A Successful Shift from an Outbound to an Inbound Marketing Strategy at NAWSP

A Successful Shift from an Outbound to an Inbound Marketing Strategy at NAWSP


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There’s a powerful analogy used to describe the difference between an outbound and an inbound marketing strategy. An outbound strategy is like chasing or hunting for leads, while an inbound strategy is like attracting or luring leads to you.

Although both marketing strategies have their merits and their limitations, my guest in this episode of the Modern Marketing Engine podcast, found great success for her organization when she shifted from an outbound to an inbound marketing strategy.

Cynthia Barnes, Founder and CEO of National Association Women Sales Professionals (NAWSP) is a repeat guest here on my podcast. Cynthia is a LinkedIn® Top Sales Influencer, highly sought-after keynote speaker, and Champion for Women in Sales. She’s known for motivating others to feel confident, empowered, and brave. She founded the National Association of Women Sales Professionals (NAWSP) with one simple mission: to help women in sales reach the Top 1% and end gender inequality in sales.

Women from around the globe have joined together to create a community of 15,000+ women in sales. Banding together for the support and professional development that only other women can provide, they want to level the playing field. They want to have conversations otherwise considered taboo and want to hold leaders accountable and ask the hard questions.

Listen to this episode to learn how Cynthia was able to grow NAWSP’s membership to more than 15,000 with a simple but well-thought-of inbound marketing strategy.

A successful shift from #Outbound to #InboundMarketing allowed @cynthiambarnes to grow her organization exponentially. Listen to her story in this episode of the @MMEnginepodcast with @bernieborges. Click To Tweet

The story of NAWSP

Cynthia recalls how a Facebook meme inspired her to start NAWSP. The meme said: “The true test of whether you are successful in life is not based on how well you do. It’s based on how many others you helped do well.”

She realized she had been in the top 1% for many years and wondered how many women she could help reach that top 1% in sales. Women in sales have unique challenges that men don’t have, but also have innate strengths that they can tap into to get to that top 1% faster.

Cynthia explains that women are often held back by the imposter syndrome or their inner critic and don’t know how to express themselves in the right way. NAWSP teaches women how to tap into their strengths such as relationship building and time management to overcome those challenges.

And because 89% of sales leaders are male, when a woman wants to reach the top 1%, it benefits her to have a male sponsor. So, NAWSP has men who serve as allies, sponsors and mentors who help women in sales ascend the corporate ladder in their organizations.

NAWSP’s Inbound Marketing Strategy

At launch in 2016, NAWSP didn’t have a defined marketing strategy. In Cynthia’s words, it was a “cluster and haphazard at best,” doing Meet-ups and LinkedIn® groups. But when they started identifying the demographics and psychographics of their ideal member, things began to change. 

There’s a marketing formula that NAWSP began to apply: M x M = R. That is:

Message X Media = Result

  • The first M is the message. What do you say to your target market to get them to stop scrolling?
  • The second M is the media. Where do you place your message once it’s refined? Social media, radio, or do you consider the impact of billboard advertising?
  • Result. In 2016, NAWSP didn’t have a clearly defined message nor a media platform to place that message, so their results were terrible.

Once they identified how their ideal member thinks, her goals, her values, and her objections to the sale, they were able to create the right marketing message and found she was most likely to engage with them on LinkedIn® and their results skyrocketed.

Do you know the #marketing formula Message X Media = Result? Learn more about how this #InboundMarketing strategy can help you grow your business in this episode of the @MMEnginepodcast with @bernieborges. Click To Tweet

In the early days, the focus was an outbound strategy, chasing potential members. But then they shifted their focus to attract members to what they had to offer.

The current attraction content strategy includes blogs, webinars, events, social selling and the NAWSP community. They provide women with content that helps them become part of that top 1% in B2B sales organizations that are usually male-dominated. And once they have that, they want to be part of the community.

NAWSP conducts polls about every 90 days to learn what their members want to achieve from the organization and to learn from a community of peers. This continuous conversation with the community, allows the organization to constantly nurture them with the content they want and need to reach their goals.

An Inbound Marketing Success Story 

A marketing strategy that NAWSP uses is to take one piece of content and repurpose it many times.

For example, they created a webinar for their members to uplevel their skills and knowledge and at the same time used the webinar to attract sponsors interested in hiring women. According to Cynthia, their webinar sponsors see a 64% increase in women in sales hires, thus reaching their goals.

NAWSP only partners with companies with strong women in sales initiatives that seek to attract, hire, develop and retain female sellers.

The success of NASWP lies in their ability to attract members with the right inbound marketing strategy but also in retaining them through initiatives like the NAWSP Tribe, an online community where women in sales can bring their challenges, celebrate their successes and discuss what it is like to be women in sales.

Listen to this episode to learn more about the NAWSP Tribe and how to grow your organization’s women in sales marketing strategy.

Featured on This Episode

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:04]  What is NAWSP
  • [2:57]  The inspiration for starting NAWSP
  • [4:47] The unique challenges that women in sales face
  • [5:35] The marketing strategy at launch vs. today
  • [10:50]  NAWSP’s two member types 
  • [11:31] The role of men in NAWSP
  • [13:22] A success story with sponsors
  • [15:59] Member’s ideas and the challenge of focusing on the mission
  • [17:21] NAWSP Tribes
  • [18:38] The vision of NAWSP in 2020

Resources & People Mentioned

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