The Inbound Marketing Amoeba - Blurring Departmental Lines

    Posted by Ed Marsh on Feb 12, 2013 7:09:00 AM

    The Inbound Marketing Panacea

    "Content marketing is so freakin' awesome it will actually take your company over for you and run it better than you can!" 

    About tired of that sort of inane promotion? I am.

    Most folks reading this have bought into the value of inbound marketing. It really is a remarkable evolution in the practice of marketing.  It has transformative functional and financial benefits. And the evolution it is forcing has created substantial changes and opportunities in organizations - not only within the marketing orb.  

    While sales isn't going away, it has to adapt. And while companies would be crazy to forgo their hard won domestic business, they now have amazing global opportunities created through their inbound marketing.

    But it doesn't fundamentally change your business model and it doesn't solve half the problems some claim. But what if.......

    What if Inbound Marketing could support product marketing and R&D?

    inbound marketing research and developmentSound nuts? Well that's precisely what Beth Comstock, GE's CMO says they are intent on doing.   In a recent interview with Think with Google she spoke of the marketer's role in "connecting the dots" and said "When you're in this business, you see a lot of things, marketers are in a great position to notice if something's happening in an industry."

    Comstock added "Marketing is now about creating and developing new markets; not just identifying opportunities but also making them happen."

    So you don't have the staff of 5,000 marketers that she has at her disposal - but you do have an incredible equalizing tool. The power of your content.

    Pinpoints of light

    I guarantee there are applications that you've never considered. That's one of the benefits of global sales that we often discuss. Put your product in a different environment and it's amazing to observe the new uses which people will naturally discover.

    And that's with your product in its standard form.  But beyond that, somewhere out there are 5, 25 maybe hundreds of enterprising, entrepreneurial folks who are discouraged — they're slaving over products they have invented and are refining but they can't get them quite right. They're missing the secret sauce of your enabling technology.  

    And even with an army of 5,000 you're not going to find them.  So you have a choice — go about your business every day ignorant of the opportunities which you're foregoing, or figure out how to leverage the tools that content and inbound marketing provide.

    Will this approach double your company with a deluge of license or resale revenue? Probably not. But wouldn't some be awesome? Revenue without the operational hassles? And are there caveats? Sure. There is your IP to protect — you're not going to lay it all out in your content.

    But if you start to incorporate pieces into your editorial calendar (posts about related technologies, participation in different LinkedIn groups, webinars about how your technology has enabled others, etc.) all optimized for an appropriate category of search terms, you'll find an interesting crop of developmental leads to harvest.

    The key is to see content, your content promotion and inbound marketing efforts in the larger context. It should be simply being more efficient at finding more of the same — it's about being easy to be found by the folks who should find you, whether you know them or not.

    And be open to discussing new applications, uses and opportunities. Don't just reflexively reply "that's not what we do."

    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.
    Image from Los Alamos National Labs.

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    Topics: marketing assessment, product marketing, inbound marketing, marketing strategy

    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

    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

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