Studies show that companies with a marketing plan in place are more likely to be successful in their marketing efforts. A solid marketing plan will help you generate leads, build awareness with your target audience, develop relationships with your customers, and ultimately boost profitability.
An inbound marketing strategy, in particular, is a proven marketing methodology for the digital age and is a modern-day approach designed to help you develop qualified leads for your sales team. Here are some tips to help you develop an inbound marketing strategy.
Perform A Situation Analysis
When developing a marketing plan, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is whether an inbound marketing strategy is right for your company. To do this, you’ll want to perform a situation analysis or an assessment of the current situation.
Inside current sales figures, key products or services, whom you sell to, and what makes you unique should all be examined.
Taking a few minutes to work through these questions will also help you determine the state of your business and your perspective as a business owner, as well as whether inbound marketing is right for your company.
- Do your products or services require a level of education before a purchase is made?
- Do you have a sales cycle that is longer than just a few minutes?
- Do your prospects spend time researching your industry and businesses like yours before making a purchase?
- Do your prospects spend time on other industry sites, or association and trade sponsored sites?
- Are your salespeople telling you that they are having difficulty connecting with prospects?
- Are your competitors’ websites ranking higher than yours in Google, Yahoo and Bing?
- Are your customers saying to you, “I didn’t know you had that service or product?”
- Are you finding that traditional advertising like print, trade shows, yellow pages, and direct mail are showing diminishing returns?
- Are your prospects spending time on social media outlets like LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups?
- Is the price of your average order above $500?
- Do you want a steady stream of leads over a period of time?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, then inbound marketing most definitely is a good fit for your business. If you answered no to several of these questions, that does not mean an inbound marketing strategy won’t work for you. It simply means you may need to take a second look at the questions a little more deeply since it can be easy to answer a question based on how you think a strategy is working rather than basing your answers on data.
Define Your Target Market
This is a breakdown of the buyers most likely interested in your product or service. Ask yourself, “What are their needs and how does your product or service meet those needs?”
Include details on demographics, psychographics, etc. One effective tool you can use is the buyer persona. As we outlined above, the buyer persona is your ideal customer. To develop your buyer persona, try to answer these questions:
- Who is your ideal customer? What is the person’s background, job, career path, demographic, age, income, location and family status? What company does the person work for, what is that company’s size and what is the employee’s job in the company?
- What are your ideal customer’s goals - primary and secondary? What are some challenges the person faces, and how can you help your persona achieve his or her goals?
- Where does this person hang out online? What type of online content is used to educate your buyer persona? Does this person find information on blogs, eBooks, white papers, social media, etc.?
- What drives your buyer persona? What frustrates your buyer persona? What are some common objections that may prevent your buyer persona from buying your product or service?
- How can you help your buyer persona? How would you describe your solution to that person?
Perform A SWOT Analysis
Different from your situation analysis, this type of analysis focuses more specifically on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). Having a firm understanding of this information can provide you with a better direction for positioning your company and knowing which opportunities you are in a strong position to leverage. Check out this sample SWOT analysis.
An important component of your inbound marketing campaign is goal setting. Why is goal setting important to inbound marketing? Setting inbound marketing goals helps you focus your inbound marketing efforts, offers clear guidance for your content, aligns all of your teams (marketing, sales, services, etc.), and helps you measure the success of your goals.
To set your goals, assess your current content marketing to determine whether you are reaching your target audience, are converting your audience into qualified leads, are able to close leads in a timely manner, are growing as a company and whether you are spending too much time and getting too little in return.
Then, determine where you want to be. Look at criteria such as the average customer’s lifetime value, your average order value, what percentage of leads become paying customers and what percentage of people you attract to your website that then become leads.
This information will help you set achievable goals. Don’t forget to use the SMART acronym … all objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. You can use this free SMART template to help you develop your goals.
Put Into Place Supporting Strategies
It’s important to stay in tune with customer buying habits and marketing trends so that you have the insights necessary to put the right strategies into place. This will better help you understand your audience and which opportunities will put you in the best position and which ones are best for reaching that audience.
Remember, as you monitor and analyze the results of your strategies, your plan should adjust accordingly. Keep track of your visions and as your business evolves, so should your plan and the strategies you have put into place.
Develop A Marketing Budget
The strategies and tactics supporting your objectives will typically have a cost associated with them. Many people ask what their marketing budget should be. The answer is far more complex than a single number, but in general, business owners should allocate an average of 5-10% of their total revenue to marketing.
Our article, What Should My Marketing Budget Be?, helps guide you in determining how much you need to spend and how to get the greatest value from your marketing budget.
Having a budget in place that coincides with your SMART objectives will help ensure that you have everything you need to determine the ROI for each effort.