A strong foundation is essential in many endeavors. Take the obvious example of a house. If your foundation is cracked or not level, you face all kinds of problems down the road. The only way to head off serious problems with your house is to undertake expensive and complicated repairs to the foundation.
Another way to express the concept of a strong foundation is to talk about fundamentals. Most superstars of sport have strong fundamentals that they build their mastery upon. Consider Michael Jordan, arguably the best basketball player of all time. Jordan had the reputation of being the hardest worker of any team he was on - always the first to show up for practice and the last to leave.
When Jordan was practicing alone in the gym, do you think he was working on those 360 dunks that everyone saw on Sportscenter? No, he was practicing his turnaround jump shot from the foul line extended. Hundreds of times. Day in and day out. His fundamentals were so sound that he routinely hit that same jump shot in the waning seconds of the NBA finals with 3 people all over him. He knew he was going to hit that shot because he did it before, hundreds of time.
Inbound marketing is much the same. If you have a strong marketing foundation, you will get great results. Whether you're starting an inbound marketing channel or optimizing your existing one, make sure you have these 6 inbound marketing fundamentals in place.
1. Determine your marketing focus
In my opinion, the first thing you should do in determining how to best market your solution is to determine to whom you want to sell it. For all but the largest businesses, the narrower your focus, the higher your likelihood for success. Here are some of the reasons for having a highly focused target market.
- Many small businesses have experience in a specific industry or market niche. Focusing on that niche takes advantage of your existing strengths and provides the quickest path to revenue.
- If you focus on a particular niche, you have a good opportunity to dominate that niche. It's better to be known as the go-to provider for a particular niche than be one of many unfocused competitors trying to sell their solutions wherever they can.
- Having a highly focused target audience makes tactical marketing easier and successful.
- Develop buyer personas and ideal customer profiles for the companies and buyers that are most likely to produce profitable customers.
- Develop a lead qualification process that ensures you only expend valuable sales resources on your target market. Be very disciplined about this.
2. Develop messaging to communicate your unique value
It is extremely important to develop messaging that communicates your unique value proposition - why your ideal customer should purchase from you rather than the numerous alternatives available (including doing nothing!) Many people would list as the first thing to do. I listed it as second because expertise and experience within a niche can be part of your unique value statement.
Once you have your value messaging established, you should constantly review and update it. This messaging is very important and will permeate all of your inbound marketing efforts.
- Get your sales, marketing and management team together to create your value messaging. It may help to have an outside facilitator to provide perspective.
3. Develop consistent visual branding
Your visual branding should communicate your unique value message. For example, if you're targeting law firms, your visual branding should be clean, professional and communicate authority.
Unless you have branding professionals on staff, you should not do this yourself! Find branding professionals that understand your objectives and message and let them guide you through the process to develop your visual branding.
It's extremely important to be consistent with your visual branding. Logos, colors, fonts and taglines should be used consistently from your website to powerpoint presentations to videos. A good way to ensure consistent visual branding is to use a style guide. A style guide details colors and fonts to use, logo usage, and many other elements that support consistent visual branding.
- Hire a branding professional to create a visual identity that reflects your value message.
- If you don't need a new visual identity, have a branding professional develop a style guide for you.
- Get everyone on your team on the same page with respect how to use your visual branding.
4. Create a website with your visual branding cues
It only makes sense that a modern, functional website is critical to your inbound marketing success. Here are a few things to consider for your website.
- Your website should be designed for humans, not search engines. Make sure your web designer incorporates strong user experience fundamentals into your website.
- Make sure your website is designed for lead generation. Part of the user experience optimization is to focus users on converting on lead generation offers and getting them into your sales process.
- Make sure your value messaging is effectively communicated on every page of your website.
If your website is more than 3 years old, consider a website redesign.
- Grade your website using this tool. Fix any problems identified.
5. Buy inbound marketing software
If you're a professional builder, you should have high-quality tools. They need to be durable and get the job done. Inbound marketing is no different. If you want to be a pro, you need to have the right tools in the form of inbound marketing software. We like HubSpot. We're HubSpot Certified Partners and we use HubSpot for our own marketing. We're not alone - HubSpot has over 16,000 customers in 90 countries.
There are other inbound marketing software packages available like GreenRope, SharpSpring, InfusionSoft and Marketo. All have their proponents. What you shouldn't do is try to juggle Google Analytics with a WordPress blog with Buffer social media software with a WordPress lead generation plug-in with a Zoho CRM. If you're serious about inbound marketing, get a good tool and become a master of it.
Get your inbound marketing team together
Now you're ready to get started. It's time to get your team together. Your team will likely be a balance of internal members and an outsourced inbound agency. You will need content creators, lead generation specialists, a social media community manager, SEO experts and project managers.
Most organizations use outsourced inbound experts to help them with some or all of their inbound marketing needs. These relationships typically evolve over time with outsourced tasks moving from the tactical to the strategic as your internal team becomes adept at tactics.
1. Download our eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Hiring an Inbound Agency.
Getting these fundamentals right is the difference between a successful inbound marketing program and an unsuccessful one. Take the time upfront to get it right and you will be rewarded. Want to learn more? Schedule a free inbound marketing consultation.