Why Inbound Marketing Requires A Marketing Strategy Before You Start

Posted by Michael Lieberman on Nov 21, 2012 6:58:00 AM

Inbound Marketing Requires a Marketing StrategyLet's be honest. Using HubSpot and practicing inbound marketing isn't the easy solution. It takes practice, it takes training and it takes hard work. It's alot easier to buy some ads, cross our fingers and hope the phone rings. But we know that's not the right advice for our clients.

There is one step you can take to make inbound marketing a little simpler, a little more organized, and a little more planned out. That one step includes creating a comprehensive marketing strategy before you start implementing any of the inbound marketing tactics.

By thinking out your client's marketing startegy before you start implementing the tactics you help them with some of the heavy lifting.

Here are some of the advantages of a strategy before tactics approach.

When you take the time to help them create the personas for their target market, you can identify all the places the people in their target market hang out; the websites they visit, blogs they read, emails they subscribe to. This makes sourcing content out to these properties much easier and much more efficient when it's time to do this task.

Next, you help them create more effective messaging that emotionally connects with the client's target prospects. Landing pages are great. But if you improve their overall marketing messages, they'll see the impact across all aspects of their business.

You help them differentiate their business. This is usually undervalued but if you don't have anything interesting or remarkable to say...why say anything? Why invest any money in marketing?

You know the “whys” behind your client's business.  Not the “whats” or “hows” associated with their delivery but the emotional back story as to why they are even in business to begin with.  That is what people are buying and you need to be able to help your clients articulate it.

You help them create an editorial calendar for all their content for the life of your retainer— further demonstrating your partnership and long term commitment to their business. Blog titles, email subject lines, "free report" titles, topics for videos, ebooks, webinars, infographics, you name it. Planning these out over time makes deciding which ones to create and when to publish them much easier. We introduce all our clients to the Trio of Offers. No Risk, Low Risk, and Offer to Do Business. These have to be planned out, approved, and implemented over time. For more info on the Trio of Offers, click here.

You help to benchmark marketing performance and track improvements weekly, monthly and quarterly. Setting performance expectations helps you establish you and your team as the authority on inbound marketing. While you might not hit the targets every time, you will know when you need to make a change, select new tactics, or double down on tactics that are outperforming your expectations.

Honestly, the marketing planning part of the engagement isn't the easiest or the fastest work you can do, but if you are interested in long-term, retainer-based, strategic partnerships with your clients, this is work you have to strongly consider as a core offering. 

To learn more about how an inbound marketing strategy helps the implementation of an inbound marketing program, click here to download an e-book titled Strategy Before Tactics--How Marketing Strategy Improves The Performance of Inbound Marketing--An Agency’s Guide. 

About the Author: Mike Lieberman is co-founder and president of Square 2 Marketing, an inbound marketing agency, HubSpot partner and creators of Reality Marketing™ that helps entrepreneurial-oriented business owners change the way they think about marketing.

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Topics: inbound marketing, internet marketing strategy, marketing strategy, marketing planning

How to Assess Your Marketing Program & Forecast Potential

Posted by Paul Roetzer on Nov 12, 2012 8:49:00 AM

As you embrace 2013 planning, thoroughly assess your marketing program as a means to identity opportunities and gaps in execution.

With an in-depth understanding of where you are today, and what you have the potential to do, it’s much easier to properly allocate time, talent and budgets, and create strategic plans that propel your program forward

Wondering where to start? Below, I outline 10 areas within your organization that are worth a critical look during the planning process.

10 Marketing Assessment Considerations

  1. Business Cores — To build a powerful marketing program and brand, it’s important that a strong business foundation is in place. Consider business cores such as financial health, customer service, product quality and culture, and how they relate to overall marketing efforts. Are there areas to improve or severe roadblocks that hinder your potential?

  2. Audiences — How well does your organization communicate with key stakeholders such as employees, customers, media and prospects? Are there audiences that you are neglecting?

  3. Marketing Performance — How do you track and report success (i.e. content downloads, customer retention rates, lead quality score, profitability, etc.)? How have your campaigns historically performed in these areas?

  4. Marketing Cores — Do you have the foundational pieces in place that are necessary to truly execute an integrated inbound marketing program, or will much of your time be dedicated to builders that don’t drive immediate results?

