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The Inbound Playbook

7 Tips to Getting Company Buy-In on Inbound Strategy

There are a surprising number of one-man marketing teams. Since I started working at SparkReaction I’ve met at least six people who have been lone wolves in their marketing departments at one point or another. As I’ve learned more about inbound marketing the more I just want to give them all a high five, because solo inbound work is tough!

Dollarphotoclub_60929761.jpgWhen you’re riding solo in your marketing department you’ve got a lot of liberties: you get to plan, implement, and analyze your marketing by yourself! (It’s all about staying positive, y’all.) And just because you don’t have a giant team or an agency to partner with doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of inbound marketing — it's a methodology that anyone can implement, big or small.

However, what does make it really difficult is not having your managers and C-suite behind you. When traditional marketing tactics are working “well enough,” it could be hard to convince your boss to just start changing up your tactics. Especially if nothing is really "wrong," just "could be much better."

But you know that inbound can take your business to new levels. Now it’s just convincing your boss to know, too. Here are seven steps to get your company to buy in to inbound.

1. Take the time to learn

It can be a hard sell telling your company you'd like to divert dollars away from paid campaigns toward inbound ones, like blogging and SEO investment. When you bring up the idea to your boss, they'll likely have a lot of questions for you. Make sure you’ve done all your homework and be ready to answer any questions thrown your way.

I recommend reading Inbound Marketing: Attract, Engage, and Delight Customers Online by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah (the founders of HubSpot). This quick read is jam-packed with all things inbound. It covers effective blogging to web design, social media engagement, consumer behavior, landing pages, and everything in between. Not to mention, the language is casual, conversational, and quite funny.

HubSpot Academy also has a very in-depth and interactive Inbound Certification course you could take–free of charge, whether you're a HubSpot customer or not. This series of videos, quizzes, and reading material walks you through the process of inbound from start to finish, and you get a shiny Inbound Certification badge to boot!

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2. Wow them with a presentation

Whether you prefer Powerpoint, Keynote, or Prezi, a presentation will be an effective way to get all your points across about inbound while providing your boss a chance to ask questions and learn more about the methodology.

When pulling together your presentation, always tailor it to your industry. This will make it easier for your boss to see that it can indeed work for your business. Take them through each major component of inbound marketing so they understand how each tactic will get you more leads through the funnel within your specific company.

The bigger picture explanation is important: "We're going to spend more time on a longer term investment, but one that grows our organic reach and draws in better quality leads — more value for our dollar."

You can also come equipped with case studies of how inbound has worked wonders for other companies. The proof is in the pudding! 

3. Know your company

Before you try and convince your boss, work on getting a strong understanding of your company's marketing inside and out. Take a good look at your marketing analytics to see how your current marketing is performing. Are you measuring your marketing consistently? Ask questions like "Where do our best leads come from?" and "How has that changed in the past (insert period of time)." If you use HubSpot, consider performing a HubSpot audit to find tangible areas of improvement.

At this point you can identify where your leads are coming from and if they're from are dated sources (like if they came from a cold call). Overall, gather as much intel as you can to bolster your case.

4. Talk about your competitors

As much as your boss might not like hearing about how awesome the competition is doing, tapping into this competitive side can be that extra push you need to get company buy-in. For example, are your competitors doing inbound? Take a look at their blog or social media channels to see how they're doing.

HubSpot users have access to the competitor's tool. You can initiate a HubSpot trial to use it, where it'll help you keep tabs on how well you're performing against other competitors in your industry. With the use of data and the tool's flexibility in sorting and and displaying the information, it more easily allows you to maintain your competitive edge.

5. Find some cold, hard facts

Regardless of what industry you're coming from, I would bet that your boss would love nothing more than hard evidence, so do some research to show the benefits of inbound. A quick Google search will show you tons of statistics to help back your case. HubSpot published a very useful blog as a good starting point, 23 Reasons Inbound Marketing Trumps Outbound Marketing. Here are a few statistics to get you started:

  • 200 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list.
  • 3 out of 4 marketers prioritize an inbound approach to marketing
  • 86% of people skip television ads
  • Inbound campaigns are 3x more likely to achieve higher ROI than outbound
  • 75% of all company types are successfully using inbound

6. Don’t just tell them, show them

There's a simple formula from k2d squared that can help you calculate real-life numbers for your company. You can even make your presentation a bit more interactive by doing the calculations with your audience (aka, your boss).

  • Monthly revenue goal / Average sale revenue = Number of sales you’ll need per month to reach your goal.
  • # of current clients / # of current leads = Lead to client rate (percentage)
  • Projects per month (as discovered in equation #1) / Lead to client rate (as discovered in equation #2) = # of leads you’ll need per month.

7. Show ‘em the money

You know what has been proven over and over throughout history to be one of the most persuasive things in the world? No, it's not science (excuse me while the scientistist in me silently weeps), but money. Money talks, and it's very persuasive. Don't be afraid to incorporate some dollar sign$ into your presentation.

Start by calculating how much money you spend on outbound methods and how much you would spend on inbound. You'll probably find that inbound will save you a significant portion of your marketing budget in comparison to traditional, outbound marketing, and you won't be the first one to make this discovery.

According to HubSpot's Inbound 2014 report, cost per acquision will be cheaper among companies of all sizescompany-buy-in-graph.png

All this evidence is fine and dandy, but in addition to showing off how awesome everyone else is doing with inbound marketing, you're going to have to take the time to show your boss that what you're currently doing is not enough.

That's the main idea of your presentation: you can be doing much, much more. Continue to show the decline in outbound marketing popularity and increased benefits and growth that comes with inbound, and don't be afraid to find more evidence and case studies for backup.

Now, let them think

So you've just thrown a bunch of overwhelmingly awesome info at your boss. You've blown them away with graphs, statistics, and real-life examples of successful inbound marketing stories. So now, it's time to let them contemplate.

Understand that the switch might not happen right away, and that's totally fine. Great things take time, and your boss did just get a lot of information to consider. So while he or she processes, all you can do is be ready to answer any questions and provide any resources they might need. So best of luck, and get researching!

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