If you get caught up in the blogosphere or read all of the marketing hype around inbound marketing, you may find yourself hard pressed to hear the reasonable voices of sanity. New companies have burst (OK-exploded) on to the scene, promoting all things inbound marketing. “GET FOUND!” they scream. Some seem to suggest that people need to take a back seat to technology. Actual sales people need not apply. If I get one more e-mail suggesting I read this blog or article and it says; “Powered by” whoever the flavor of the day is, I will just…
You know what I would like to see? I want to see “Powered by Jill” or “Hank” or “Bob.” I want to know that somewhere in the company that is trying to sell me their services, there is a person who has an interest in me the prospect, the customer. I don’t want to be a piece of meat going through their sausage maker, their high-tech analytical grinding machine that deems me worthy of an e-mail or call because I visited their site for the forth time, looked at a particular page for the second time, and triggered the machine that says, “Ken – you are worthy for engagement.”
OK – a bit of a rant. I actually dig the technology and respect the companies that play in the inbound marketing space. Heck – we do it too. What concerns me, and sent me down this rambling path, is that we lose sight of the fact, all too easily, that the middle exists. With both sides competing for your attention, you may miss the fact that you need both. Or, that one may simply not be right for you, your business or the industry you serve. As you go to the web to do your research, the pundits get divided like our political parties. Instead of Democrats and Republicans, we have the “Inbound marketing/cold calling is dead” camp vs. the “Cold calling is alive, let’s kill the technologist” camp. As we know, and as I always say, the truth is in the middle.
If your organization is primarily driven by outbound marketing and sales activities, you may still find success with inbound marketing. It has it place. What I caution about is making the switch and thinking that by adding technology and a new inbound marketing platform with all of its bells and whistles (including drip, integrated blog, e-mail, site visitors and so forth), that you can stop doing what works for you. Just as with social media, it is a tool to be tested and proven through trial and error rather than an untested replacement for what works.
I get it. The real attraction to inbound marketing is, “Heck- Its inbound!” It sounds wonderful to all of us. Imagine a world where you place your product or service in front of those who are looking for it. Its a place where you can create content that attracts buyers to your site to be educated by you and purchase from you. It really can’t get much better. Each day, 1000’s of businesses do just that. They utilize inbound marketing married to amazing inbound technologies and drive great success through inbound only. We are almost 100% inbound at VanillaSoft. Like other companies that find success with inbound, it is a match for us; the market is a fit and the manner in which people shop for services like ours works well with inbound. However, that may not be true for your particular business and industry.
For inbound marketing to work, you have to be able to attract an audience to your site, create compelling content, clearly articulate your value proposition and have actionable engaging pathways for your audience to follow. For some businesses, that task is manageable, appealing and a solid direction to explore. For many however, they simply are not in an industry that creates enough search volume to support inbound marketing as a stand-alone effort. Additionally, many businesses simply don’t have the in-house talent to create and deploy compelling content. The best software in the world can’t help you if you are missing the key ingredients to make inbound marketing work.
In summary, if you have a solid performing outbound selling effort underway that works for you, keep it. If you want to explore inbound marketing (which I support and think is wise) do so. However, do it with your eyes wide open. Do not sacrifice your current winning effort to try something that does not have a predictable outcome. Test and learn. Lastly, don’t get dazzled by the super cool, easy to deploy software. As good as it has become, it can’t change the dynamics of the industry you serve, increase the search volume for your product or service, or make you a master of content and an inbound guru. The truth is usually in the middle, so stay the course with what works best while researching other marketing avenues that may prove to be a nice enhancement.