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by David Houston David Houston on January 3, 2017

7 Must-Haves Before Your Company Starts Inbound Marketing

Thinking about getting started with inbound marketing? Be sure you have these key components in place first.

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Inbound marketing offers endless opportunities for businesses—but you won’t see a penny of ROI unless you’re prepared to make the commitment. The benefits of inbound are clear. In order to reap those benefits, there are seven key components your company needs to have.

Must-Have #1: Clearly Defined Goals

Something about inbound marketing attracted you. You knew that the inbound methodology sounded like a better way for your company to do marketing. But before you take another step, you first need to define your goals. Why do you want to start using inbound for your company? What do you need to accomplish by making this shift?

Setting smart goals is critical before you even think about specific strategies or tactics. Actually, your goals should be SMART; Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.  

By defining your goals, you can keep your inbound marketing strategy focused and effective while avoiding spending time on tasks that won’t help you reach your objectives.

Must-Have #2: Realistic Budget

There are two common mistakes companies make with this step: either they don’t have a marketing budget at all (or don’t know how much they spend on marketing), or their budget is too low.

If you don’t have a realistic budget  before starting inbound, you’ll face problems right out of the gate. The biggest one is a misalignment of expectations. If your goals are aggressive but your budget is too small, you won’t be able to meet your objectives—you’ll simply run out of resources.

On the flip side, if your budget is non-existent or you aren’t sure how much you currently spend on marketing, it will be much more difficult to create an estimate for spend and a benchmark for success.

Keep in mind that a budget is just an estimate. You’ll need to stay flexible and adaptable in order to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.

Must-Have #3: The Right Mindset

Help, don’t sell. Educate, don’t withhold information.

This is the mindset your company must adopt before you attempt any inbound marketing. Each tactic you carry out should be focused on helping your prospects solve their challenges and reach their goals. In order to accomplish that, you need to develop a helpful attitude that prioritizes education over the hard sell.

Don’t even think about starting inbound until you’ve made this shift in your approach to marketing. The idea of adding helpfulness and value to a prospect’s day is at the foundation of the entire inbound marketing methodology.   

Must-Have #4: Commitment to the Process

Inbound marketing is not for businesses that need instant gratification. It is not a quick fix for a low-selling product or an instantaneous Band-Aid for your company’s rapidly declining consumer base.

In other words, it takes time.

To be successful at inbound, you must have a firm commitment to the process, and understand that it will take time to build up momentum. Even if you start seeing results early, know that true ROI could take months or even years to emerge.

An inbound marketing strategy isn’t one and done. You can’t work hard upfront and then expect this machine to keep rolling indefinitely. Inbound strategies take constant upkeep and revision to stay relevant. That’s a big commitment, but it’s one you’ll need to make before you start inbound marketing for your company.

Must-Have #5: A Team That’s Fully Bought-In

You love the inbound methodology, but the rest of your sales and marketing team thinks it is a waste of time and money, and the leadership team doesn’t seem to understand it at all.

Without your whole team on board, you won’t be able to achieve the success you set out for. Beyond just marketing, inbound represents a shift in the way your business operates. Whether it’s the sales team learning to approach your buyer personas or your product development team contributing to content creation, everyone will be affected by the inbound mindset you’re hoping to adopt.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that inbound is only for marketers to understand. When you begin using the inbound methodology, it starts to transform your company as a whole. Be prepared for that shift by ensuring your whole team is bought in. 

Must-Have #6: Dedicated Marketing Partners

Even with a large internal marketing team, there will be tasks you won’t be able to execute on your own. Before your company starts inbound marketing, find agency partners that can help you create and carry out an effective inbound strategy.

The article “When Should You Outsource Your Digital Marketing?” has a list of the top three marketing activities you should outsource: SEO, visual content creation, and PPC/paid media advertising.  Why do these make the list? Because these are more technical, specialized marketing skills that internal teams most often lack.

By working with marketing partners, you get a higher return by hiring out the skills your team doesn’t have. Before you start inbound, decide which marketing agencies, design firms, or SEO agencies are going to help you reach your goals.

Must-Have #7: Connected Sales and Marketing Teams

If you know anything about the inbound marketing methodology, you know that one of the tenets is Close. And if your company is like most, closing is the job of the sales team.

The line is blurred between marketing and sales. If you’re the marketer who’s super excited about inbound, you must get aligned with your sales team in order to make this initiative successful.

Inbound is a different way of bringing in leads. The sales team needs to understand that, and they need to be prepared to adapt their selling techniques to align with this new system.

Honestly, it may take a while for the sales team to understand the new resources and tools that will be available to them when you start inbound marketing. But you can start forging that relationship now, and prepare everyone for what’s coming.

 

Learn more about how to get started with inbound; download the Beginner’s Guide to Inbound Marketing today. 

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David Houston

Written by David Houston

David’s 30 years of marketing experience bring valuable insight into every aspect of a company’s marketing approach. He naturally sees the bigger picture and has a strategic approach to marketing that is laser-focused on measurably growing his clients’ businesses.

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