Why Your Inbound Marketing Must Be Global—Even If Your Biz Isn't

    Posted by Ed Marsh on Jan 12, 2013 7:37:00 AM

    The threat from outside and the opportunity within

    The beauty of inbound marketing is that it's simple. Sure, there are fine points and best practices. But its power as a market equalizer is that any company can do it - and do it well.  Not all do, of course, and conversely a few do it brilliantly.  

    Although simple, it's not easy. It takes a firm senior executive strategic commitment because it demands a lot of work and patience. And often companies are hesitant to undertake too many simultaneous strategic initiatives. That's sensible. But if the "Devil is in the details," then the risk/reward is in selecting the one or two concurrent foci.

    Globalization of your business and of your inbound marketing specifically, should be on that short list.

    Two parallel trends provide compelling justification for that strategic focus.

    First is the threat from outside. China is awakening to the compelling opportunity offered by inbound marketing.  

    Second is the demographic reality of domestic US consumer evolution. One of every 2 babies born in the US now is Latino. Marketing to them requires nuanced approaches and content which will differ from your baseline.

    The inbound threat

    global business international inbound marketingThe Chinese are coming...will you be ready this time? Having lost much of the low-cost manufacturing advantage upon which they built their amazing decade of export growth, Chinese companies are awakening to the need and opportunity to market effectively to US consumers.  

    Sure, like most innovation evolutions, the initial quality will be low and execution will be clumsy. But eventually they will learn to excel. And other developing markets will follow suit. Soon your prospects will be awash in content from global sources. Competition will intensify.

    You've got the opportunity to solidify your "first mover" advantage, though, with the focused, immediate and ongoing application of inbound marketing best practices. The key is to stop dabbling and start executing! (Download PR Newswire's report in English or Chinese here.)

    Can you even talk to 50% of your market?

    latino inbound marketingThe statistics are clear. Half of the babies born in the US today are Latino. And while the future population distribution will reflect that trend, even today Latinos represent a substantial body of consumption clout. (We love for you to take our quick survey on your experience/thoughts regarding Latino content marketing.)  

    Now the concept of Latino Marketing isn't novel. A few thought leaders (mostly consumer packaged goods) companies have developed marketing for Hispanic communities. But it is still quite early, and the efforts are lacking the nuance required for success.

    The reality is, there is no monolithic "Latino" community. Consumers with different dialects (not to mention different languages - Spanish vs. Portuguese), vastly different cultures and traditions, biases and prejudices and consumption habits are often lumped into a single group.

    But understanding how to market to the statistically important and distinct groups requires an intimacy and breadth of cultural knowledge that is absent in most American companies. And if the recent article in Portada is correct, "Hispanic Content Marketing (may be) set to explode." will the explosion damage or propel your efforts?

    I would contend that the best, and perhaps only way you can develop the expertise imperative for successful domestic growth in the coming decades is actually to begin to market and sell throughout Latin America. At Consilium we believe that one of the most underappreciated benefits of exporting is the  opportunity to learn lessons to be applied to your domestic market. And this is a perfect example.

    The global opportunity is even bigger

    If you have any substantive inbound marketing today you are accustomed to receiving a large number of international leads. Experience tells me that while you covet domestic leads, scoring them, nurturing them and hopefully converting them, you probably simply ignore the international leads.

    What a shame! In an environment of very slow domestic growth, opportunities in developing markets are particularly compelling. Even with your existing program you'll start to identify pockets of compelling opportunity.  Don't waste those leads! Find someone with real international sales and global business development expertise that can help you manage global growth while mitigating risks and maximizing the potential.

    But while you're at it, maybe you should step up into full fledged international inbound marketing - elevate your domestic game to embrace global opportunities!

    And inbound marketing agencies have an opportunity.  Work dilligently with your clients to position their inbound marketing and help them understand the competitive advantage, and defense bulwark that simultaneously creates.  And then work with them to develop the nuanced and localized multilingual & cultural content required to cement their success domestically - not just with some of their prospects, but with all.


    About the Author: Ed Marsh is co-founder of Consilium Global Business Advisors, an international marketing consulting agency focused on developing strategic global business development and channel programs.

