You may not be "country" enough to know what fence sitting is all about, and you may not be old enough to know what a barnstormer is, so I'm going to lay it out for you. Fence sitters are an indecisive lot. They can't decide which side is greener, so they sit on the fence and do nothing. Barnstormers, on the other hand, are daredevils. Flying a biplane through a small barn is a no-brainer. The heck with the risks—let's do this! At some point, marketing executives are faced with making decisions about strategy and tactics and the degree to which they will be "all-in." When it comes to inbound marketing, there seems to be little middle ground. You're either in, or you're out. Into which of these camps do you fall?
Let's face it, inbound marketing is a disruptive strategy in the sense that you have to change the way you do marketing. You have to stop pushing your products and start engaging in helpful conversations. This means all of your messaging and digital assets are probably in need of an overhaul. You need to hire journalists and social media wonks, data analysts and sales and marketing hybrids. It's a big investment in time and money, and the ROI comes only after several months of hard work. Are you ready for this? Here's what we hear from the fence sitters on a regular basis:
The thing is, there are tons of published case studies showing the ROI and best practices for inbound marketing. Just Google "inbound marketing case studies" if you don't believe me. Does inbound always work as advertised? No way. It takes commitment on your part—talent, budget and backing from the Management Team to be truly successful.
There are certainly risks involved in being the first one to the party. You stick your neck out, and you're likely to get the axe, right? Well, maybe. The thing is, inbound marketing has been going strong for 5 to 6 years now, so the testing phase is over. According to HubSpot's 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report, the cat is definitely out of the bag:
So, inbound marketing is becoming mainstream and is gaining traction in just about any industry you care to name. Don't believe me? Just check out your competition's website. Is there a blog? Social media profiles and ongoing conversations? Educational downloads and webinars? If so, you have some ground to make up—quickly. If not, maybe you still have a chance to lead the way.
Either way, the barnstormers have already left the hangar. They've been flying for years. Right now, the divide between fence sitters and early adopters is starting to look like the Grand Canyon. Here's my free advice to you:
How will you generate new sales leads in this digital world? Will the old stand-by methods continue to work? Or have they already started to break down? If your competitors jump on the inbound marketing bus and you don't, how will you compete? If you take a wait-and-see approach, won't you be giving them an advantage? Your call.
As Mr. Spock would say, live long and prosper. But for Pete's sake, get off the fence.
Photo credit: Capt' Gorgeous
With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. Connect with John via Twitter, LinkedIn or Google Plus.