Inbound Takes Time And Clients Want Leads Today—You Better Be Able To Deliver
Let me start by clarifying, I am in no way going back on my belief that inbound is how you should be marketing your business. I’m 100% ALL IN ON inbound. However, today’s marketing world is dramatically different than the world that birthed inbound marketing back in 2008 and 2009.
When inbound first burst on the scene the country was in the midst of the Great Recession. The idea of marketing based on the size of your brain instead of the size of your wallet made a lot of sense. It was smart and efficient.
Today businesses are spending and their spending on marketing. Today there are many more methodologies joining the ranks of inbound. Account based marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing, advocacy marketing and demand generation on its own is back in vogue.
Even worse, it’s confusing trying to decide what approach and what tactics are right for businesses. What results to expect, what technology to use and what tactics to consider. Companies are flailing around trying to decide how much to invest, what to do and trying to know what results to expect.
In my opinion, it’s the agency’s role to help companies figure it out and make sense of this complex situation. To do that, your agency is going to have to do and be great at more than inbound.
The New Stuff
There is a lot of it and there’s going to be more. Inbound marketing agency services are going to need to include attribution modeling, account based marketing, advocacy marketing, artificial intelligence and formless conversions, it’s either here or about to be here. If you start using these tactics you’ll be in a great position to help your clients do the same. If you can make it work for your agency, it will be easier to make it work for clients.
Start with one new service, test it on your agency and once it works, operationalize it for clients. I’ve seen a lot of agency owners get client gigs without knowing what they’re doing. I’ve heard agency owners stand up in front of a group and tell them they didn’t know what they were going to do with their big new client. Don’t make that mistake.
It’s harder to do anything for us than it is for clients. The agency market is hyper competitive. Everyone has great websites, everyone blogs, everyone had great content. If you can make these new tactics work for you, you can easily make them work for clients in far less competitive industries.
Look up demand generation on the web and you’ll find it’s the practice of building awareness. This sounds like outbound to me. Do you have experience doing outbound or demand generation? If all you did was build websites before you were an inbound agency, then I’d guess you don’t. But if you did advertising, direct mail, cold email campaigns, then you probably do.
Today’s demand generation isn’t your older brother’s banner ad campaigns. It takes more technical understanding, more coordination cross platform, it’s more omni channel because there are so many channels and it needs metrics.
No surprise here. The lines between marketing and sales are evaporating quickly. You're going to have to deliver real sales services. Sales process redesign, CRM implementation and configuration, sales team training, sales communications, lead scoring, content for sales and full funnel metrics analytics are all going to be requirements of most digital agencies. Inbound marketing agency owners can't be the only ones in the shop who can do this work. You'll need team members who have sales expertise, just like you have marekting team members with these specific skills.
Connecting The Dots
There’s a bigger picture here to keep your eyes on. I’ve always said the secret to getting results for clients is not in the tactics, sales or marketing. The secret is in the connection of the tactics and the strategy behind the tactics. One plus one equals three when you get all the appropriate marketing and sales tactics deployed and connected.
When client’s existing attitudes or their budgets prevent you from putting the right pieces in play and then prevent you from only connecting certain tactics is where you’ll see disappointing results. It won’t be your fault, especially if you recommended the correct program, but you’ll take the fall.
HINT: Look for clients who will let you and can pay for the right level of revenue generation programs.
How you work with clients, how you structure your engagement, how you get paid and who you hire is likely going to change over the next few years. You can either get ready and participate or get run over. Back in the day, agencies leaned on their creative. Today it’s about results. Tomorrow it’s going to be about revenue and then the end-to-end experience for prospects and customers. Are you equipped to deliver this type of service?
I’m not suggesting you need to do anything different today. But one of the first steps you can take is making sure your team is capable of delivering more than just inbound. Clients are going to be asking for it and in some cases, especially the most impatient clients, it might even be the right advice. Some of you might have already been doing outbound. In that case, start using some of the new outbound tactics. Again, your clients are going to be asking for it, so you better do it and be good at it.
Start Today Tip – Consider adding the quantitative aspect of inbound on top of the outbound tactics clients are asking about. One example, account based marketing. If you do it, make sure each aspect is trackable and measurable. At least this way you can report back to your clients illustrating whether it’s working or not. Outbound has always been historically difficult to measure, that’s definitely changing. Today everything is and should be measurable. Get your agency mind around that and you’ll be in a good spot to deal with change as it comes.
Agencies 2 Inbound – Helping You GO ALL IN ON Inbound!