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    Topics: multicultural marketing, latino marketing, inbound marketing, international inbound marketing

    Hybrid Professionals: A Rare Breed

    Posted by Tracy Lewis on Dec 12, 2012 9:09:00 AM

    Marketing professionals equipped with the skills needed for inbound success are, unfortunately, often difficult to find. Few agencies and marketing departments are structured to provide on-the-job training that sophisticated marketing programs require, and few universities have adapted curricula quickly enough to develop the young professionals we so desperately need.

    According to Eloqua’s 2012 Marketing Skills Gap survey, “75% of marketers say their lack of skills is impacting revenue in some way, and 74% say it’s contributing to misalignment between the marketing and sales teams.”

    So what’s causing the gap? According to Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) in The Hybrids are Coming: Evolution of the Prototype Marketer, there are three main forces—change velocity, selective consumption and success factors. All of which are influenced by innovations in technology that are changing consumers’ purchasing processes, and the way marketers build, execute and track campaigns.

    That said, it makes sense that the biggest deficiencies exist in mathematical and technical skills. So, what can you do as a marketer to stay ahead of the trends, keep abreast of new technologies and push your capabilities forward? Read on.

    Be Continually Curious

    Curious GeorgeWith the industry evolving on a daily basis, it’s hard to keep up. That’s why curiosity and a desire to learn are two of the best traits you can acquire as a modern marketer.

    Looking to advance yourself? There are a wealth of free online resources available to bring you up to speed on all things inbound—from content marketing to data analysis. Check out this list from Christina Schmitz (@christinacs).

    It’s also helpful to set up Twitter lists of influential marketers to easily stay on top of real-time industry news, developments and best practices. Here’s an example list created by my colleague Jessica Donlon (@jessicadonlon) that provides a good starting point.

    Finally, consider industry conferences to learn from tried-and-true professionals. My favorites are SXSW Interactive, Inbound and Content Marketing World.

    Find a Trusted Partner

    Remember, you’re not alone. As you’re evolving your skills, it may be in your best interest to outsource some activities to an agency partner.

    With a savvy, hybrid agency in tow, you gain a support system that can help move you in the right direction, answer your questions and fill in skill gaps. 

    How are you advancing your professional development? Share your wins, struggles and resources in the comments.

    About the Author: Tracy Lewis is an inbound marketing consultant with 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.

    Related reading: B2B Marketer’s Guide to Going Inbound [Ebook]

    Image Credit: jsmjr

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    Topics: inbound marketing, marketing talent

    The 5 Email Marketing Blunders that Lead to Unsubscribes

    Posted by John Bonini on Dec 11, 2012 11:50:00 AM

    The 5 Email Marketing Blunders that Lead to Unsubscribes

    On the heels of a new year, there are two things you can almost always count on;

    1. Ryan Seacrest's ear muffs on "Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve."
    2. A plethora of blog articles detailing where marketing is going.

    The latter is in full swing as we speak, with pretty much every marketing blog in the western world providing insider information on where you should expect to allocate your marketing budget in the coming year. 

    I'm here to tell you that this blog is really no different. However, rather than forecast my opinion, I'm going to base where I think email marketing is headed based on the changes I'm seeing right now. 

    With the consumer shift to digital and mobile devices, it's no secret that marketing is transitioning to a more personalized, segmented approach. The days of blasting offers or information to your entire contact list are gone. Included below are the five most common email marketing techniques of "yester-year" that will be rendered ineffective in 2013.

    5 Email Marketing Blunders that Lead to Unsubscribes 

    1. Too Many Emails

    The line between too little and too many is often very hard to decipher. As a marketer myself, I often feel if I'm not consistently engaging my contact list, I'll fall from their consciousness.

    However, you have to give your contact a little bit more credit. They've already engaged with your website and obviously thought you valuable enough to subscribe too. The challenge now? Don't make them regret their decision. (As I've often done with brands I used to subscribe to.)

    This is why segmenting your contacts is so critical (more on that in a bit). It ensures you're not bombarding the same people with emails three times a week. Give them time to digest the content or information you've sent them. If you find yourself trigger happy, utilize HubSpot workflows which will let you send automated, yet personalized emails at your desired schedule. 

