A key part of any strategy is understanding your resources and planning so that your people, tools, and processes are equipped and aligned. When all of the resources at your disposal work together they allow you to achieve specific goals, like your 2016 Marketing Goals.
When we look at some of the things we know, it helps us to better understand the shape of our strategy and, in turn, this allows us to align our resources. Some interesting takeways include:
1. B2B companies with at least 400 website pages generate 4X the leads of sites with less than 100 pages
2. Companies that publish 15 new articles a month generate 5X the leads of those that only publish 1
3. Websites with 40 landing pages generate 6X the leads of those with 10 or less
These facts help us see that building new content needs to be a priority. However, to build an inbound marketing engine of that size (400+ pages, 15+ articles a month, and 40+ landing pages) takes carefully managed resources working together. I'm going to walk you through three high level strategies that business owners and executives can use to deploy resources strategically and reach their 2016 Inbound Marketing Top Line Growth Goals.
Do it yourselves - Insource
The first option you have is the DIY method. Doing it yourself has a couple of advantages. Firstly, when you insource your inbound marketing you have complete control. The only thing that limits you when insourcing is your time and ability. The second big advantage of insourcing is, of course, that there is no external cost. However, you need to balance the ROI of outsourcing against the ROI of your own time and internal resources.
To help determine if the time/ability/ROI work out in your favor, you should start by asking yourself a couple of questions.
- Time - Inbound marketing can be time consuming. Research, creation, and maintenance all take time and you need to ask yourself if you have the internal capacity or the ability/desire to hire a team.
- Expertise - Does anyone on your team have experience with successful inbound strategies and campaigns?
- Talent - Can your team learn inbound marketing fast enough to make a difference in 2016?
- Focus/management - Do you have the bandwidth to manage this team to drive results in 2016?
Hire someone to do it all - Outsource
If insourcing isn't the right fit for you, the next obvious option is outsourcing. Outsourcing allows you transfer the time and energy requirements onto an external team with the right experience to help you meet your goals.
Again, a couple of questions can help you determine if the team you're considering is the right fit.
- Subject matter expertise - Does the agency you are considering know anything about your field or customers? This is especially important if you plan on outsourcing your content creation.
- Track record/references - Have they successfully and demonstrably grown a business using inbound strategy?
- ROI and accountability - Can they show how they will deliver an ROI and be accountable to the goals?
Hire someone to coach and consult your team - Hybrid Approach
The third strategy, a coach or consultant, is a combination of the first two. This hybrid approach allows you to maintain a high level of control and leverage the expertise you have in your own field, while also making use of an outside source to help guide you and remove some of the burden of time and resource management.
There are a couple of guideline questions for this approach as well.
- Who is compatible with our team - Can you integrate the inside team with an outside firm? Do you know who, internally, will be responsible for interfacing with the external team?
- Who manages the relationship - Is the there enough internal focus to keep the team on track? Who, internal vs. external, does what? How are responsibilities going to be divided?
- Setting goals, responsibilities and time lines - Can you build a system that is 1 + 1 = 10 in terms of ROI? How will you maintain accountability?
The disconnect for many business owners is that they either think the internal team can handle inbound with just a few hours here or there or, conversely, that outsourcing means throwing it over the wall to an agency and watching the leads roll in.
The key strategic question is a long term one:
What structure best suits your current resources and helps the company build a platform that sustains future growth goals?
In our experience with dozens of companies, working with consultants and agencies that have a proven track record of success is the surest pathway to reaching your goals. Very few companies we have seen in the B2B SMB space have the internal expertise to execute a strategic inbound marketing strategy that makes a major impact on company goals.
Many companies find that the outsourcing model works for them mainly because it allows them to focus on what they do best (their own business) rather than inbound marketing. One word of caution, however, if an agency or consultant does not have a solid list of references and tangible evidence that they have run successful inbound marketing campaigns, then buyer beware. We just took on a new client that had hired a large well known national firm to handle their inbound marketing and after 6 months fired them for gross under performance. Our new client hired them without getting any real references. TLR, on the other hand, provides a long list of references as well as access to active HubSpot accounts showing real data to show our effectiveness.
For other companies, however, pure outsourcing isn't the right approach. Many companies bring agencies and consultants in to help build the internal team and train them over time to be able to run the program internally. This is an attractive strategy for companies that have more internal resources available in marketing and sales but lack inbound marketing expertise.
Adding inbound marketing as a top line growth strategy makes sense for most B2B companies, how they structure the resources will determines if it is successful.