When our two boys were in grade school, my wife and I decided we wanted them to learn how to ski. Our logic was based on the premise that early and frequent training would get them to a level of proficiency that allowed them to really enjoy the sport.
So, one Saturday morning we loaded the kids into the car and headed off to a nearby ski shop to purchase the necessary equipment. Not more than five feet into the store we were met by one of the sales staff and he asked us the purpose of our visit. When we told him of our plan to get an early start on skiing skills development for the little guys, he asked us if we had taken the "family ski test".
Me: "what's the family ski test?" The sales person: "How much cash do you have with you?"
Me: "$120." The sales person: "Take the cash out of your wallet, hand it to me and I'm going to light it on fire. If you can watch that money burn and you don't flinch, you're ready for family skiing!"
Now, I'm not saying that you need to watch your money burn in order to determine whether you're ready for inbound marketing or not, but here are five proven reasons you should absolutely not take it on.
1. Your due diligence is lacking. In order to properly assess the potential fit and function of inbound marketing as part of your organizational strategy, you have to take a hard look at your goals and objectives. You have to look at what you're currently doing to drive sales and honestly assess whether it's working or not. You have to look at all the options available to you and discover which fit best in light of your objectives. The due diligence process takes time but without it the solid foundation that inbound marketing should be built on won't exist.
2. Your business culture doesn't embrace it. Regardless of how you would support inbound marketing at your company - outsourcing or insourcing it or a combination of these two - your culture needs to understand the changes inbound marketing brings. It's not a spectator sport. Directly or indirectly, personnel throughout your company will play a critical role in the success inbound marketing has. Just like due diligence forms a solid foundation for strategy, the development of cultural awareness and understanding of how inbound works provides the foundation for acceptance.
3. The "until principle" is missing. Let's look at the family skiing example above for reference. If we had paid a lot of money for equipment, travel, accomodations, lessons - and then stopped trying after the first, second or third attempt, we would have failed to achieve lasting proficiency. We would not have seen positive results. Because we were committed to seeing things through until results were achieved, we found success. If the attitude and mindset of "until" is not present, put the checkbook away and move on to something else.
4. Your budget isn't sufficient enough to achieve the results you expect. This directly connects with reason #1 above. A big part of the initial assessment is to clearly define the results necessary to justify the investment. If you don't have total clarity on what needs to happen from your deployment of an inbound marketing plan, you won't be able to build a budget that delivers the results.
5. You aren't mentally prepared for, or unwilling to do, the work necessary to achieve success. The successful practice of inbound marketing is not plug and play. It takes planning, execution and measurement - in a perpetual loop of arduous activity - to get results. This is significantly different from #3 above. The "until principle" is a mindset - that mindset plus hard work will deliver results.
If you are heading into the New Year struggling with the effectiveness of your marketing program, you should take five minutes and do the mini-Inbound Marketing Assessment. You can find it right below. It just might help you identify some gaps so you can address them as you do your planning.