    This way...no one forgets about each other. After all, it's much better to remind someone of your brand than to lose them altogether. 

    2. No Segmentation

    Walk into every store, and you'll see several types of prospects:

    • Those browsing
    • Those comparing products/talking with salesmen
    • Those standing in line with a basket of products

    Now obviously, you wouldn't trample the "browser" who just entered your store with a "let's talk price" type pitch. Why? Because you'd be generalizing all of your customers into one 'stage of the buying cycle', effectively losing most of them.

    So why would you practice this with your email marketing? It simply doesn't make sense to blast out emails to your entire contact list anymore (unless it's a huge sale or company news). Segment your leads into categories. 

    Those leads who downloaded your offer on social media engagement? Perhaps they would be interested on your new whitepaper detailing brand awareness using Twitter. Those that viewed your case study and pricing page might respond to an 'free consultation' offer.

    Simply give them what they want. Don't generalize. 

    3. Overly Salesy

    Simply put: don't go all "used-car salesmen" on your email recipients. Consumers have become so accustomed to digesting content quickly with the advent of smart phones and tablets, that they're also fine-tuned to delete "spammy" sounding emails. 

    Avoid words like:

    • Free
    • Act now
    • Hurry!
    • Instant savings
    • Anything with exclamation points!!!!!!!

    Your contacts have already taken an interest in your product/service. Once again, don't screw it up and make them regret this. Instead of pitching and upselling your entire service, convey the value of your product or service and how they can benefit. 

    Bottom line: forget about yourself...make it about them. 

    4. No Value Conveyed

    Building off that last thought, your emails should focus on the benefits of what you're offering, rather than the features of it.

    While they may sound one and the same, spending too much time blowing your horn and the features you're offering will turn people off. You know what they really want to know? How it's going to help them. 

    So tell them.

    Why do they need this offer? How will they benefit? What will they learn? 

    To keep the focus on the consumer, it helps to keep them focusing inward — putting the wheels in motion for change and improvement. If all they're thinking about is how arrogant and great you say you are, where's the potential for reflection?

    5. Not Tracking & Measuring Performance 

    You know all that time you spent searching for the right image to include in your email? Turns out, it didn't make much difference. No one clicked in the email anyway. 

    So what was the problem? Your perfect image, or your content? 

    Ensure you're not spending too much time on things that hold no significance to the bottom line (opens and clicks) otherwise you'll be wasting time and resources. 

    Every email sent should be tracked and measured to determine what went right, and what could have been done better. If you don't, you're leaving the door open to the possibility that the one thing that's annoying readers and leading to unsubscribes will go unchanged. 

    What's Next?

    While it's impossible to tell what's coming, it's certainly easy to see what's happening right now. And consumers have responded. They want what's relevant to them. Anything else will wind up in the trash.

    Learn how to turn these tips into real results with "The Fast Track to Powerful Emails."

    About the Author: John Bonini is the marketing manager of IMPACT Branding & Design, an inbound marketing agency focused on creating powerful marketing campaigns that deliver results.  

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    Topics: email marketing, unsubscribes, inbound marketing

    Picking a Marketing Strategy Is Rarely Easy

    Posted by Peter Caputa on Nov 28, 2012 1:15:00 PM

    inbound-marketing-squad-marketing-strategiesI recently finished reading a 2-part blog post by Mary Planding, owner of Inbound Marketing Squad (@inboundsquad) and my editor for this blog. I think you'll find the articles useful as you try to determine which marketing strategies you should implement in your business.

    Her first article declares that marketing strategies are a dime a dozen—finding lots of choices isn't hard. But picking the right strategy for your business can be very difficult. Mary's point of view is that a marketing strategy should help you filter out the thousands of distracting (yet enticing) ideas that can keep you from reaching your goal. And she uses a really cool analogy about racing in the America's Cup to explain marketing strategies and making choices. It's a great analogy because in both situations - your marketing and the America's Cup racers - there are limited resources and unpredictable conditions that make it hard to 'cross the finish line'.

