I see a lot of companies making big investments in inbound marketing software, and that's great for software companies, but how about the buyers? How do they leverage their software investment to get the most bang for the buck? Can you just turn on your new inbound marketing website and start to watch the coffers fill up with new customers, or is there more to it? Can you buy a fast car and expect to win the Indy 500?
Whether you have an internal sales team or one person who handles both sales and marketing, you still have to find qualified leads before you can convert them to customers. Much of the cost in capturing leads lies in the top of the funnel, where you find your target market online or offline. Traditional advertising, direct mail, radio and tv all can be very expensive (per campaign), and unless you have a very large marketing budget, they can't be sustained for very long. This is in principal a big advantage of inbound marketing.
But inbound marketing requires much more than marketing software and the occasional blog post or tweet. To effectively target and reach qualified leads you need talented human resources dedicated to inbound marketing and a budget that doesn't preclude the use of online advertising, e-mail marketing, online media channels (such as webinars or podcasts) and even occasional outbound campaigns to increase brand awareness. You need talented people to do this:
With a minimum of one person per discipline, that's 5 people on your inbound marketing team. At an average salary of say, $60K (not including benefits), we're looking at a $300K+ marketing budget, not including hard costs for computers, software, space, outbound marketing costs, etc. Let's just take the minimum case of $300K and look at what you need to do:
My point is, if you want to do inbound marketing, do it right. It's expensive to hire and train people to do inbound marketing. You are exposed to much more financial risk by building your own internal team. By hiring an inbound marketing agency, you can typically leverage an entire team for about the cost of one employee, an employee with multiple skills who would be hard to find.
What about going back to outbound marketing? Maybe it's actually less expensive on an annualized basis. Could be, but does it generate enough qualified leads to sustain your sales targets? Surveys over the last few years show that outbound marketing has lost its effectiveness compared to inbound marketing.
What should you do? First, work the numbers. What size team do you need, what skills, what software and what cost? Calculate ROI targets and begin planning your attack. Bring in an inbound marketing agency to help you. You can hire them to get you started, then you have options. If they do well, you can keep them on and save money on building your own team. If they don't, you can fire them and move on. You can also bring them in for an "onboarding" period to get your internal team up to speed, then hand the ball off for ongoing operations.
Yes, we're an inbound marketing agency. This post may seem like a rather long advertisement for us, but it's not. Note, there are no internal links to sign you up for our services. We see too many companies buying the tools but not having the staff or talent to use them. There are many inbound marketing agencies. Contact the one that fits your company best, but give them a shot at least before you dive in and miss an opportunity.
Photo credit: rhett maxwell