How to Create Your Inbound Strategy: 6 Key Questions to Ask
Inbound marketing is a strategy that, when executed properly, can deliver great results. But, the key phrase there is “when executed properly.” In order for your inbound strategy to be effective, you have to create a well-reasoned and detailed plan. And in order to do that, you have to ask yourself some key questions.
Your marketing strategy will likely include granular tactics, but before going into that kind of detail you need to step back and look at the big picture.
Here are some foundational questions you should consider as you get started:
1. Who is your target market?
We list this question first because the truth is, if you don’t have a clear and complete vision of your ideal customer, you don’t have a business plan. Where do they live and what is their income? What is their occupation? What are their hobbies and passions? What are their struggles and pain points? You need to know them like they’re your best friend. The good news is that there is a proven process for creating your “target personas.”
“If you do not have a complete vision of your ideal customer, your business is not optimized.” TWEET THIS
2. What are your short-term and long-term goals?
OK, maybe that’s two questions. Unfortunately, many companies only consider one or the other, and in some cases neither. It’s important that you not only think about what you want to achieve this month, this quarter, or this year, but also what your objectives are for the next 3-5 years. That long-range perspective can help prevent the natural tendency to make too many “course corrections” to a sound strategy that has simply hit a few bumps on the road to success.
3. How will you gauge the effectiveness of your inbound marketing plan?
If your measure of success is whether or not you are hearing statements such as, “It feels like we’re getting some traction with this campaign” or “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on our latest offer,” you will struggle to achieve your objectives. Hard stats—whether it is leads generated, followers added, sales closed, or some other figure—are what you should be using to assess and fine-tune your strategy.
4. What are your competitors doing?
Companies will sometimes say, “We don’t focus on our competitors. We chart our own course.” That sounds good, but the reality is that what others in your industry are doing may cause subtle (and sometimes dramatic!) market shifts. And, if you aren’t paying attention, you may find yourself left behind. Nobody says you should imitate your competitors, but it’s definitely wise to keep an eye on them.
5. What partnerships can help you reach your goals?
No company operates in a vacuum. Your organization, like every organization, is part of a business ecosystem. Establishing relationships with companies that have products or services that complement yours (and vice versa) can be critical to your success.
6. How will you retain your existing clients?
This is a question that many companies overlook when developing their inbound marketing strategy or simply put off as something they’ll think about later. But, to paraphrase Ben Franklin, “A customer saved is a customer earned.” And the earnings can be significant. According to a study by Bain & Company, a 5 percent increase in customer retention produces more than a 25 percent increase in profit.
Your Roadmap for Success
There is no denying that developing a solid inbound strategy takes a significant amount of effort. It’s certainly much easier to just “wing it” and make decisions as you go. But, the payoff for investing the time and energy upfront to produce your comprehensive plan is that everyone in your organization understands where you’re headed and how you will get there, so your efforts companywide are efficient and effective.
If you’re looking to craft or refine your inbound plan, we’ve got extensive experience in marketing strategy and can share insights gained from our work with clients in a wide range of industries. Contact us today and let’s start asking the questions that will drive your company forward.