    Here are some excerpts:

    • The world will always be filled with endless possibilities. But in the end, you want to focus on the most effective marketing strategies that help you achieve your desired goal.

    • Sometimes Mother Nature can surprise you and then you're scrambling to improvise, drawing upon your experience, knowledge, the conditions and your resources to help you win the race.

    • Whenever you try to sail directly into the wind, you're not only dead in the water, you can even be pushed backwards. 

    • Regardless of which leg of the course you're on, the more often you tack, the more time and distance you have to make up. And you can't change that dynamic. Physics, after all, is physics.

    In her second article, which I found even more useful, Mary and her guest experts, share 5 tips for how to sort through and then choose the marketing strategies that are right for your business.

    Here are some highlights:

    • Understanding why you're marketing is the key to defining a successful path to your goals. (Jeff Mason, Hero Design Studio)

    • You can't pick a strategy if you aren't specific about what the strategy is supposed to help you achieve. (Mary Planding, Inbound Marketing Squad)

    • You want to pick a marketing strategy that allows you to acquire new customers and still remain profitable. (Dan Swanson, Exit Rich

    • Think about "no" as a personal lifejacket. Taking on certain projects can be like taking on water as you sail. (Ilene Rosenthal, White Space Marketing Group)

    • Often people choose a strategy that's cool, neat, hot, but instead of playing to their strengths, it draws unwanted attention to their weaknesses. The result is their efforts negate any potential gains they've made. (Mary Planding, Inbound Marketing Squad)

    Go read the articles. It should help you create a stronger marketing plan for 2013.

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    Topics: marketing strategies, inbound marketing, marketing strategy

    How to Enhance Inbound Marketing Planning With Creative Visualization

    Posted by Ryan Malone on Nov 27, 2012 12:50:00 PM

    inbound marketing planning visualizationWhat do golf legend Jack Nicklaus, basketball great Michael Jordan and decorated Olympian Michael Phelps all have in common? They have all embraced creative visualization to become better athletes.

    In fact, visualization is widely embraced by athletes in nearly every sport. Terry Orlick, a noted sports psychologist and high-performance coach to thousands of Olympic and professional athletes in more than 30 sports, states in his book, In Pursuit of Excellence, that most Olympic athletes and world champions practice at least 15 minutes of visualization daily. 

    Don’t mistake visualization for hokey, self-help speak. It is one of the most widely accepted methods in sports psychology and is supported by significant scientific evidence. And it isn’t only applicable to sports--visualization is a practice used by successful people across a broad range of professions.   

    We use visualization technique to drive our strategic planning and the planning of inbound campaigns for clients and ourselves. Why? We’re all busy. And many of us get sucked into tactics all too frequently – sacrificing the planning team that can bring our marketing to the next level.

    What is Visualization?

    Most simply put, visualization is a technique for creating a mental image of a future event. It involves focusing your mind to visualize yourself in a certain situation and succeeding in that particular situation. Through the practice of visualization, we train our brain to believe that attaining a desired goal is possible. For instance, a golfer may visualize the perfect stroke over and over again to mentally train muscle memory.

    According to David Yukelson, Ph.D, sports psychologist for Penn State University, “when you vividly imagine yourself getting ready for competition, your central nervous system becomes programmed for success. It's as if the activity you visualized has already happened.”

    Apply this to inbound marketing planning and it means visualizing the metrics that will yield a successful campaign – literally seeing those results in Hubspot or whatever analytics tools you use.

    How Does Visualization Work?

    Research done using brain imagery suggests that visualization works because the neurons in our brains interpret imagery as the equivalent to taking a real-life action. When a person visualizes an act, the brain generates an impulse that tells their neurons to “perform” the movement. So when an athlete imagines him or herself performing their sport to perfection, he or she is physiologically training their mind and thus teaching their muscles to perform exactly how he or she wants them to.

    Using Visualization to Become a Better Marketer

    In today’s fast-paced business environment, so many marketers are guilty of getting wrapped up in the day-to-day minutia that it becomes difficult to focus on long-term planning and strategy development that will ultimately lead to our success. Visualization techniques could help you achieve your ultimate goals by improving your planning skills.

