Two short stories for those contemplating inbound marketing efforts for their business:
First, Forget The Joneses – Think Customer Experience
Last week I visited a small town auto repair shop that had bought way more inbound marketing than they will ever need. They even had a mobile app built so that patrons can download it to their smart phones using the QR code plastered on the wall. There’s hardly anything in the app – you can browse to their Facebook page, check their hours of operation, click a button to call them and see some pics of the mechanics. Yay. This makes me want to buy a new carburetor. (Really?) It’s silly to try and keep up with the Joneses! Why? Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going improve your customer’s experience one bit, or help you grow your business or be a wise investment for your future.
Consider The Real Cost Of The “Cheap Solution”
Also last week, a general contractor told me this story: Rico (not his real name) was asked to bid on a house building project. He provided a detailed proposal with an estimated total of 720K. Meanwhile, a sly competitor bid 600K for the same job. The customer accepted the lower bid, but the proposal was not detailed enough, which led to many “gotchas” during construction of their new home. The final cost for the project? 920K. Hasty decisions are often followed by expensive lessons: cheaper is not always better. Understand the true costs, the benefits of any business investment, especially inbound marketing.
All Inbound Marketing Not Created Equal
As sellers and marketers, we’ve got to remember that a lot of shrink-wrapped, slapdash inbound marketing programs have been sold to people who really didn’t understand what they were getting into. There’s also a lot of unethical people out there playing fast and loose with the dreams and naivety of people who are simply trying to do what’s best for their businesses. A major purchase that holds as much potential for good or bad results (as an inbound marketing campaign does) needs to be much more carefully scrutinized before spending any money. As a bare minimum, before you sign up for yet another nebulous new thing, you and your marketing team should establish some key answers you can both agree on.
Before You Buy Into Inbound Marketing:
- Why is this particular marketing effort important to my business?
- How is it going to illicit the desired response from my buyers?
- What is the persona of the individual(s) being marketed to?
- What is the corporate culture we’re marketing to?
- Is there a crucial time element involved in the buyer’s decision?
- Are there cultural elements that could influence their decision?
- What’s the use case for the product or service?
- What’s the amount of risk being taken by the buyer?
- What are the goals of the marketing campaign?
- What’s the success criteria for the campaign?
- How do we change and adjust the program if necessary?
She Blinded Me With Science
As Mark Twain is quoted as saying: There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics. Some marketeers start throwing numbers around and unfortunately end up convincing people a little too quickly that they’ve got the “magic sauce.” The fact is that all marketing is an experiment. Why? Because no one can accurately predict human behavior enough to guarantee a predictable response in every situation. Good marketing involves extensive research, experimentation and in some cases, a great deal of adjustment. One size does not fit all.
Show Me The Money
The goal of most marketing is simple. As Homlish puts it: sell more stuff, make more money, do it with less expense. Inbound marketing, like any other business investment needs to be thoroughly understood, carefully mapped out and constantly monitored and optimized in order to be valuable. There are few guarantees in life, and all business investments involve risk, but just because inbound marketing is more “squishy” than say, a new delivery truck, that doesn’t mean we should throw out all common sense and reason. Avoid costly lessons and insist on proof, a strong business case or at least some very sound reasoning before making your next inbound marketing decision.