Thinking of Changing from Direct Sales to Inbound Marketing?

I recently had a conversation with a very successful business owner regarding the changing of company marketing success.  He has run a very successful direct sales company for the past twenty plus years and is now intrigued, curious would be the word he would use about how inbound marketing could change the scope and future of his business. This question is being asked by many, I assume, whom have built successful businesses using the old word marketing techniques (Newspaper, TV, Direct Sales).

As we sat and discussed the future and the power of using inbound marketing strategies for the future of the company I became concerned for not only the directions our conversation was taking but what many executives may be doing to their now successful business model. Are they jumping ship for another vessel which will not carry as much load?

My Point: Inbound Marketing, Social Media and Web-based marketing practices are great power pack of energy for a company, They can take a successful, well run business with the right vision and aptitude to fantastic new heights in business.  They however are not the next bigger and greater thing for all companies. With out the proper foundation of business and support Inbound Marketing and Social Media are a lot like switching your Newspaper budgets to Radio and Dropping your core vehicle for marketing. It just never works, you get a new exciting single success in the meantime lose all your marketing momentum.

Example: I ran the print marketing for a company in Boise Idaho in the late 90’s and I will never forget the mistake this business owner made. He had in the marketplace the number 2 furniture store in the Metro area at that time and ran a comprehensive marketing plan on TV and in Newspaper every week. His Audience expected him to be there. His largest competitive nightmare (RC Wiley) had just come to town and had already put several of his competitors out of business. His marketing strategy was working and he was actually gaining share in a more competitive market. He made a rash decision one day in early spring to drop his Newspaper Budget and sink into a New Radio Promotion with targeted Direct Mail.  Long Story Short 30 days later he had his worst moth of sales in over 10 years, he immediate switched back to his original marketing and it took him over one year to get sales back to the same levels as before the rash decision.  His audience  did not know how to find him and perceived that in the new competitive market he was no longer a player and found alternatives.

Five tips to consider when starting your Inbound Marketing Program:

  1. What are my goals and expectations – set clear-defined goals for growth in your company. Remember these tools are meant to add to the company’s current audience base, not become the new smaller more connected audience.
  2. Designate the proper staffing for your inbound marketing strategy. Asking your current team to add it to their plate or to switch their focus will only deteriorate the success you are already having and translate into a flat or the deterioration bottom line.
  3. Set realistic Time Tables for growth – Inbound Marketing is not Direct Mail, you can’t count success in a week. You must build the audience, nurture the audience and then feed the audience before it will grow.
  4. Keep working you already have a successful business model, don’t stop jump off the boat and swim for the other ship just because it looks exciting. Your current ship is already going the right direction. Inbound and social media marketing should just help you gain more speed and collect more passengers.
  5. Commit – You can not be successful in Inbound marketing by just signing up. You most commit to the process. You must provide content, provide service, launch multiple strategies and measure response and adjust, again and again. This is why it is important to dedicate a staff or agency to helping you work this engine. Inbound marketing and social media marketing demand active participation.
So if trying to decide how to enhance your direct sales team with inbound marketing is your mission, Go for it. You will see great success and a big potential for success. If you goal is to turn inbound marketing into your new sales company, caution, you make be jumping off into a smaller vessel that is not meant to take you on the long journey of success.

Business Marketing advice from Harry Potter

Albus Dumbledore

Image via Wikipedia

I just got home from seeing the final chapter of Harry Potter.  It is ok, I will not be sharing the all important movie parts if you have not seen the movie, Just one line.

So how does Harry Potter and Business marketing relate accept for the fact their franchise is the one of the richest success stories in Hollywood history?  Let me not hold you in suspense…..

In the final Chapter Harry and Dumbledore do have one more conversation together and Dumbledore corrects an earlier line from the second film “The Chamber of Secrets“that really hit me as a great point in marketing. Do you remember the line “There will always be help at Hogwarts when you ask for it?” In this film he corrects himself and says that help will always be there for those who deserve it?  Quite a difference in those lines in life and in business.

Your business was built with your own sweet and dreams, and you probably have worked harder than anyone will ever know to get it growing. My Question is have you earned your customers and do you deserve their loyalty?

In today’s fast paced Social Driven Marketing world there is advice and tips every where on how to gain thousands of fans, followers and connections. It seems that many of the tips follow the same path as Dumbledore in the Chamber of Secrets – all you need to do is asked for friends, followers and connections and your Social Media and Marketing troubles are rescued and your will be victorious.  But how true is the corrected statement, help is for those who deserve it?  There are thousands of business people who have started gung-ho on social media adventures, gaining handful of fans, connections or followers as they added content and conversation online, only to find their fans did not share, their cash registers did not ring and they felt hey were wasting their time on meaningless conversation.

Why then are so many teaching that social media is the perfect marketing tool? That this single marketing tool can change the landscape of your business? Because it can and has for those who have earned it! The  individuals which stayed connected and invested their time, thoughts and expertise not to just enrich their pockets but to help others enrich theirs.  They gave first and continued to give of their knowledge until they had earned the right to ask for help, then their followers, connections and friends sprang to action and helped them succeed in their plans and business success.

If you are starting a social media campaign or have lost hope in your campaign take these tips seriously.  Victory in social media marketing is not for the ones who just show up and ask for help, you must earn the right to receive the help.

5 – Tips to get you started:

  1. Share you knowledge – you have a knowledge base, you might not think it is much but you do have a knowledge base share it freely. Yes if you have the secret recipe you don’t have to share it, but you can share tips and knowledge that will help others create their own secret recipe
  2. Share your answers –  invest time on the social media front helping others get the answers they need to be successful or find enjoyment.
  3. Share your advice – Who, what, when, why?  Pretend you’re a newspaper reporter and you have to interview yourself for an article. Remember the 4 W’s and start writing.
  4. Share your encouragement – People love to help people that make them feel good about themselves. Make someone else feel special
  5. Share your visions and dreams – What do you want the world to look like. Tell us. Yes you might get ridiculed from some but mostly you will help the best of us believe in you. And until we believe in you we will never promote or stand up for you.
So there you have it, Social Marketing tips from Harry Potter.  The movie is worth the price of admission.