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What does it take to go inbound? More than you probably think...


Since its inception in the 1970s, telemarketing has never really been a welcomed act - something about answering the phone in the middle of dinner only to hear a sales pitch has always felt less than... ideal.Magazines were emerging as a medium in the 1730s - with the first American magazine published in 1741 in Philadelphia.

Billboards started being rented in 1867, radio advertising begins in 1922 - by 1933 more than half of all households in the U.S. have a radio.

1941 is the first year of TV advertising. 

And by 1946 telephones have penetrated half of all households. 

The whole time marketing is growing into the thriving advertising industry you see today and by the 1970's telemarketing is going full steam.

But into the late 90s different mediums such as TV, print, outdoor and radio, were outbound in nature.  

By 2002 mobile phones were growing in popularity and the Internet is the hottest commerce tool around. Together they revolutionize the way people shop and the way marketer's will market. 



Part 1

How and why inbound marketing became popular

Fast forward 40+ years to Facebook users like posts over 4 million times a minute, and instagram user like posts over 2 million times a minute. 7 million videos are watched on Snapchat, 87,000 hours of video is streamed through netflix, a million tinder swipes and 70 millioin words are translated by google - every 60 seconds. 

To some extend, the technology landscape started to take off in the late 90s because marketers figured out how to send automated message at large-scale, aka spam, which wouldn't last long. 

Once the dot-com bubble burst new trends emerge in the industry that provide new ways for consumers to engage with brands. In other words, consumers weren't going to tollorate aggressive advertising and false claims any longer. 

And with the power of Google and the connectivity of social networks, consumers became more indifferent in the face of endless options. With each option the consumer gains, businesses gain a competitor.

Business is fighting to impress customers and each time one company out-does the next a new industry standard is set - consumer expectations are constantly on the rise. 

This leads to the Can-Spam act in 2003 and the rise of social networks, followed by email spam filters, DVRs, do not call list, ad blockers, and the list goes.

The growth of ad blocking technology across all mediums exploded due to the extreme levels of spam. Making it more difficult to reach customers.

Focused on attracting people through content and adding value (instead of forcing advertising) inbound marketing emerged and forever changed the industry once again. 

Content started to show up in the form of eBooks, white papers, and social media posts. The strategy become educate and inspire action. The goal was to build deep meaningful connections by producing content that added value.  

But marketers have this strange history of spamming thier way out consumers lives.

Due to the low barrier of entry and low costs of publishing, everyone turned into a marketer overnight and digital content exploded - more spam and a lot more crap! 



Part 2

What does it takes to go inbound (and not produce more crap)

For starters, you need a game plan.

Transitioning your marketing team or business isn't as straight forward as starting a new project. It requires a different way of thinking, a different way of acting and most importantly a new way of doing.

To make the transition as seamless as possible you'll want to pre-develop a few scenarios that you think may happen so you can start to document how you will react if the unexpected happens - or in this case, the expected.

The two major parts of any team, the people and the process, will both need to be transformed. You'll have to create a new culture to fully embrace a new strategy.


The Right People

The goal is to develop a high performing and agile team whom possesses the right skill sets and right mindset - then build the right habits

To do this you'll need to take a few things into consideration.

First is the way your team is structured. Match your team to your marketing funnel for the most streamlined activity.

Part of your marketing team will be responsible for top-of-the-funnel efforts such as blogging, SEO, and social media to attract new people to your website.

The middle-of-the-funnel team will be responsible for optimization, analytics and lead scoring to convert new visitors into leads.

And the bottom-of-the-funnel team will be responsible for product marketing, training, and messaging to nurture leads for the sales team or directly to a close won.

For example, a 3 person marketing team might have 1 person at each stage of the funnel. 1 person focused on attracting, 1 person focused on converting and the last person focused on nurturing.

Another way to organize a 3 person team would be to assign 2 people to the attract phase and the other person would handle both converting and nurturing.

If unsure, always favor the top-of-the-funnel. Keeping a fresh flow of new visitors coming to your website will give you a lot of room to increase conversion through the rest of the funnel.

But without a consistent flow of unique visitors you're results will quickly start to feel the pain.


The Right Processes

The goal is to create a predictable and scalable marketing engine.

Start by taking stock of your existing processes. Determining which ones have in palce and which processes need to be created. This list of 25 processes is a great starting point.

One major difference between a lot of inbound marketing activities and traditional marketing activities is how they are completed.

Traditional marketing activities are typically laid out on a gantt chart. Meaning their duration is usually a result of average time to complete or the resources used along the way.

Activities such as writing a blog post can take 25 minutes to complete or two weeks, depending on the detail and research involved, and planning them using a waterfall approach will get you into trouble.

Instead, using the blog example again, you'll want to use a "checklist" that needs to be completed before you can hit publish combined with a forecast of the expected results.



Final Thoughts

Always keep in mind that people will resist change at first, but they always come around - just think about Facebook releasing the newsfeed, everyone went nuts. 

To make the transition a little less painful and a little more streamlined, introduce changes at a slow pace. I wouldn't recommend dropping the way your team has been operating over the past 10 years and expect everyone to be masters by the end of the day.

As always, the right tools can make your team's lives much easier. My only word of caution here is that your tools will only be as good as the system that drives them. Remember that processes run the operations and people run the processes.

Add in some extra time to account for an unknown learning curve and encourage everyone to air out their frustrations.



What did it take for you to go all in with inbound?