Jan 8, 2014 11:07:00 PM
Posted by Lauren Totin
Getting started with inbound marketing is an exciting time marked by a flurry of activity. You’ve sourced out an agency, reviewed their rates, gotten your teams onboard and signed the dotted line. You’ve never been more ready to hit the ground running and start earning results!
Only now, you’re being asked to do a little paperwork.
The agency is asking to sit down with you and hash out customer personas, talk about CRM systems, chat about social guidelines and draw up a strategy for engagement.
Talk about a buzz kill. Businesses eager to get moving suddenly feel caught off guard when they find out that the initial stages of a campaign can be – to put it nicely - time consuming. Is this all really necessary?
Absolutely – and here’s why.
It’s easy to get distracted by the shiny objects in inbound marketing – the success stories of competitors, the viral content paying big dividends, the fun of seeing your content connect with an audience and bringing in new customers.
As you watch these things transpire, it’s easy to forget all the planning and effort that went in to making those more visible successes possible.
Think about it this way – you wouldn’t go on a week-long hiking trip without a compass, tent, backpack or food supply. Venturing out into the deep woods of marketing without some preparation could be equally treacherous; you can quickly find yourself lost or in trouble.
What can sometimes seem like tedious work in the outset of a campaign is actually the foundational cornerstones the rest of your effort will be built upon. Without them, your chances of success are seriously diminished, to say the least.
Start With a Solid Foundation.
Perhaps you’ve read stats like how a mere 34% of B2C businesses and 42% of B2B businesses classify their content marketing efforts as “effective”, and wondered why that is.
The answer, more often than not, is that little time if any was invested in creating a documented and comprehensive strategy. These businesses are firing arrows at a target in the dark, and they can never know if they’ve hit the mark or why they missed.
That’s where the initial outlay is invaluable. To see success, an agency needs to work with you to:
- Define goals, set benchmarks and determine the metrics that will help you determine if you’ve reached them
- Review your current marketing strategy. What’s worked? What’s failed? How have you been measuring?
- Develop well-defined customer personas. If you don’t know who you are selling to, how can you ever know how to meet their needs and answer their questions?
- Outline your level of commitment and set a sustainable budget. Where will your money be allocated, and how can you see the greatest returns from that spend?
- Evaluate current sales processes and understand the buying cycle of the average customer.
- Take a look at your social channels, drawing up guidelines for use and determining how your review process will look
- Put together an editorial calendar, pulling together the data on past successes, buyer personas, existing content gaps, available promotional channels
So while those tasks aren’t nearly as shiny as others, they’re the “in the weeds” work that makes all future success possible. If that all still seems a bit overwhelming, perhaps it will help to frame it this way:
Two hours of your involvement will contribute to 12 months of success.
Not so tedious now, is it? Giving just a few small hours to help lay the foundation for the future will be the difference maker – the thing that sets you apart from competitors who have rushed in, guns blazing and fingers crossed.
This planning and strategy will be an asset to you in the months that follow – one that will quickly prove itself well worth investing in.
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