Inbound Marketing 3 Things That Really Bug Me
WHERE I THINK INBOUND MARKETING SHOULD BE
I recently participated in a panel discussion at the Inbound Marketing Summit in New York. The panel was moderated by Forbes-rated #1 social media power influencer, Chris Brogan. One of the questions that Chris asked each panel participant was what are we surprised about the current state of inbound marketing considering that it’s been five years since inbound marketing launched as we know it today. One could argue the five year statement, but let’s focus on the big picture. The three things that surprise me and bug me most about the current state of inbound marketing are…
Lack of Understanding in the C Suite
One of the panel members was Laura Fitton, aka @Pistachio, a popular social media enthusiast and inbound marketing evangelist at HubSpot. In my response to this question I commented that even though HubSpot has 6,000 customers using their inbound marketing software, why don’t they have 60,000 customers? My opinion is that too many executives, starting with the CEO, still don’t understand the meaning and value of inbound marketing. Too many executives aren’t willing to admit they don’t understand it, and therefore resist the migration to inbound marketing. Their staff is handcuffed even if the marketing people get it. I am convinced that if more executives truly understood the value of:
- being found online by relevant members of their ecosystem (including prospects and other influencers)
- engaging them in authentic online conversations through blogs and social media comprised of great content
- empowering employees with the freedom to engage online because
- this is how buyers want to engage with sellers
The results of well executed inbound marketing produce tangible business value in any industry. If more executives world wide truly understood this, the demand for HubSpot’s software would be orders-of-magnitude more than it is at the time of this writing in the first quarter of 2012.
Inbound Marketing Lip Service
The next level down from this sort of denial is the business that decides to move toward inbound marketing, but the commitment is half-hearted. The shift to inbound marketing is a big mindset shift. And, it requires budget commitment too. Inbound marketing is not free. It can certainly be less costly than some forms of traditional (outbound) marketing. I certainly don’t advocate that a business flip a switch from outbound to inbound marketing overnight, or abandon successful outbound marketing campaigns altogether. The integration of outbound and inbound should be gradual, persistent and progressive over time. The commitment to inbound marketing should include people to create and monitor content, and budget to license systems and tools needed to maximize productivity and measure results daily, weekly and monthly.
Marketing is Not a Department
My biggest peeve about inbound marketing is the notion that many organizations still believe that marketing programs should only be implemented by the marketing department. We live in the digital age where all employees have the potential to leverage their digital footprint. Many employees are often subject matter experts in their respective niche. They should be inspired, encouraged and even required to contribute content that can be shared and found through online outposts including in Google search and social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and others. Businesses that have realized the importance of their employees as brand ambassadors and contributors to their inbound marketing strategy enjoy competitive advantage. Just imagine how much your content can spread online when employees share it through their social networking activities. This is more than a possibility. It is a strategic marketing weapon. This is also known as being a social business. It is where inbound marketing is headed. And, measuring results requires a data-driven mindset supported by data-driven staff and the tools to track and report the data.
Where is your organization in the context of these three inbound marketing stages? Are you a social business enjoying competitive advantage, leads, growth, high employee retention and generally celebrating good times? Or, is your organization still on the inbound marketing sidelines wondering if it’s for real? The full panel session video is below. You’ll surely find some of it entertaining.