    We’re all short on time but we can easily incorporate visualization into our marketing daily routines. It's something you’ll need to do outside of the office, where you can be alone and get deep into your thoughts. Try doing it on your morning run, in your yoga or spin class, when you take the dog on a walk or even on your daily commute. If you’re in California like we are, some time at the beach for lunch is a great way to isolate your mind and your thinking.

    So once you have your alone time, how do you get started?

    1. Pick a specific goal: That can be anything from increasing sales by 30% to becoming the leading blogger in your field to improving your lead conversion rate.

    2. Choose your mental image: Really visualize your campaigns and their specific outcomes. Imagine writing your strategy; envision the steps you took to achieve this successful marketing campaign. See the words, the content and the metrics that drove your success. Hear the call where you share your success with your team, your boss or clients. Imagine yourself celebrating your success with your colleagues and imagine how it will feel to have reached your goal.

    3. Visualize daily: See that image of success you painted in your mind and make that feeling very real.

    4. Write it down: When you’re done, write down the key success factors you see and build them into your daily routine. Make them part of your planning.

    Once you visualize all of the steps that it took to achieve your success, and the specific outcomes of each of those steps, you have a clear plan for your activities and how to create a successful campaign. Think of each of those steps and work backwards to what has to happen and it will help you develop your marketing goals, strategy and objectives, so that you can create a plan that will help you to become incredibly successful.             

    Keep in mind that just visualizing your success isn’t going to get you to your final goal, but what it will do is give you an effective way to begin planning. And planning is something that a lot of us don’t do well. But if we can improve planning skills, we can stop wasting time on the little things and start spending time on the specific actions we know will help us reach success.

    What ways could you use creative visualization to improve your marketing planning? Leave your comments below.

    About the author: Ryan Malone is the founder of SmartBug Media, a California inbound marketing agency and Silver Hubspot Partner that help companies increase revenue and marketing ROI.

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    Topics: blogging for business, business advice, inbound marketing, marketing strategy, marketing planning, internet marketing coach, inbound marketing agency, smartbug media, ryan malone, strategic planning

    Our B2B Marketing is solid - we already do all that "content" stuff

    Posted by Ed Marsh on Nov 26, 2012 7:30:00 AM

    The Paradox of Content Marketing Success

    Content marketing is gaining traction.  

    In practice that is unalloyed great news for B2B marketers. Those who embrace best practices and diligently craft a fabric woven on a warp of amazing content will generate really remarkable results.

    But as a buzzword it has potentially disastrous potential. Well meaning but ignorant interpretations abound and self-anointed experts are being birthed at an alarming rate.

    Each "expert" who fails to effectively structure an inbound marketing program jeopardizes the future viability of a company which will move forward to compete in increasingly competitive markets at a distinct disadvantage. And in each case that will be tragic because the desire was there, but opportunity will have been squandered through poor execution.

    Collectively the risk is even greater. A small number of companies that have realized the potential of well crafted inbound marketing will proselytize regarding the benefits of inbound marketing. But a much larger group that casually implemented a poorly conceived or incomplete program, and received commensurate returns, will join in a chorus of frustration - discounting the potential for B2B marketing success.

    "We're already doing that"

    If you sell to businesses you've certainly heard this before. And you've probably thought to yourself. "No way. You don't even have a clue what I'm talking about."

    Now there are two possibilities in that situation. The prospect may be right. Perhaps they're doing something that is similar to what you propose, in a way that is good enough for them. Alternatively, you could be right. They may be just blowing you off, or perhaps they think they are leveraging a similar solution to good effect without really understanding the nuance or even the foundational principles of the concept.  

    So assuming you have at least adequate sales skills, and still can't overcome the myopic intransigence of the prospect, what's at play?

    If you're selling to huge companies you could simply be bumping into junior execs or administrators who validate the "Peter Principle" or are protecting their turf. But if you're speaking to senior executives in SMBs, you're probably caught in a sensitivity trap!

    Extroverts, sensitivity and recognition of threats

    What we're really talking about here is a threat. In the case of a company adopting a comprehensive, strategically sound inbound marketing program the threat to which they would respond would be one of diminished marketing effectiveness, stagnating sales and enterprise decay.

