We blog a lot about all the great things businesses can achieve with inbound marketing. We share all sorts of different inbound marketing tips that can be used to grow your business, and are not scared to drink our own champagne. Whilst we (Iconsive) live and breathe inbound marketing every day, we still recognise that it isn't always the right answer for your business, and in today's post I share some of the occasions where inbound marketing may not be the solution.
When Super Fast Results Are The Top Priority
There are numerous situations where you need super fast results from your marketing. To give an example, imagine you are running an event next week, and it's vastly undersold. You need to sell another 200 tickets, and you're struggling. Inbound marketing likely isn't going to solve this problem for you -- unless you already have an extremely well trafficked blog, or huge twitter following, for example. For most businesses, it's going to be too late to start publishing blog posts or sharing tweets to get those ticket sales in, at least without an inordinate amount of luck.
Inbound marketing is not a quick fix, and if instant results are vital, you will almost always be better off running some form of paid outbound campaign, for example pay per click ads in Google, LinkedIn or Facebook. This applies whether you are trying to hit this week's sales targets, just as much as it does for the selling the tickets above.
Generally speaking, inbound marketing takes time -- it's a longer term investment. It's all about building up a solid base of useful content that you can use to attract visitors to your website; convert visitors into leads and move leads along to sales. We tell our clients that they can usually expect to start generating a return on investment after 7-9 months of consistent, strategic inbound marketing effort. It's not a magic bullet that will solve your short term sales problems, but long term it will predictably and consistently grow your business.
When Your Product Does Not Require Education
Imagine you run a shop, which sells bouncy balls. People are not going to read tens of blog posts about how to choose the best bouncy ball; download an eGuide explaining the differences in bounce from various different sizes and ball materials or open your monthly newsletters discussing the bouncy ball industry and developments within. These people come to your shop (whether it's online, or physical), buy their bouncy balls, and leave.
If the product you are selling is a commodity that does not need to be differentiated in the market place other than maybe by price, then it is likely an inbound marketing approach is not suitable.
There is rarely a black/white case, but we do not recommend implementing the inbound marketing methodology when a company's prospects require virtually no education in order to choose your solution. The chances are, if you can 100% convince a completely uninformed person to buy your product in less than 2 minutes, inbound marketing isn't right for your company. The more informed your buyer needs to be to purchase from your company, the more an inbound marketing strategy will help your business to grow.
When You're Testing Market Fit Of Your Solution
If you have recently started a new company that solves a problem in a revolutionary new way, and you've not yet tested whether your target market will purchase your offering, you'd be wise to not put your entire marketing budget into inbound marketing.
When you are testing a radical new product/solution, and want to get it in front of a very specific segment of people quickly in order to get an understanding of whether the product/solution floats or not, then you care most about two things:
- Quickly getting an answer
- Getting an answer for the minimum cost
Paid adverts will typically get you a quicker answer, for less. Remember that inbound marketing is a long term initiative, so take the time to think through your company's product/service offering, and whether you are confident there is a market for it or not. Inbound marketing is usually only a sound investment if you are starting a new company with a tried and tested business model in an established market, or have already proved that people will purchase your solution. It's a great marketing method for scaling.
Inbound marketing is a very cost effective way to promote your business, but it's not always the right answer. Sit back and have a good think about where your business is going, and the goals it needs to achieve and try to work out if your business fits into one of the three categories above. If your business does, then maybe you need to think about alternative ways to overcome your challenges.