This post originally appeared on LinkedIn's pulse.
It’s not a secret that I’m a huge fan of Inbound Marketing. Its philosophy, strategies and tactics have been instrumental in enabling me to go from running a wealth management firm to building a high growth lead generation and management company, without either breaking the bank or raising outside funds.
It’s helped thousands of entrepreneurs like me, as well as companies scaling much larger growth like HubSpot, Hewlett Packard and others. For those who prefer data to anecdotes, what’s not to love about inbound marketing? Consider:
- 46% of people read blogs more than once a day. (HubSpot Science of Blogging 2010)
- Companies that automate lead management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Source: Gartner Research)
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Source:The Annuitas Group)
- Companies with mature lead generation and management practices have a 9.3% higher sales quota achievement rate. (Source: CSO Insights)
- Content Marketing Institute recently reported that 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus in an advertisement. (Source: Content Marketing Institute)
While the data makes an extraordinarily powerful argument for embracing inbound and content marketing, it’s not for every company. Here are five reasons you would legitimately avoid Inbound:
Yours is a pure commodity purchase
Content marketing allows you to highlight your thought leadership and to accentuate the differences between your product/service and others. If you’re selling a pure commodity, inbound marketing probably doesn’t make sense for you. Your goal needs to be all about becoming the low-price provider and capturing share.
However, if you’re looking to expand margins and separate yourself from the competition, then it’s an ideal approach.
You’ve got too many qualified leads already
I remember several years ago I was speaking on the Gulf Coast. I was speaking with CEOs about The 5 Rules for Creating Demand. Content marketing is an important component of creating demand, and as I was discussing this, one of the CEOs brought up a great point.
He owned a construction company with a specialty in the casino industry that was growing there at the time. They were still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, which had destroyed a number of the casinos down there. He asked me if there was a point in creating content when he already had more demand than he could handle.
We had a similar situation with a logistics client of ours who was taking advantage of the Shale play in the Midwest. In all of these cases, inbound would not be a recommended strategy. When there’s a gold rush (more demand than supply) your job is to be there with lots of pans and shovels.
However, if your gold rush ends, competition will increase. If that’s possible, inbound is important to position you for the post-gold rush era.
You’re not ready to commit to creating resonating content
My biggest complaint about inbound fans is that they make it sound like inbound marketing is easy. It’s not. The most difficult and frustrating part of an inbound effort is in the first 6 – 9 months. There’s a tremendous amount of effort required to getting things going.
When you’re building the asset, the effort can feel like it’s a lot more than the reward. The upside is that once it’s working, it produces consistent results with a fraction of the resources and efforts needed from any other strategy.
That said, if you’re not willing to make the commitment to building the asset, don’t start.
Unwilling to focus on specific buyer types
Inbound requires focus. It’s not harder work than traditional approaches, but it requires more brainpower and focus. Especially around the areas of defining who your customers are – and who they are not.
I’ve found that the biggest Achilles Heel of small and mid-market businesses is the willingness to acknowledge (and truly accept) that there are certain clients who could be profitable, but shouldn’t be focused on. It’s far easier (in the moment) to just ignore that and try to be all things to all people.
Your role model is Sisyphus
Okay, you had to give me room for one sarcastic reason. The truth is that for more than 95% of SMBs out there, inbound marketing is the only viable strategy to stop pushing the “growth rocks” continuously uphill.
The real reason you’re not doing Inbound Marketing
Fear. The real reason that people fail to adopt an effective inbound strategy is that it requires real commitment. You’ve got to develop an effective strategy, do the hard thinking and then make it happen.
It “feels” safer to jump around with different approaches. Make some cold calls today. Send an email blast. Ask for referrals. When you’re jumping around from tactic to tactic, you have hope that the big score is just a great idea away.
When you engage with inbound, you’re forced to do the math. Consider what’s actually possible and then it’s up to you to build the assets needed to make it happen.
There’s an old saying, “In the middle, everything feels like failure.” With inbound, or any other sustained strategy for that matter, you’re forced to go through the middle. When you jump from tactic to tactic you aren’t.