As a CEO, your main job should be focusing on sales and strategy – period. While it’s important that you have a reasonable understanding of all the facets of your business, you shouldn’t and can’t be an expert in everything.
This doesn’t mean you hire out every position and then head out to play golf five days a week. It just means that your role should, as often as possible, focus on making higher-level decisions and staying ‘out of the weeds.’
Look at it this way. You may want to be in on the decision to hire a new executive in your organization, but you certainly aren’t going to be the one doing the new-hire paperwork. You depend on your HR Director to get your new-hires background and referenced checked and to complete all tasks necessary to ensure your organization remains compliant with HR laws.
The same goes for your organization’s inbound marketing. While it’s important that you are aware of the strategies behind, and the results of, your current marketing campaigns you should not be managing the day-to-day operations of that function.
Now the question becomes, can your current team of one or two marketers successfully complete all the necessary core components of inbound marketing, while still focusing on traditional marketing and company branding? If you are like most organizations we work with, the answer is probably no. This isn’t saying something negative about your marketing team or your business. It’s just a cold, hard fact. Inbound marketing takes a lot of work and most marketing teams just can’t reasonably be expected to get it done. To ensure your organization’s inbound marketing is a success, your marketing team must at a minimum, do the following;
- Develop a strategy. This strategy should be built around your buyer personas, their buyer’s journey, company goals, etc.
- Attract more quaIified visitors. You have your strategy now you need to get them to your site through; blogging, SEO, social media,
- Convert visitors into leads. Once they get to your site it’s time to separate the wheat from the chafe with an email lead nurturing campaign offering premium content i.e white papers, eBooks, webinars.
- Turn leads into customers. Once these leads move down the sales funnel it’s time to turn them into customers. Your sales and marketing team will need to work together to ensure you convert as many customers as possible.
- Create promoters from customers. A simple ‘thanks for your business’ is not going to turn a customer into a promoter. Finding ways to delight your customers after the sale is done through gifts, useful content, or stellar support.
- Measure and analyze. At the end of every campaign strategy your marketing team should be taking stock of everything that worked and everything that didn’t and compiling a report and action plan.
If your current team doesn’t have the time or training to do these tasks, what’s the alternative? For many, the decision is simple; outsourcing. If after consideration you find this is the right avenue for your organization there are questions you can ask to help ensure that you find an outsourced partner that is right for your organization.
1) Do they have the resources to do inbound marketing successfully?
We touched upon a few on the key components of inbound marketing above. It’s imperative that the company you choose is able to handle all the moving parts and pieces to be successful. Ask to see examples of their:
- Premium content creation – Ebooks, WhitePapers, webinars
- Blogs – not just there blogs, but work they’ve done for other companies
- Lead nurturing – what is their strategy? How many emails do the send and how often? Ask for examples of emails they have sent in the past.
- Social Media – Do they have a grip on all facets of Social media? If you’re a B2B, you want to pay special attention to their LinkedIn expertise.
- SEO – How do they choose keywords?
2) Can they develop and execute a successful inbound strategy?
Even if your potential outsourced partner has a grip on all of the components, they must also know how to develop and execute a successful strategy. You don’t want them to just send random emails or blog about different topics until your leads come. You want to have a process that can get you results so you can come back to it and build campaigns for future use. What should you look for in an inbound strategy? Check out our free Sample Gameplan and get insight into the strategy we use for every one of our clients.
3) What’s their track record?
When hiring an outsourced marketing company, it’s ok to ask for their credentials. This means talking to 2 or 3 of their past clients to better understand if they are satisfied with the marketing services being offered.
4) How often will you interact and who will you interact with?
Communication is necessary for any successful relationship. There isn’t a magic that is right for everyone, but the expectation of how often you communicate should be set up front so no one feels left in the dark. You should also find out who will be working on your account, and get to know them. Can you see their previous work? Are they a marketing veteran or new college graduate? Your marketing success depends on this person and you could be spending a lot of time together. As in any relationship, you need to get to know them before making a long-term commitment.
5) How Much Will It Cost?
With today’s unpredictable economy, companies are challenged to search for new and innovative ways to keep the momentum going while dealing with limited marketing budgets. When considering a marketing agency, remember you might be simply re-purposing a budget that was previously spent on outdated, ineffective advertising tactics. Or if this is your first step into marketing, an agency can typically offer more expertise for a fraction of the cost of a new in-house hire. Either way, once you’ve made the decision to deploy more effective marketing methods, such as inbound marketing, you should see a greater return on your investment. So before signing on the dotted line, take the time to understand the costs involved. Ask them how much time and money you are going to have to invest — and don’t forget about the return on that investment (ROI). Successful marketing companies will be able to clearly define a road map for how marketing campaign success will be measured, so clients can see the ROI for marketing dollars spent.
6) How Long Will It Take to See Results?
Quicker does not always equal better. Be wary of agencies that over-promise results because that normally means they will under deliver. Many companies that deploy new marketing campaigns, especially inbound tactics, see results in as little as three to four months. However, it can take up to six to 12 months to generate significant results. It takes time to do the proper keyword research, create educational content regularly, and develop a strong infrastructure. Not to mention, readers — who could be potential clients — need that time to move through the sales cycle. For example, once an organization starts creating content on a regular basis, it may take a few months to build up regular followers who come back for more, eventually becoming qualified leads. Too often business owners and management wear many hats. Marketing agencies offer valuable insights and skill sets and are equipped to handle important tasks you may not have time to do. In doing so, we want to empower you and your team to focus on your primary jobs. It’s a winning combination to not only grow your business but advance your industry presence.
Outsourcing your inbound marketing is not something that should be taken lightly. It’s important to take time to find a partner who understands and respects your business and has a track record of producing results. Do that and you will be rewarded with bottom-line growth.