    But what if......the sort of person most likely to boldly start, grow and manage a business is the sort least likely to intuit or even account for subtle and uncertain threats? That's precisely one of the hypothesis of Susan Cain's (@susancain) book Quiet. Controversial? Certainly. Conclusive? Perhaps not. Make sense based on personal experience? Probably. The hard charging business founder who has launched despite the horrific odds and persevered through situations which would have brought others to their knees simply can't afford to worry about ghosts behind trees. And therefore they overlook potential legitimate threats too, and discount seemingly insignificant differences in approaches to problems.

    Inbound marketing's "Achiles' Heel"

    Therein lies the biggest risk to inbound marketing success. When executed properly the payoff in B2B marketing success is huge. But if it's not done right, the payoff is negligible. And too many extroverted, 'insensitive' (don't get pissed off, read the book instead to understand) types can point to a couple activities (maybe occasional press releases published on a website under the title of 'blog', or a company LinkedIn page or Twitter handle) and dismissively assert "We already do that."

    But you can be different! Seriously! Don't let your hard charging business blinders obscure the seemingly minor details that are critically important. In inbound marketing "the Devil (really) is in the details." 

    And a good place to start is with an easy to digest overview of how your business sales and marketing environment is evolving. Understanding where we came from, where we are and where we're going is critical to mapping the route to success. And a step by step strategy goes a long way toward demystifying something that is far more complicated than you imagined.

    So change your tune! Instead of "We already do that" try responding with "We have to do that!" and embrace the potential of B2B marketing success.

    About the Author: Ed Marsh is co-founder of Consilium Global Business Advisors, an international marketing consulting agency focused on developing strategic global business development and channel programs.
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    Topics: small business marketing, inbound marketing, content marketing, b2b lead generation

    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

    Going Lean: 10 Ways Your Inbound Agency Can Strive for Excellence

    Posted by John McTigue on Nov 14, 2012 8:59:00 PM

    strive for excellence

    To create successful inbound marketing campaigns, it's important to create processes to ensure that multiple lead nurturing efforts can be launched in the most efficient way. Furthermore, it's crucial to embrace continuous improvement so these campaigns bring in the greatest number of sales qualified leads possible. These practices help make your marketing agency, or any company, run more efficiently while attracting more clients and more talent.

    As we continue to implement these standards and practices, we wondered what some specific things we—and you— could do to enhance these processes on a daily basis. First, let's identify some simple goals your team can rally around to make your shop a better place to work.

    Goals to Help Us Strive for Excellence on a Daily Basis

    • Our team and clients understand what we are saying
    • We can clearly see the relationship between effort and success
    • Every day we seem to be getting better at what we do
    • We see ourselves as winners, and our customers do too
    • When we have problems, we fix them right away and move on

    Here, we brainstorm easy steps each of us can take to achieve these goals:

    1. Resist the temptation to speak right away when asked a question. Think about your response and how to say it clearly.
    2. Create a plan, just a simple to-do list, for every day. Execute the plan and review your progress before you go home. Then create tomorrow's plan.
    3. When you run into a roadblock, add a to-do item to your list to solve it. You don't necessarily have to drop what you're doing now. Just commit to solving it later.
    4. Prioritize your to-do list, and don't let things slide more than a day or two at the most.
    5. Discuss your challenges and successes with your peers and bosses. Ask for their opinions and recommendations.
    6. Set aside time every day during work to think. Yes, think. Take your most challenging to-do item and go somewhere quiet and think. Let your work neighbor know that's what you're doing in case you're needed. Let your boss know that's what you want to do and negotiate a reasonable amount of time.
    7. Identify what's holding you back from becoming a genuine rockstar at your job. Talk to your peers and your boss about it and figure out a plan to get there. Work those steps into your daily plan.
    8. Blur the lines between work and play. If your job is challenging and rewarding, both personally and professionally, why worry about how much time you spend on each part? When work is stressful, play hard to balance it. When work is awesome, celebrate with your teammates.
    9. Own something. Strive to be a leader in your project, your field, your social network, your company. Leadership is hard to find and even harder to teach. You know what it means to be a leader, you just have remember to be one every day.
    10. Write a couple of blog posts every week. Your company definitely needs your help, so you'll make an immediate impact. The big benefit is personal. Expressing your ideas, getting published and getting feedback from outsiders is one of the most rewarding things you can do—and it's out there, on the record for everyone to see. Pretty cool.

