The Inbound Growth Blog

The Inbound Growth Blog covers all topics relating to an integrated marketing strategy. We write about inbound marketing, social media, integrated marketing strategies and the sales process.

The Biggest Inbound Marketing Problem I See Every Day

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Posted by John Beveridge on Jun 6, 2016 12:31:41 PM


I've had my inbound marketing agency for over 4 years now. We're fortunate enough that our inbound marketing efforts are providing us with a healthy supply of sales-ready leads. By sales-ready leads, I mean prospects that are ready to buy marketing services and schedule an inbound marketing consultation with us.

In our sales process, we have a "try before you buy" offer. If it's good enough for IBM, it's good enough for us. Our try before you buy offer is an audit of the prospect's inbound marketing process. Since we specialize in managing inbound marketing on the HubSpot platform, most of these are a review of their HubSpot efforts.

Most of these prospects have a variation of the same problem - they have unclear, inconsistent messaging. We're not being critical, we had the same problem until we recently went through a structured positioning statement process.

You may ask, "What does messaging have to do with inbound marketing?" The answer is everything! All of your inbound marketing efforts should flow from and support your positioning statement. You might also have heard this described as a unique value proposition: the answer to the question:

Why would a client buy from my company, recognizing all of the other options available to them, including doing nothing?

What is a positioning statement?

As stated above, a positioning statement answers the question "why would a client buy from my company, recognizing all of the other options available to them, including doing nothing."

The positioning statement should include 4 elements:

  • What you do - what are your core competencies, values and outcomes?

  • Who you do it for - what types of companies are your happiest customers?

  • How you do it - your special sauce that makes you different and better from the prospect's other alternatives.

  • Why do do it - other than money, why do you do what you do?

Your final positioning statement should be simple and easy to understand. The process by which you develop it is anything but simple.

The most common problem with professional services messaging

The most common messaging problem we see with professional services firms is that they are too unfocused. In an effort not to exclude any potential source of revenue, many professional services firms try to be all things to all people. What their messaging often conveys is that they are a jack of all trades and a master of none.

We are a proponent of focusing on niches and narrowing your targets. We've learned this in our own business. When we narrowed our focus to the industries where we've worked and that we know, our sales results improved drastically.

We know professional services and technology companies. If you need help with your ecommerce business, we will recommend you to someone who can help you. We can't.

We work with HubSpot. If you're looking for help with Marketo, we're not the agency for you.

Paradoxically, since we've adopted this messaging (and lived it), we've gotten more sales opportunities, not less.

Another similar problem we often see is constantly changing messaging. A company sees a competitor doing something and tries to copy it. They end up coming off as a watered-down version of the original.

I've seen some companies change their messaging literally monthly. By changing your messaging so frequently, you confuse your audience (and search engines.) A message that changes that frequently ends up being no messaging.

Why is messaging so important to inbound marketing?

A well-crafted positioning statement serves as the foundation of your inbound marketing efforts.

What you do serves as the foundation for the types of content your produce. Buyers typically progress through a process before buying your products. Your inbound marketing should offer content to help potential buyers through all of the steps of their buying journey.

Who you do it for defines your ideal customer profiles and buyer personas. If you're trying to sell to CFOS at technology companies, your inbound marketing needs to address their pain points and show them how you can ease the pain. This should be done in a consultative manner, not a sales pitch.

How you do it (your secret sauce) communicates your differentiators to the people you are targeting. This should be embedded in your inbound marketing processes.

Why you do it conveys your passion and shows that you care about your employees, customers and the world in general.

A lack of clarity in your messaging flows all the way down your inbound marketing processes and leads to a lack of results. Clarity in your messaging helps you set up marketing automation processes that identify your best prospects so that they are prioritized in your sales process.

If you're looking to reinvigorate your inbound marketing efforts to improve results, the first place to look is your messaging. Once you get that nailed down, the rest of the process will easily flow into improved results.

Topics: Inbound Marketing

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