Anyone who knows Weidert Group knows we “drink our own Kool-Aid” when it comes to inbound marketing and sales. That means we get a ton of lead conversions every month, which lead to conversations every week with prospects who, inevitably, ask:
“How do I know if an inbound strategy is right for my business?”
It’s a great question, and the right question to be asked by anyone thinking about implementing inbound for their business. From our perspective, we’ve learned that there’s also a lot of implied meaning behind the question. Here’s some of what (we think!) people really mean when they ask that question:
- Will this approach really generate quality prospects?
- What’s the anticipated ROI? Can you guarantee it?
- How quickly can I expect this to payback on our investment?
- My industry is very traditional. Why should I believe there are progressive buyer behaviors taking place in my industry?
- If it’s such a good idea why aren’t my competitors already doing it?
- Can you promise me I won’t get fired for trying this?
In the past, we might have tried to take on some of these implied questions directly…which is tough since they usually weren’t directly asked. Instead, we’ve learned it can be much more productive to ask surrogates for the tough questions, and often lead people to their own honest answers to the tough questions.
1. Do your customers make highly considered purchases that require lots of research and due diligence?
If they do, that means proactively answering their questions with authentic, valuable, relevant content will make you visible at the earliest possible time – as they’re beginning their due diligence around the challenge they face. Which gives you the best odds of making it on their short list by being at the front of their learning process.
2. Are you willing and able to be transparent and honest about your business, both the things you do really well, and the things that aren’t strengths?
The first requirement here is understanding what you do well, and having the confidence to rely on those things as powerful attraction and differentiation tools with prospects. The second is the possibility of building trust by being open and honest about those things you don’t do well, using them as a way to qualify who you’re best suited to serve. That kind of admission can do wonders for building credibility and trust, by showing you’re comfortable being completely honest about your place in the world –warts and all.
3. Are you willing, as a company leader, to commit to a course that will require some cultural changes that may be difficult, even painful?
Becoming an effective inbound practitioner does lead to cultural changes in most businesses, from the top down. We warn new clients from the start that inbound only succeeds with a sincere commitment, and it’s not uncommon for some on the team to say “Nope, that’s not for me.” Change is hard, and it takes resolve and determination to make it stick.
4. Do you have a team with the energy and intelligence to pursue a new direction – one that will force them to learn new skills and take on new responsibilities?
The most successful inbound implementations usually have an “all hands on deck” mentality that can be energizing, but is also a burden. Convincing people that the traditional approaches aren’t working any more is a leadership responsibility, inspiring people to lean forward, embrace the future, and become part of the solution.
5. Does your business truly enjoy some competitive advantages that can be leveraged by showing and telling more people through great content?
Inbound requires transparency, and transparency only works if what the world can now learn about you and from you is valuable and relevant to their needs and challenges, and is better than their alternatives. If you can’t make a case for being better at something that matters, work on that before you jump into inbound.
6. Are traditional business development methods generating the quantity or quality of leads needed to satisfy your growth goals?
If you know you’re not getting what you need using traditional methods, just working harder won’t change your results. Analyzing what’s possible with inbound is part of the discovery process, and should always be at the front end of a commitment to inbound.
7. Is the lifetime value of a customer significant enough to justify major investment in attracting new ones?
To do an ROI analysis around inbound you need to understand the lifetime value of new customers. Most businesses are surprised when they consider the repeat business and upsell opportunities a long-time customer represents, and when they correctly consider the value, investing appropriately makes much more sense.
8. Do you have the patience and resolve to pursue a direction that isn’t an instantaneous boost to your business?
We’ve saved the most important question for the end. Inbound is not something you try for 3 months and see if it works. Instead, it’s something you consider carefully, deeply, and with rigorous due diligence. And then when you decide it makes complete sense for your business, commit completely and dedicate your team to making it work. With commitment comes the kind of results that can change the course of your business. Without commitment, you’re just wasting your time and money.
I hope these questions give you something to think about. And if you need help getting to the right answers, we’re happy to jump into a discussion whenever we’re needed.
Topics: Inbound Marketing
With 18+ years in senior management roles at Fortune 500® and medium-sized companies, Greg has deep marketing and sales experience with CPGs and manufacturing. He leads strategic initiatives with clients and is involved in developing client inbound marketing plans. Greg holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. in Economics from Lawrence University.