    Make Your Own Top 10 List

    We wanted to let you know that continuous improvement isn't necessarily an organizational thing, nor is it simply a formula with statistical measurements. It starts with our own daily habits and attitudes. By working on just a few things each day, we can improve ourselves and be better team members, and those things have a profound impact on success at every level.

    LeanDigital Large4

    About the Author: John McTigue is the Executive Vice President and Co-Owner of Kuno Creative, an industry-leading inbound marketing agency and certified Gold HubSpot partner.

    photo credit: Pompeychuck

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    Topics: john mctigue, lean strategies, lead nurturing, inbound marketing, kuno creative

    Why You Are Failing at Inbound Marketing

    Posted by Peter Caputa on Aug 16, 2012 11:19:00 AM

    When people fail at inbound marketing, it's usually because they didn't do what the experts told them to do for some reason. Maybe they weren't capable, they didn't listen, they didn't prioritize it or they didn't believe it would work for them. But, tactically speaking, there are also many things that inbound marketing failures don't do, don't do right or don't do frequently enough.

    Below are the most important things that unsuccessful inbound marketers should have done. I could have included, "they didn't use twitter properly". But nobody fails at inbound marketing because they didn't grow their twitter follower count fast enough.

    Companies fail at inbound marketing because of the following bulleted list of things. I've put these in a specific sequence. I don't think I could tell you which failures happen more often than others. But, the things at the top of the list are the first hurdles that companies run into. And if they don't get over these first few hurdles, they don't usually have enough success to hit the roadblocks later in this list:

    1. They don't blog frequently enough. You can't grow traffic without blogging consistently, as in multiple times per week. You can't grow search traffic and social traffic withouth blogging consistently.
    2. They don't create enough educational, top-of-the-funnel offers. They don't create ebooks and webinars that entice anonymous website visitors to share their contact information in exchange for these free educational materials.
    3. They don't put [at least some of their] educational offers behind landing pages. They just give them away. People download them, and never come back. And since the company didn't collect their information, they have no way to market or sell to them.
    4. They don't drive traffic to their landing pages using calls-to-action (CTA) buttons and text. They don't place CTAs in blog posts, in email campaigns or on their home page. They don't promote landing pages on social media and don't optimize them for search. Some fools don't even point their pay-per-click traffic to landing pages using compelling calls to action in their ad copy.
    5. They don't nurture their leads using email marketing frequently enough. Once they capture the lead, they don't send any more educational content to the lead. They don't effectively establish themselves as a credible resource that provides ongoing value.
    6. They don't call their leads. Way too many companies either wait for their leads to call them by phone or to fill out a form that says "call me please". Before the days of inbound marketing, salespeople didn't wait for people to call them. Buyers are less receptive to being interrupted these days, but they haven't suddenly decided to buy more things more proactively on blind faith only after reading someone's content. If someone shares their contact information on a form on your website, and they fit your ideal persona, you should be trying to connect with them.
    7. They give up trying to connect with leads after 1 or 2 attempts. Companies who successfully leverage inbound marketing to grow sales call their leads 5-8 times over several weeks. And then again if they revisit their website. Really good salespeople won't let that good lead get away without connecting with them. They'll try for a long, long time to initiate a conversation. They'll use social media, email, voicemails and introductions from mutual contacts as ways to get in contact.
    8. They don't know how to engage a lead who isn't ready to talk about their company's product or services yet. They get frustrated because leads aren't ready to talk about doing business right away, like a qualified referral often is. Most inbound leads aren't as warm as referrals, unfortunately. Salespeople who cold call are excellent at building rapport, establishing relevance via positioning statements and credibility through asking the right questions. These prospecting skills are absolutely critical for turning inbound leads into sales.
    9. They don't have a consultative sales process that identifies a prospect's goals and challenges and then relates those goals and challenges to the right solution using the products and services that their company provides. Salespeople must be able to co-create a plan with the prospect that will help them. They must have the sales skills for this job and a process that demonstrates their ability to deliver value successfully post-sale.

