I have been submersed and engaged with the inbound marketing community for about 4 years now. I've been both a customer of HubSpot and a partner agency. As an agency, I help spread "the good news" about the advantages inbound has over traditional marketing and how it can enhance those old school ways of advertising.
But up until now, when I watched a video of Marcus Sheridan's session that I missed at INBOUND 2015, I never realized that I hadn't been thinking about the "why" of inbound marketing.
Sure inbound marketing has proven itself to be more cost effective and get more traffic, leads and sales. We all want those things. But the why we do it, that takes a little bit of thought.
While I may not fully have my answer yet, I wanted to use this article to explore the direction I am leaning. As a former employee of companies that have used HubSpot, I believed in inbound because it would ultimately make things run smoother, leaner, and save the organization money. These are all things management loves to salivate over.
But going back to that former employee mindset, I also realized I was looking for a more accepting culture. A culture that embraces change, nurtures new ideas and helps the company and its employees become better and healthier.
Unfortunately, I can't say I've ever had a job that truly embraces forward progress at this level across all departments, which may be why I chose to become an agency owner and take that responsibility on myself (call me crazy).
If you're reading this as an employee of a company who has created an environment or situation like what I'm describing, you may be nodding your head in agreement and pondering your next move in life.
If you're reading this as a member of the management or executive team, I would recommend you take a step back and ask yourself, "Is our company forward thinking and always changing to stay in the game?". If you can't answer that, it might be time to survey your employees and get their perspective (assuming they are brave enough to answer you honestly, that is).
What does this have to do with Inbound Marketing?
So glad you asked.
Having the right culture is a requirement for getting 100% buy-in from your organization to adopt inbound marketing. Inbound requires not just marketing, but everyone in the company to have a full understanding of what it is, how it benefits the company and each person individually and why the company is doing it.
Why Inbound Marketing Fails
Before I jump into the keys that make inbound work as a culture, I want to share the top reasons Marcus Sheridan presented that can cause inbound marketing to fail inside a company who is trying to make it work:
1.) Lack of Management Buy-In: Inbound is a top down approach. That means everyone, from the CEO to the janitor, needs to have a complete understanding of it
2.) Lack of Employee Buy-In: Just because management may be onboard doesn't mean it's an instant success. Your colleagues need to know what their roles are and how it affects them as well.
3.) Lack of Content: If you have buy-in from the company, sourcing valuable content and making everyone on the team a content creator should come much easier. Without buy-in, there can be a content drought.
4.) Too Many Silos: If you sales and marketing departments are always at war and never on good speaking terms, they are effectively fencing themselves off from clear communication that is necessary to learn how inbound marketing can truly provide value to prospects, leads and customers.
5.) Strategy: Without a plan, things are either getting done for no reason or not getting done at all. How dreadful!
6.) Lack of Tools: Without the proper toolset to enable your sales and marketing teams, how can you show proper ROI?
So if you're an inbound marketer and finding it difficult to get cooperation from co-workers or management, or just don't feel like you aren't able to produce the right results by yourself, don't worry. You aren't alone.
The 9 Keys of Making Inbound a Culture and Getting Buy-In
1.) What is Inbound (and HubSpot)?
People who don't have any idea what inbound marketing or HubSpot is will probably have this "deer in headlights" look if you, the inspired and motivated inbound marketer, try to give them the 15 minute "elevator pitch" about it. You need to unbox your enthusiasm and find a way to clearly communicate the methodology and software to someone who is new to them.
It's easy to lose what you're trying to communicate in translation if it's foreign to someone else, so remember that your words do matter.
2.) Start with "WHY"
If you go to any one of your team members or sales staff and ask them "why are we doing inbound for you personally, not for the organization", can they answer that? Do they understand how and why it affects them? If they can't, you need to address it.
3.) The Inbound Workshop (and ongoing training)
According to Marcus, this is a major piece of the pie that a lot of companies miss. It is critical that your content team, marketing team, sales team and anyone else who is involved in the inbound process is present for an annual or bi-annual group workshop that addresses the how, the what, the why and the impact inbound marketing has on the company and each individual.
4.) The Content Manager (who owns it?)
It's important to know who owns the inbound initiative. A company needs a single point person for organizing and lead the charge, be it a content manager, inbound marketing manager, or whatever the title is. Without this person, everyone is doing their own thing, producing their own content, with no idea who to report to or where the strategy, goals or direction is coming from. Make sure someone owns it!
5.) Insourcing Your Content (using engaged employees)
Nothing against outsourcing work to freelancers, virtual assistants or other agencies, but regardless if the inbound marketing manager is an in-house position or an outside consultant, the majority (or all) of your subject matter experts and knowledge that can be tapped to best provide value to your leads and customers in your inbound strategy is going to come from the employees that know it best.
6.) It's all about Sales (not Marketing)
While the term "inbound marketing" has marketing right in the name, and HubSpot is marketed as a "marketing automation" tool, marketing is really only participating more in the overall sales process. The long term goals of using HubSpot and inbound are getting more sales. Make sure your sales team is well educated and knows what their role is in helping marketing make it easier to nurture qualified leads for them.
7.) Make it Required (like Payroll)
A company is required to pay its employees. The paycheck has to be as reliable as the sun coming up each morning. You just know that it's going to come. It's imperative to the success of an inbound strategy that all those who are producing content and participating in the different aspects if inbound to reliably produce on time, even if that means putting it in front of other important work. Without the consistent flow of content, the inbound model will start to hit bumps in the road.
8.) Master the Tool (to show ROI)
Some companies require all inbound employees to be certified through HubSpot Academy. Others require that content creation is a role for all employees and new hires and made known in the job description. Everyone involved should be beyond familiar with the tools and processes to ensure a smooth ride.
9.) The CEO Really... Really... Cares
Going back to the top down buy-in approach, inbound works great when everyone, including the CEO, is aware of what's going on and is involved in meetings and progress updates. Even if they aren't a content contributor, an engaged C-Suite is vital to the success of an inbound strategy.
If you're struggling to convince others in your organization that inbound marketing is a route that will ultimately provide signifcant ROI if done correctly, know that you are not dealing with this alone.
I also want to throw a big shout out and thank you to Marcus Sheridan from The Sales Lion for being so awesome (applaud). If you'd like to watch the presentation that this article references, watch it here or watch below: