Inbound Marketing: Paying For Software Or Results?

As you are thinking about marketing strategy and how to drive revenue for your business, it can get confusing quickly. There are all these people selling their wares – SEO, social media, marketing software, adwords, etc. Many are trying to game the system and approach the market with gimmicks that can backfire (Note Google’s latest algorithm changes penalizing shady behaviors).

We often have the discussion around inbound marketing ROI with clients and how they can think through the decision. The first thing to think about is why people buy and how they do it.

Inbound Marketing Or Outbound Selling?

In the old economy, it was about disruption and persuasion. If you could interrupt people with a great gimmick via commercials, advertising, print, billboards or whatever could get attention, then you could get face time. Face time relied on the skill of the salesperson to use their persuasion skills.

Some companies still do this in vain and rode out this method to its very end in their respective markets.

The world changed after Web 2.0 and every industry has been impacted. The mindset of buyers have also changed. They do not welcome a cold call or spam of any sort. They have built up behaviors and strategies to easily and conveniently block out the noise. You do this as well. You can use caller ID, spam filters, DVR and do not mail. We don’t want unsolicited offers. We don’t want to be sold.

However, we are looking to increase our own value every day. We are looking for answers. We search. We ask other people what they think. This is convenient and we do it as second nature online or with our mobile devices. It’s how we buy. Millions of people are doing it right now.

If you have systems set up to capture and drive inbound traffic rather than interrupt people, then you are participating and connecting with how people buy today. If your system is a process with valuable content, metrics, calls to action, automation and a host of other strategies, then you are building an inbound marketing asset. Assets continue to build and provide value over time, namely leads and customers.

Software, Talent, Strategy And Headaches

Assuming you align with how the new economy works via inbound marketing, then the question of how to build your systems and processes is next to consider. There are costs for two different paths:

  1. Do it yourself
  2. Partner with experts

Lets consider the variables with each approach:

  • Software. Before you do anything yourself, you would have to pay thousands for the software for inbound marketing. This includes content management, analytics, optimization, syndication and publishing. Be prepared to budget over $20K/year before anything even gets built if you do it yourself. If you partner, then you can focus on services and delivery of assets – content, systems and positioning. The money can go to something tangible rather than a tool.
  • Assets. If you are on someone else’s platform, then you are building their value. Partnering with experts focuses on the service. Build your own assets on your own platform. When the service ends, it is on your platform. 
  • Talent. Do you want to hire, manage and pay for all the talent on your team? Design work, content, IT systems, strategy, social media systems, analysis and process management have to all be done. This will easily run into six figures for your payroll. If you can partner, then the management and accountability are with an extended team for much less cost. Try getting access to seven talented people for less than the cost of a secretary.
  • Strategy. If you have not failed enough, then you will pay in time and money. Inbound marketing requires a great deal of strategy on how the buying process should work and what will connect to drive leads. The cost will be large if you don’t know what you are doing. A strong partner advises, leads and executes around solid strategy in our continually changing world.

There are plenty more aspects in the decision process for driving an inbound marketing approach for your business. Focusing around a return on investment, consider the systems, assets, talent and strategy questions. They have to get paid for and focusing on results for your investment highlights the value of service and expertise while growing your own assets.

It’s not about the buzz words, software, or fads. The results and success are what matters.

What do you think?

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