Getting inbound marketing to work for your business takes an ongoing commitment to executing its key elements consistently. What's often overlooked is the preparatory process before the initial commitment. To get the most out of your inbound marketing efforts in the fastest amount of time, you'll benefit from thinking through the following issues. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it should serve to provide the momentum to develop a solid plan.
1. Take stock of your current situation. What's happening in your business right now? What's working well? What's not working? What changes could you institute that would help growth? This exercise is best done outside the four walls of your business in order to provide the space needed to think objectively. Take your key employees and rent space for a half-day or full day and use flip charts and whiteboards to develop an accurate snapshot. There's no shortcut to this step so give it as much time and energy as needed to produce the current picture.
2. Define your vision of the business's future. What will revenue look like in 2013? How much will be generated from new clients, how much from existing clients? How big will your staff need to be? What new roles need to be filled and are your current people in the right roles? What changes will occur with your services or products?
3. Review current client success. Who are our best clients? Why do we consider them the best? What did they do to qualify as best? What did we do to develop them to be the best? What can we do with our other clients to move them into this category?
4. Define your prospecting and sales processes. Who are our best prospects? Why do we consider them the best prospects? How can we quickly test our assumptions? What are the functional titles of the decision makers at our prospects' companies? What are their pain points? Do we have accurate descriptions of prospect buying personas? What does our sales process look like? How do our clients buy?
5. Identify your competition. Who are we competing with? Directly and indirectly? What are our competitors doing that impacts our ability to compete? What are the competitive trends in our industry? How can we outmaneuver our competitors?
6. Clearly and meaningfully define your unique difference. What makes us different? Can our customers easily articulate the difference? Can our prospects quickly perceive the difference? This is a tough one - especially in highly competitive industries. Spend lots of time here because some of your best content comes from clearly answering this.
7. Think about your content. What should our content address? What questions do clients and prospects repeatedly ask? What keywords should we be pursuing? How will we know our content is successful? What types of content should we focus on?
8. Specify your process for measuring results. How will we measure success? What metrics should we use? How will we get those metrics? How often should we look at them? How long will it take to improve them?
9. Fully assess the resources you'll need. Should we outsource? How much should we outsource? What capabilities are needed? How much can our current staff handle? Which tools do we need? Can the tools be integrated?
10. Estimate a budget. What marketing activities are working for us? Where can we reallocate funds? What are the priority activities that will drive success? How does the projected cost square with new revenue potential?
What did you have to consider prior to getting into inbound marketing? What have you learned from your experience? Now that you know what you know, what would you do differently?
Share your thoughts - your input is valuable and appreciated!