How companies with a small staff make inbound marketing work

By Julia Briggs / 19 Oct 2015

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The other day, I was reminiscing about my first car (a blue Mazda Protege 323 with a standard stick shift). I loved that car because when I drove it, I really had to drive it — both feet, both hands required. I craved that feeling of full driving control.

Inbound marketing is a lot like driving that car. It takes time to learn to maneuver with it and get the best results. There’s no automatic transmission with inbound. You don’t just put it in Drive and expect it to work. Inbound needs both feet and both hands at all times to get where you want to go. It requires time, investment and know-how.

People running smaller companies often get tripped up by the time and attention required to drive inbound marketing. They see the appeal, but trouble arises because they are running a “lean ‘n’ mean” operation to begin with and trying to do it all themselves. They quickly find there are too many moving parts and not enough hands.

So, how are companies with a small marketing staff making inbound work?

Here are some ways to keep your inbound program on the road:

5 hands-on tips for making inbound work

Often, business leaders in smaller companies struggle with the time spent working IN the business versus the time they need to dedicate ON the business. But the number one rule in making inbound work is, quite simply, making time for it. Here are 5 ways we help our clients focus on the tasks at hand:

  1. Don’t take on too much at once.
    Block out an hour each day to concentrate on your inbound marketing. Focus on items you do well, and delegate what you can to your staff. Eliminate the unnecessary. Then choose what you want to outsource. Keep inbound meetings and to-do lists short. In this way, when you review each week’s progress, you’ll be certain that you’re getting somewhere.
  2. Set goals and benchmarks.
    Having smart goals ensures you’ll be able to track all tangible results to share with the world (or pass on to your boss). Assess your company’s position, and let go of the get-rich-quick-and-easy fantasies. Ask yourself, what does reasonable success look like? Keep in mind the amount of work needed to reach your goal is directly proportional to the scale of your goals.
  3. Multiply, divide and conquer.
    Write down 12 different services, products, features, methods or successes your business supports. Use this list as a starting point for your offers. I’ll give you the first one – offer a free meeting or consultation. From this one item, you’re able to generate twelve different offers, or one offer per month. Now identify 4 client types. Write 1 blog post for each client type around your 12 offers. That’s 48 blog posts. Finally, find three interesting points in each blog post and use those to create three social posts per week. That’s 144 social posts. Now your foot is on the gas.
  4. Make your offers interesting.
    We know you think about your business all day long, but your customers don’t. They think about their own businesses and the problems they face. So what are your customers' pain points, and what do you offer them to solve their problems? Have a clear value proposition.
  5. Understand that inbound is a journey, not a jaunt.
    Each of your prospects is on a buyer’s journey – which includes stages of awareness, consideration, and finally, decision to buy.  You are on that journey with them, and it’s important to recognize the process doesn’t happen overnight. By consistently publishing relevant content online, you increase your chances for awareness, consideration and ultimately, purchase. And we just did the math for you about how much content it’s going to take to spread the word. So pace yourself.

Getting the most mileage from a small staff

It’s really interesting to learn that people who fail at inbound are doubling down on it anyway. According to HubSpot’s “State of Inbound 2015,” of those who failed with inbound in the past, 81 percent still increased their budget this year.

This tells us how much company leadership believes in inbound. And it’s why we here at Blue Star have worked so hard to shift our inbound practice into high gear: to ensure our clients can reap the benefits of inbound and achieve results.

The people you need to create compelling content that turns website visitors into leads don’t always need to be your own employees. This year’s “State of Inbound” showed an increase in the number of respondents who indicated they use freelancers and agency partners for content creation. People like us, who are ready to jump in when peak performance is needed.

We understand inbound requires:
•    Time, investment & training
•    Powerful content
•    Compelling design
•    Lead-nurturing best practices
•    Know-how for turning leads into customers
•    Ability to track ROI and prove success

Large companies that command sizable budgets can afford flashy advertising campaigns. But smaller companies who invest in inbound often find they possess just as much marketing power — and sometimes more — than their deep-pocketed peers. It all comes down to their ability to shift their own gears and do their own driving.

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