    These are the main reasons why companies fail to grow their traffic, leads and sales using inbound marketing. Yes, you can get away with not doing some of these things. But, companies who do all of these things will be the most successful.

    Which mistakes do you see company's making? How have you helped them overcome these challenges? Which mistakes are you making? How have you overcome these challenges?

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    Topics: inbound marketing

    Business Trends That Make the Case for Inbound Networking

    Posted by Todd Hockenberry on Jul 30, 2012 9:07:00 AM

    This is a guest post from Todd Hockenberry, owner of Top Line Results (@TopLineResults), a sales & marketing consulting and services firm that specializes in working with manufacturing companies. Todd is an expert at both sales and marketing and sees around the corners that most don't know exist yet...

    While reading some of my favorite blogs, I came across the following trends that lead me to believe that the inbound networking movement is a significant opportunity for small businesses and solopreneurs.  The trends...

    Trend 1: Outsourcing, while nothing new, continues to grow and is expected to keep growing according to this survey by Deloitte.

    inbound marketing

    All of these categories are areas where companies outsource a significant amount of business. The number of companies planning to outsource more of their sales and marketing support is more than double than the companies currently doing it. 

    Trend 2: Data shows that the size of the average business is getting smaller.  The distribution of businesses by size shows a relatively few giant corporations, a narrower center made up of a shrinking number of mid-sized firms, and a large and rapidly growing number of small, micro and one person (solopreneur) firms.

    inbound marketing

    Trend 3: Large companies are employing less people full time and more people on a contingency basis. The contingent share of the work force working at larger firms (those firms with over 1,000 employees) has grown steadily in the last few years.

    contingent work force resized 600

    The US Census says that large firms (1,000 or more employees) employ around 53 million Americans.  Some quick math says that these large firms have added about 2.7 million total contingent workers - in the US - over the last seven years.  Another survey, a recent Aberdeen study showed that 26% of the total corporate workforce is contingent.

    Trend 4: One more seemingly obvious (to most inbound marketers) and at the same time obscure (in its depth) trend is toward the use of big data by small companies. 

    I will use an example from politics.  It seems that politicians segment and use persona development as well as any inbound marketer I know.  As crazy as it sounds, it seems my beer choice factors in to who I might vote for...

    inbound marketing

    Voters are micro-targeted by the car they drive, the soft drinks they buy, where they eat, where they shop, what they watch on TV, music, radio... you name it. This shows that there is almost an infinite number of ways to chop up data and develop target personas, so that very niche businesses can target very refined prospects.

    When you put all of these trends together, you can start to see the potential of inbound networking:

    • millions of people are starting solo or small businesses (me being one of them),
    • companies are outsourcing work to these soloprenuers at rates that will only increase,
    • and data is available to help these solopreneurs define and attract their target personas, no matter how niche.

    Inbound marketing is necessary to help make the right connections! These small businesses/soloprenuers/contingent workers need to market their services and get found by prospects. Companies need to find these people because these companies are not hiring full time employees as often and want to hedge their bets by hiring small businesses/soloprenuers/contingent workers. Data exists to target to very specific markets for these small businesses/soloprenuers/contingent workers.

    Inbound networking will be necessary to help these small businesses do inbound marketing cost-effectively! Think about all of these small businesses and the challenges they have to just stay afloat, let alone devote enough time to do inbound marketing aggressively.  Content creation will be a constant challenge. Very few very small businesses will be able to build enough authority and relevance with the search engines in order to get found by enough prospects.

    In order to establish themselves, solopreneurs and small businesses will need to work together with complimentary businesses. They'll need to create an inbound marketing network effect by helping each other attract a larger audience, then cross-marketing and cross-selling each other's services.

    There are certainly many trends that are driving the rapid growth of inbound marketing and inbound networking. How are you going to take advantage of them?

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    Topics: inbound marketing

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