  5. Lead Sources — Where do you currently get leads? Can you better capitalize on these outlets? Are there other, more effective, lead-gen sources worth investigating?

  6. Marketing Team Strength — How competent is your internal team in all areas of marketing strategy and execution? Do inadequacies justify hiring a new employee or bringing on an agency for support?

  7. Marketing Technology Utilization — What marketing and sales technologies do you currently use? Are there technologies that would make your job more efficient, effective or track-able?

  8. Social Media Marketing — How is your company currently using social media to connect with audiences, generate leads and raise your profile? Where can you improve?

  9. Content Marketing — Is content creation and distribution a crucial piece of your marketing strategy? Do you regularly blog, and publish content like case studies, ebooks, whitepapers and webinars?

  10. Public Relations — What have you historically done in terms of PR, and are there ways to enhance your program through social, speaking opportunities, content and networking?

Introducing a Marketing Intelligence Engine

The above categories are derived from PR 20/20’s new marketing intelligence engine, Net Marketing Score. As a free online tool, NMS assesses the strength of your business and marketing foundations, forecasts potential and aligns expectations.

Learn more about its origins on the PR 20/20 blog, and sign up for beta access.

Your Thoughts

What do you consider when planning for the new year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About the Author: Paul Roetzer is the founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a certified Gold HubSpot partner and inbound marketing agency that combines content, public relations, social media and search marketing into integrated campaigns.

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Topics: marketing assessment, internet marketing strategy

Speed of Execution

Posted by Pete Caputa on Jun 16, 2008 10:06:00 AM

I sat down with Jason Kallio the other day to talk about his online marketing. We've known each other for a long time and have mutual respect for each other. We had a frank conversation about "Why someone might not sign up for HubSpot."

I mentioned that many people seem to want to "figure internet marketing out" on their own. Nothing that HubSpot enables is revolutionary. Business Blogging, Keyword Research & Tracking, Content Management, Lead Capture, Marketing Analytics. HubSpot didn't invent any of these things. They just made it possible for small business owners to do it through 2 incremental innovations:

  1. They've put it all together in an integrated fashion. Customers can be doing all of these things in < 1 week. Most web development companies take a month or more to pull this stuff together and it usually is nowhere as complete an internet marketing toolset.
  2. Training is included. Most web design and development firms cannot afford to train their clients how to do internet marketing. Success with internet marketing is related to time invested by the company's marketing and sales teams (In a very small business, the business owner plays both roles.). You can more effectively do SEO, blogging, social media marketing in-house than you can by outsourcing. Most web development and internet marketing firms, however, want you to pay them $200/hr to do it for you. This stuff isn't rocket science. With a few hours of training, most of our clients are generating leads pretty quickly.

Back to my conversation with Jason. Jason said to me, I'd never think of trying to do this myself. For me, it's "all about speed of execution".

And he's right. Russ Swallow, the MA dental insurance opponent, signed up less than 2 weeks ago. I spoke to him this morning on my commute. He's already published 3 blog posts, search engine optimized his pages and is half way down the HubSpot checklist. He still has plenty more to do, but he's well on his way.

Two months in... Dave Lima, the expert MA bankruptcy lawyer, is producing blog posts at two/week, hosting guest bloggers, networking effectively online, and most importantly, is generating leads and new business.

Then, there's Darcy Cook who's five months in. She's building her business online. She recently spoke on a radio show about her experience with online marketing and how she's closed more deals in her first few months than she generated leads in the whole year prior to using HubSpot.

How long has it taken you to implement 'your own' internet marketing strategy? What's that costing you?

Noel, the telecom expense management guru, says it best in a comment on the HubSpot blog post I wrote about planning your internet marketing strategy:

John is right on one account when he says "learn how to market your business on the web yourself". I would add, and do it using a proven methodology and experts, then add the hard work. While John is out searching the web trying to find the short cuts and getting "free" info I've already designed my site, ranked my keywords, gotten leads, made sales and taken my $250 investment and made thousands.

The only thing I'd add to that is that "Speed of Execution" doesn't stop after launch. Speed of Continuous Improvement is actually more important. Most companies do not have the the right systems in place to measure what's working, nor do they execute their internet marketing strategy in the right order.

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Topics: internet marketing strategy, internet marketing

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