If you’re not getting traction with your inbound marketing maybe it's time to take a long hard look at your company culture. In our experience, when results are below expectations it’s rarely down to a weak strategy or poor execution of the relevant tactics but rather a failure to develop an inbound culture. Here are 3 inbound "culture killers" that could be derailing your efforts.
1. Silo thinking
One of the biggest inbound culture killers we see is silo thinking: the idea that results are all down to the marketing department or even worse, the inbound agency partner.
As I pointed out in a recent blog post on the delight stage of inbound, inbound marketing is a team effort. That means you have to stop thinking in silos and get everyone on board with the new approach if you want to see the best results.
At its core, inbound is more than a methodology. It’s a philosophy and a set of values rooted in a commitment to providing a remarkable experience at each and every stage of the buyer's journey - answering your prospects' and customers' questions, solving their problems and helping them achieve their goals. It has to be hardwired into the way you do things right from the very first contact through to closing the deal and beyond. In that sense, it’s everyone’s responsibility – and by everyone I mean the C-suite, marketing, sales, IT, finance, customer service and after-sales support.
You’re never going to see the full benefits of going inbound unless everyone in your company is doing their bit to ensure that every single interaction your prospects and customers have with you builds trust, makes them feel comfortable about doing business with you and makes their lives better. Unfortunately, the reality is often very different.
Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
- Marketing and sales are constantly at loggerheads.
- The sales team have an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality and refuse to change the way they've always done things.
- The IT department take weeks to get new content uploaded to the website or create landing pages and forms.
- The customer service team provide poor after-sales support, resulting in disgruntled customers and negative word of mouth.
- Getting blog content or FAQs out of subject matter experts is like pulling teeth.
- The C-suite doesn’t take the lead in modelling and reinforcing desirable behaviours.
It's all too easy for a lack of buy-in to completely derail your inbound marketing programme. Which is one of the reasons why we take time at the beginning of every new client engagement to get all the key stakeholders round the table to explain how inbound is different from the way they’re used to doing things and make sure that everyone understands the strategy and is committed to playing their part in ensuring successful execution.
Short-term thinking often manifests itself as a demand for quick fixes and instant results which represent the complete opposite of the inbound approach.
The fact is, like all good wines, inbound campaigns take time to mature.
First you need the right strategy. That means investing time in understanding your ideal customers, capturing their pain points, challenges, hopes, fears and goals in detailed personas, mapping their unique buyer’s journey and all the content they require at each stage. It means planning out your messaging, content, social media and other promotional activities and deciding on the right mix of tactics for each of your audiences.
Next you have to build your inbound engine: creating remarkable content, building landing pages, web forms, email nurturing sequences and workflows among other things. No matter how much research you’ve done or how meticulous your planning you won’t get everything right first time and may need to pivot several times until you hit on a winning formula. You’ll have to measure, test and optimise everything. Like painting the Forth Bridge an inbound marketer’s work is never done!
Even when your inbound campaign is firing on all cylinders it may still take months for leads to move through your funnel to the point of sales engagement. Yes, those leads will be easier and faster to close but you’ll still need to patiently work at attracting, educating and nurturing them.
All of which means you may not begin to see results for at least 6 or 8 months or a positive return on your investment until year 2. In companies where short-term thinking is the norm the temptation to take shortcuts or bail too soon is often too hard to resist. Instead, you need to cultivate persistence, understand that it’s a journey and be committed for the long haul if you are going to see your inbound marketing programme come to fruition.
"There are no shortcuts to any place worth going" - Beverly Sills
3. Risk Aversion
Inbound marketing only really works if you’re willing to try out new things instead of just doing things the way you’ve always done them. That may mean experimenting with different types of content, introducing new messaging and tactics, radically changing the way you do sales, adopting different tools and technology or even allowing your staff to contribute to the company blog or become brand ambassadors on social media.
It will certainly mean accepting that not everything will be perfect, being open to new ideas and willing to engage in authentic and at times, uncomfortable, discussions involving your whole team.
The bottom line: your corporate culture will have to fundamentally change to support inbound. It will be challenging and may even feel scary at times. But the good news is that it will be worth it in the long run.