Getting the leadership team to support inbound marketing is vital to the success of your inbound strategy. Before expecting your leadership team to embrace inbound, you first need to make sure you understand exactly what inbound is. Inbound is not a program; it’s a methodology.
It’s critical that you and your team understand and embrace the Inbound discipline. It’s not just “content marketing” or “marketing automation.” Making a move to inbound marketing is making a shift in the way your company does business, through listening, educating and helping your audience and customers.
Why you Need Executive Buy-In
Getting your leadership team to support inbound marketing helps remove unnecessary barriers and leaves room for real advocacy. With the leaders of the business endorsing your efforts, incorporating inbound will be a much smoother process. And unless the top fully supports (and participates), other employees won’t take it seriously and won’t adopt the inbound mindset.
Why Leaders Struggle with Inbound Marketing
In all fairness to the executives, we need to remember that digital marketing, and especially inbound marketing, is still a relatively new concept to many business leaders. To them, the concept is still uncertain and to ask business leaders to “go all in” on something that they can’t get their heads around is going to be a tough sell.
Similar to how you would approach your buyers through content, approach the business leaders by first understanding their pain points and fears.
- Traditionally, business leaders are used to “corporatizing” company information and delivering a very controlled message to its public.
- Legal teams sweat, fearing the amount of risk facing the business if you suggest employees participate in social media engagement on behalf of the company.
- Customer service managers run screaming at the idea of customers using social media as a form of service and support. (“Why would we want customers to publicize what we did wrong? Other people will see our dirty laundry!”)
Like just about everything else, the way we do business is rapidly changing. And I’m not just talking about marketing. Sales, customer service, human resources… you name it. People want things the way they want it and it doesn’t always (or ever) align with the way a business wants to deliver it.
Delivering “the Pitch” to Leadership
Here are (at least) nine things you need to be able to clearly communicate to get leadership to support inbound marketing. These may not need to be delivered all at once but, chances are, they will need to be delivered.
Start with Education
Help the leadership team fully comprehend what inbound is, why you believe in it, and how it will change the business. Use statistics and case studies if necessary (and try to use case studies relevant to your industry). If possible, emphasize why the company needs to change. For example, are sales increasing like they used to? Is customer retention as high as it used to be? Is the company losing market share to a competitor? Whatever current challenges facing the company, explain how inbound can help combat those challenges.
Clearly-Defined, Measurable Goals and Objectives
For large initiatives like this, a lot of thought needs to be put into planning SMART goals. Without them, business leaders aren’t going to have faith in your ideas.
Explain exactly how you plan to structure your team to manage inbound and stay on track. Remember to include one person that “owns” the full initiative along with other roles and the importance of each.
Company Team Roles
This is a company-wide initiative and requires adoption across all employees. Explain what will be required from teams across the company (and how the business will benefit from those efforts). Include all teams: sales, service, finance, IT, R&D… everyone will have a part to play.
Bring examples and proof. Visuals are always helpful, especially for anyone not in marketing or at least not up-to-date on current marketing trends.
Sure, list all the benefits of inbound. But also detail the risks and how you plan to address each one.
Estimated Cost & ROI
Studies show that the cost per lead is much lower with inbound versus outbound. But there is still a cost. Be ready to deliver an estimated cost for the transition (and potential ROI) and be sure to include the cost of using the right tools and changes to your marketing team, if necessary. If budgets are tight, consider starting small. Start by creating one new piece of valuable content, publish some blog posts to encourage people to download your content and then announce your new message through social media. Test your numbers to see what a very small (and new) effort can do and share that with the powers that be.
New Marketing Metrics
And the biggie… explain how marketing will no longer measure its performance on Twitter followers, number of campaigns, or growth in web traffic. Marketing will be held accountable for its contribution to sales and revenue. <GASP!> They’ll know you’re serious. Let them know just what your team will deliver and how you’ll measure it. You’ll be able to prove ROI, so own your role and your team’s capabilities. As much as that makes you uncomfortable saying (or even reading) this, once you believe inbound methodology will allow marketing to fulfill on this promise, they will believe you.
Timeline and Recommended Next Steps
Include a rough timeline of progress and milestones including when you might begin to see results (be honest… without paid ads, significant results may take months, but when inbound is done right, results will come).
It’s a lot of work, yes. But even if you’re not trying to pitch the leadership team to support inbound marketing, these exercises need to be done for your benefit. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting into, why you’re doing it, how you’re going to do it and how you’ll know it’s successful.
It’s not a matter of convincing business leaders, it’s about proving the value and the impact inbound will have on the company. Inbound doesn’t just help drive more traffic, more leads, more sales. If done right, following the inbound methodology can change the way your business operates and the way your customers view your company.
By incorporating inbound into the foundation of your company’s core beliefs, inbound can change the way your employees work, the impact each of your employees have on the business and the trust your industry has in your company. Who wouldn’t want that?
If you need help convincing your leadership team to support inbound marketing, download our free guide. It's full of ideas for how you can make your next inbound marketing campaign a success.