Change doesn’t come easily to most of us. Companies, individuals and even entire industries don’t easily change their practices, policies and worldview – even in the face of irrefutable evidence that customers are unhappy. See: airlines, banks, auto dealers, cell phone carriers, real estate brokers, mortgage brokers.
Example: Sir Martin Sorrell helped build a global empire of ad agencies. Now he suggests that governments use your tax money to preserve the outmoded system that made him a billionaire. Holding on to yesterday never works, Sir Martin.
Inbound marketing is based on the self-evident truth that you should make it easy for the right customers to find you, rather than simply searching for the customers amongst the masses. Most people I work with recognize this from their own buying habits. If you agree with the concept, but haven’t turned it into action, is it because change scares you?
Stasis should scare you more.
Here are some clues that you need real change, and why embracing inbound marketing may be part of the answer.
1. Business has stagnated – or gotten incrementally worse – for a long time
Is it the economy? Or has the world simply changed? If your prospects always have an objection that you just can’t overcome, maybe you’ve got bigger problem than you thought. You either have the wrong products, the wrong pricing, or the wrong customers.
Inbound marketing doesn’t hold the untenable promise of making you an overnight sensation. It’s designed to build businesses in an orderly, incremental way, by attracting the right customers, rather than large numbers of unqualified prospects. It helps build businesses in the manner of compounded interest rather than winning the lotto.
2. Customers’ complaints are running you ragged
Do customers have unrealistic expectations? Are you making unrealistic claims? Or is it some combination? Chances are, you need to find a value proposition that’s honest and that you can support.
Inbound marketing helps you understand your value proposition because you deal with it every day. Customers will know much more about you –through your vast web presence – before they buy. Through their feedback, you’ll know much more about their needs and expectations. Transparency can be a good thing.
3. Employees are unhappy
Employees are happy when they can make customers happy. If they are systematically unable to do so, maybe it’s because your system no longer works the way it once did.
Inbound marketing, especially with social media, can give your employees a voice. It gives them more visibility and responsibility. Giving your employees a higher profile may be scary, but they will find it rewarding. Good policies and practices can assure quality and develop your employees’ talent.
4. Marketing doesn’t seem to work any more
Are your marketing practices rooted in old assumptions about media and messages? Does it rely on interruption and cleverness, rather than engagement, honesty and value? Does it require huge expenditures that feel like gambles more than investments?
Inbound marketing lets you try a lot of approaches without spending a lot of money. In a world of change, inbound marketing has incredible flexibility built in. Plus – it takes the mystery out of analytics. It’s far easier to see what’s working and what’s not – for you and your customers.
5. Your story isn’t straight
When people ask questions about your business, is it hard to give a concise, compelling answer? Can everyone on your team answer in ways that resonate and don’t conflict?
Inbound marketing centers your company story around your customers and their needs, rather than yourself. It helps your story satisfy like a suspenseful film noir that ties together every loose end. The customer becomes the hero. And that’s far more interesting to someone with money to spend.
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These are just clues that I’ve encountered. Surely I’ve missed a few. What are some that you’ve seen?