inbound mediums like email and podcasts, have all become highly sophisticated in recent years, and the creation of unique content is now a major driver of online brand visibility. A single piece of inbound content can attract prospective consumers through both organic online search queries as well as through sharing on social media.
Blog posts, for example, attract traffic from search engines as well as links from other websites. Your blog should be used to answer common questions while demonstrating your ability to help customers solve their problems before they're ready to speak to a sales representative. Each well-strategized blog post can offer value to your company over the course of years--the content establishes your brand as consumer-focused and credible, and it will appear time and again in highly relevant search queries. Over time, your blog will deliver leads and customers that have found the answers to their questions and are now ready to buy.
2. You Can't Create Quality Content
This is a fair sentiment shared by many business professionals. Writing is a unique skill, and if you aren't able to write professionally and in a timely manner, you're liable to waste resources on trying to craft inbound content yourself. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way anymore. Inbound marketing agencies specialize in handling these matters for you. Businesses can pay to have the mess of content creation and management lifted from their shoulders. Lean Labs and other agencies are able to create a content strategy, write the content and produce significant results. As all of this is happening, you don't have to spend one minute managing writers or, worse yet, becoming one yourself.
3. Your Company Doesn't Need Inbound Marketing
Maybe your company's marketing is going fine--you get positive returns from your current campaigns, and you're comfortable where you're at. That's all well and good, but what you're doing in the process is ignoring more lucrative digital revenue streams that inbound marketing can create. These revenue opportunities offer more greater earnings relative to the cost of the campaigns, increasing your returns and the efficiency of your spending. It's also important to keep in mind that your business could be on the verge of losing ground to competitors who already have adopted inbound marketing into their operations. As your competitors build up their suite of content, they threaten to overtake you in search rankings while attracting the business of customers who are more responsive to valuable content than advertising.
When thought about in those terms, your current strategy may actually be losing you money.
4. You Can Get the Same Results Doing the Same Old Thing
If you haven't stayed on top of the best marketing practices of late, it's likely you don't understand the value of inbound marketing. Think about your preferences as a consumer: would you rather buy what's advertised to you through intrusive emails, commercials and online ads? Or would you rather search for what you want online, in turn discovering genuinely helpful content that helps you find the right solution independent of sales pitches? If you would rather buy through the second option, why would you think your customers are any different?
Ignorance is no excuse for eschewing a now-essential practice. If you had been keeping yourself abreast of the latest marketing trends, you would know that inbound marketing is the best method of expanding your sales and visibility online. Most businesses have already recognized and adapted, which means you're well behind the curve.
6. Inbound Marketing Requires New Employees
Again, this is a reasonable stance for those who aren't aware that inbound marketing agencies exist. When business expenses are tight, hiring another person to manage inbound practices can be a deal breaker. But hiring an inbound marketing agency to manage your strategy is cheaper than hiring an in-house marketing professional. Inbound packages can be very scalable, allowing companies to start small and scale upward as the results start to unfold. This progress is easy to monitor and manage thanks to a variety of metrics made available on a regular basis.
Plus, agencies are able to handle a greater workload than a single individual. This lowers costs for businesses and gets them more in return.
7. Inbound Doesn't Apply to Our Industry
Maybe none of your major competitors are investing in inbound marketing. That's no reason to follow suit--rather, it's an opportunity to get an early lead in your market. If you really think your customers won't benefit from inbound marketing, we'd love to hear from you by making a comment on this post. In return, we'll even drop a few ideas on how inbound could be used to help your company.
8. It's Hard to Start Inbound
Taking the first step is often easier said than done. If you're unsure of how to get started with inbound, feel free to download our free ebook, "Conquering the Inbound Marketing Mountain," or inquire with a few inbound agencies to gain some insight and direction.
It's not a matter of IF you're going to incorporate inbound marketing into your current strategy. Inbound has created a marketplace shift that no B2B or B2C company can ignore. The big question is when you will decide to adopt inbound, and how far ahead you're willing to let your competitors get before you decide to make the switch.
The Fastest Way to Start Inbound Marketing
The fastest way to get started, is to hire an inbound marketing agency.
With so many marketing terms floating around, it's hard to keep them all straight. But inbound marketing is much more than a slang term. It's more than just a fancy buzzword. It's a better way of doing business.
Inbound marketing is a way to attract your target customers in a way they want to be attracted. It's more aligned with dating than it is high-pressure techniques to hook and book a customer. With inbound, companies find those who want and need their goods or services - actually, inbound helps those customers find you. There is no hard selling, no need to tuck your morals under the rug, and no need to beg for the close.
Inbound is about positive results for the customer and the company alike. But it's easier said than done. If you're going to reap the benefits of inbound marketing, you have to do it skillfully. The truth is, most companies aren't equipped to fully adopt inbound methods as they wish they were. In those cases, companies are forced to get help - and that's where the rubber really meets the road.
