You’ve probably heard about Inbound Marketing, a promising, digitally driven modern methodology that “pulls” leads into the sales funnel by attracting them with interesting and useful information. No more interrupting prospects with cold calls. No more once-and-done, overpriced ads. Inbound Marketing sounds as refreshing and satisfying as a margarita on the rocks with salt after a long, hard day. You’re ready to take a sip! What aggressive, growth-minded company wouldn’t want to leverage modern marketing to gain qualified B2B buyers? All you need to do is buy marketing automation / lead generation software to kick-start your efforts. It’s a little pricey (usually between $7,500 – $20,000 + the cost of training), but you’re ready to commit because just one new customer will pay for the annual investment.
STOP! Put the AMEX away and carefully read the rest of this post. It will save you from making a big mistake.
So why would the Owner of Marketri, a marketing automation user, reseller, and true believer steer you away from making a software purchase as the first step in your Inbound Marketing journey? This seemingly questionable business decision on my part is, in fact, an attempt to help your new Inbound Marketing program succeed. I’ve seen too many B2B companies launch Inbound Marketing programs with a software purchase, only to have those programs fail. Company owners and staff end up blaming HubSpot, Marketo, or SharpSpring when it’s not the software’s fault. Purchasers simply put the cart before the horse. B2B companies need to have an Inbound Marketing program securely in place in order to successfully use HubSpot, or any other marketing automation platform, to power it.
Before signing on the dotted line, start your Inbound Marketing program free of subscription software by making sure these foundational pieces are in place:
- A modern, mobile-friendly website with a blog (or two): We like websites built on WordPress as it is an open-source platform and well supported. Word Press also offers many search engine-friendly plug-ins such as Yoast that will help your website get indexed and in Google’s good graces. Since WordPress began as a blogging platform, it’s easy to incorporate a blog – or two – to ensure your website has fresh, keyword rich content.
- A corporate culture that understands and embraces content creation: There is no shortage of content on the Internet. You’d be hard pressed to come up with a topic that isn’t covered by multiple blog posts, articles, videos, tweets, or infographics. Your B2B company must have subject matter experts willing and able to create original and memorable content on a consistent basis. Content is the fuel for Inbound Marketing. Without it, the engine won’t start.
- A content strategy that fits the sales funnel: Most middle market B2B firms don’t have endless resources to pour into content creation. A carefully crafted content strategy is critical, one that cleverly leverages content assets across multiple sectors and buyers. Consider “repurposing” content in multiple forms and develop content that connects with the buyer at each stage of his or her journey, including awareness and consideration.
- An enterprise-wide commitment to social media on LinkedIn: Even the best content will be rendered ineffective unless a B2B company is able to distribute it to potential sharers and/or buyers. Encourage your team to cultivate LinkedIn connections, with the goal of having every employee in the 500+ club. The majority of these connections should be with customers, potential customers, and/or referral sources.
- A clean, opt-in database: A big part of the power of marketing automation is its ability to leverage a company’s opt-in email database of customers, prospects, and referral sources. Without the ability to distribute dynamic emails segmented by buyer types, otherwise known as buyer personas, your Inbound Marketing program will sputter and stall. Please note that you don’t have to have a fancy CRM at this stage. A simple Excel spreadsheet will do just fine.
How can you tell if your B2B company is ready for HubSpot or any other marketing automation platform? If everything listed above has been successfully in place for at least six months, then hop in the cart as you’re about to embark on a fruitful journey. Then, and only then, will you be ready to take full advantage of a modern marketing tool that can revolutionize the way you do business. Need help developing an Inbound Marketing program or advice about marketing automation software? Contact the Marketri team!