7 Reasons Inbound Marketing Might Be Wrong for Your Organization

By Meghan Sullivan / 03 Feb 2017


It’s already been eight years since Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, founders of HubSpot, put inbound marketing on the map with their book, Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs. The book fundamentally altered the way readers viewed marketing and lead generation. It flipped traditional marketing philosophy on its head by suggesting a simple premise: Be helpful instead of pushy, and leads will come to you on their own.

Traditional methods often found the relationship with potential leads happening on the brand’s terms. The approach was frequently “We’re going to tell you how great we are and why you should buy from us, and we’re going to send you these messages whether you want them or not.” Consumers learned to tune these messages out. Advertisements are ignored, if they’re even reaching the right audiences to begin with.

Technology today allows us to be much more targeted and nuanced in our approach. Customers conduct their own research online and seek out more information about products when they’re ready for it. An inbound marketing approach supplies customers with information they’re looking for when they’re ready for it. If they engage with content, that indicates a level of interest allowing the brand to follow up with more information.

Inbound marketing has entered the mainstream and most marketers today have at least heard of it. As buzz builds you may start to wonder, “Is inbound marketing right for my organization?”

There’s a good chance it is. Inbound marketing can work for B2B and B2C organizations from all industries and all company sizes. It works for both products and services.  

However, there are some circumstances, where inbound marketing cannot succeed or just isn’t a good fit. It’s good to make that determination ahead of time so that you don’t waste time and resources.

Inbound might not be the right fit if:

  • You sell a commodity or a product that doesn’t require much research or decision-making. Simple purchases that don’t require much thought don’t align with an inbound strategy. Inbound marketing is all about helping buyers through the process of understanding their needs, weighing options, and making a decision. Some purchases just aren’t that complex.
  • Your sales and marketing efforts aren’t in alignment. In order for inbound marketing to work, marketing and sales need to be on the same page. Sales has valuable information about customer issues and needs that marketing should use in crafting campaigns. Marketing needs to make sure campaigns attract the right leads so that, once a lead reaches the point of talking to a company representative, it’s the right kind of lead.
  • Your products and services aren’t well defined. One reason inbound marketing works is because it puts so much power in the consumer’s hands. They choose what content and messages they consume from you, and when. As they conduct research before making a purchasing decision, they want to find as much information as possible on your website. If it’s not clear exactly what you offer, what it costs, why it’s better than alternatives and how you’ve been able to help other customers like them, your website isn’t adequately supporting the buyer’s journey.
  • You expect inbound to be a silver bullet or a quick fix. If your current strategy isn’t yielding the results you want, it’s good to try something new. However, it’s not realistic to expect inbound marketing to deliver a turnaround in a matter of weeks. Implementing an inbound marketing strategy is a marathon. It takes time to build, implement, and perfect, but once it’s fully up and running, it can create results long-term.
  • You’re not able to make a long-term commitment to a marketing strategy. Before embarking on an inbound marketing strategy, make sure every key stakeholder has bought in and understands that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Your customers don’t shop or research online. It’s crucial to fully understand your buyer personas before launching an inbound strategy. If you know your buyers well, you may know how they make buying decisions, and it may turn out they don’t do research online. Inbound marketing is largely a web-based marketing approach.
  • You don’t have the resources to produce consistent, quality content. At the heart of every successful inbound campaign is quality, helpful content your buyer personas are drawn to...and that’s harder to produce than you think. If you don’t have the time or talent to produce great content (or the budget to hire top-notch content creators) your inbound strategy will struggle right out of the gate.

There can be other factors that help determine whether inbound marketing is a good fit for your organization, but these seven will get the decision-making process started. If you’ve implemented inbound marketing and considered other factors, please leave us a comment below!

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