If you're a C-suite executive or business owner, chances are you've been talking to yourself a lot lately. The economy is much slower to rebound than we hoped. You must control costs since earnings are weaker than expected. You can't stop marketing, but marketing is your number one expense other than payroll. What's the best course of action?
According to a recent survey of over 200 business leaders like you, companies using inbound marketing as their primary marketing strategy average 60% lower cost per sales lead than those using traditional outbound techniques. Social media and blogs ranked at the top of the list of the most effective and cost-effective methods of generating new leads. Of the companies surveyed, small business are particularly active, spending over 40% of their lead generation budget on inbound marketing. Assuming that inbound marketing does generate more cost-effective leads than traditional marketing, how do companies choose between in-house and outsourced inbound marketing strategies?
The bottom line for most of you is cost. While it's true that you can reallocate some or most of your marketing budget in the direction of inbound marketing, how much is enough, and where do you start? Let's look at the cost factors for in-house inbound marketing vs. hiring an inbound marketing agency:
Roll Your Own Inbound Marketing Team
- Planning and Strategy - Do you have the expertise to do this, or do you need to hire a consultant? Do you have a social media policy in place? When do you plan to start? If you're already active in inbound marketing, where do you go from here?
- Hiring - Who's going to manage the operation? Do you have one or more experienced bloggers? Can they blog several times a week with an eye towards improving SEO results? What about social networking? Do you have a team ready to engage, promote and monitor social media every day. What about putting together Facebook and Twitter campaigns? What about creating graphics and video for your inbound marketing blogs and campaigns? Somebody needs to analyze the results and make recommendations for new content and new strategies. People with these skillsets can be expensive. Here's a resource we put together summarizing these costs.
- Fixed costs - Do you have an inbound-marketing-ready website, complete with blog, calls-to-action, landing pages, seo tools, analytics and reporting? You can do these things piecemeal, but what's the labor cost of compiling and analyzing results from diverse sources? If you purchase an integrated solution, like HubSpot, there's a monthly cost associated with the license. If you use other for-fee resources for webinar, video hosting, video production, or podcasting, you must figure those into your budget as well.
Hiring an Inbound Marketing Agency
- Do they provide all of the functions you need, or just a subset? Can they provide strategy, website design, graphic design, blogging, social media setup and engagement, seo, analysis and reporting? if the answer is "no" to any of these, you will want to fill in the gaps with another firm or consultant.
- Do they customize their services to fit your needs, or do they only offer a one-size-fits all package?
- Do they have a track record that they are willing to share with you? Inbound marketing hasn't been around all that long, so if they claim several years of experience, they're talking gibberish.
- Do they have a proven background in marketing, experience that they can leverage to bring the "marketing" part of inbound marketing? Or are they specialists in one aspect, such as SEO, and now claim to do the rest?
So it's up to you, weighing the short and long-term benefits of inbound marketing versus outbound marketing. Can you revitalize your marketing results using inbound techniques yet save costs at the same time? A growing list of companies of all sizes would answer "yes". Don't take my word for it. Read many blogs, e-books and whitepapers on the subject. Ask lots of questions of agencies like ours and other businesses engaged in inbound marketing. In this new "social mediasphere" people are far more likely to share this information with you. At least bring in some outside to help in the planning stages. They can assist you in estimating the costs and benefits of inbound marketing to help you make a more informed decision for your company.
Let us know if you'd like a free consultation.
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