Who should you get to help administer inbound marketing? That's the question we're out to answer in this article.
Finding The Best Inbound Marketing Service
The first major decision you will make is, do you want to keep your marketing in-house, hire an agency, or a combination of both? Some companies already have marketing talent on staff, and wish to involve them in the adoption of inbound marketing. Others are just getting started, and need to get their marketing rolling while they hire, train, and equip new staff to take the reins.
Evaluating Inbound Marketing Companies
Regardless of what you decide is best for your business, you need to do your homework and make the right choice. If you're looking for an inbound marketing company to drive your inbound campaigns, you need to know what to look for. Let's look at 12 things you need to consider before paying an inbound marketing company.
1. Do They Care About SMART Goals?
If the agency you are considering doesn't constantly turn to talking about the metrics of success, it may me a red flag moment. At the heart of the work is the measurable that will indicate success and failure. Ensure your agency of choice is in love with numbers and goals to drive your business forward.
2. Easy-To-Understand Pricing
If you're confused about what you're paying for and how it will benefit your company, it's not a good pricing structure. Insist on transparency, and don't get mired in legalese that will add to extra costs you didn't anticipate.
3. Customer Service And Communication
Communication is the number one problem companies have with marketing agencies. Your agency of choice should give you access to their talent, allowing you to reach them at any time. You shouldn’t have to hunt for a phone number or email address to get in touch with customer service; even better if the agency has a specific representative assigned to you.
4. References From Satisfied Clients
If similar businesses have experienced remarkable results, concrete examples should be readily available. Even if the clients don’t offer the same product or service as you, getting a testimonial that the agency has fulfilled its promises goes a long way toward instilling confidence that they will do their best for you.
5. Does Their Marketing Work For Them?
When researching agencies, check out their own websites. How are they using inbound marketing? If an agency doesn't eat their own dog food, you may want to ask why right up front. If they preach content marketing, but fail to publish their own content regularly, it's a major red flag.
They should be able to show you proof that they are benefiting from their own marketing. Also, how did you find them, and how are they nurturing you along in your buying decision. Keep in mind that a marketing agency you hire, will provide your potential customers the same buying experience you had with your agency. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak.
6. Do Your Values Align?
Granted, this might not be as important as some of the other factors listed above. However, if you’re a company who prides itself on being environmentally friendly, for example, you won't want to enlist the services of an agency who sponsors "Polluters of the World Inc." There will be a disconnect in values, which will bleed into your brand.
Trouble Indicators And Warning Signs
Great – you’ve been thorough in your research and found what seems to be an excellent match. But wait!
Before you sign on the dotted line, there are some other items to keep in mind. If you get a hint of the following, you should punch the breaks and have some discussions to calm your fears. Here are some things you should worry about when considering an agency:
1. Cookie Cutters
Every client is different, and each of their personas are different too. You don't need an agency that tries to fit your brand into the same mold as their other clients. While campaigns will be similar and marketing channels may not change, your brand is unique. The marketing strategy needs to reflect your goals, your persona's desires, and your brand's specific position in the market.
2. Pushy Salespeople
If the agency salesperson is more concerned about closing the deal than addressing your concerns, run. Run fast.
We all hate pushy sales tactics. That's one of the reasons Lean Labs has no sales staff. None.
3. Vague Promises
What's the goal? How do you know if you made it? What should be considered if you don't?
4. Outsourced To Cheap Labor
You’re already outsourcing your marketing, so there really shouldn’t be a need to outsource it still further. That said, if the agency offers almost everything you need but has to farm out a small piece elsewhere, make sure this is disclosed up front, and it’s in line with your needs.
5. The Lowest Price
There’s a reason why the expression “You get what you pay for” is so popular. There’s no reason why the lowest bid might not be the best option – but on the other hand, there may be plenty of reasons why. Don’t just grab what’s cheapest.
6. "Account Managers"
There are a lot of great agencies out there, and a lot of them have some talented people that are showcased in their own marketing. But when you sign up for their services, are you going to get access to that superstar? Most likely, you won't even get a chance to talk to them, and if you do, they aren't going to have a lot of time invested in your brand.
Too many agencies are guilty of handing clients to account managers who are young and inexperienced. This is the entry level, and your company gets to be the training ground for this talent until they learn the ropes and get promoted.
It's a good idea to approach this subject when evaluating agencies. Ask who is going to be running your campaign - and what kind of track record of success do they have. At Lean Labs, we also made the conscious decision not to employ account managers. We are a small agency, and we limit how many clients we take on. But those few clients that work with us get to work with "us."
Finding The Best Marketing Company For Your Brand
Marketing is not a “one size fits all” concept. By doing some research, getting employee feedback and asking the right questions regarding your goals, you can come up with an inbound marketing game plan. But even after all of that has been put into motion, don’t be afraid to change things up if you’re not getting results. It’s your company, money and future – so do what’s right for your success.
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