To some people, a strategy is simply about goal setting, a sort of happy-clappy love in where people agree to conquer the world. They believe if they set a BHAG or big hairy audacious goal it somehow means it will, by osmosis or something, happen. This is flawed thinking when it comes to strategic planning and as inbound marketing is a strategic activity, it's the wrong way to go about that too.
We Need More Website Visitors
When it comes to inbound marketing or web-based lead generation, stating you need more website visitors is not a strategy. It's nothing more than stating the obvious, because more visitors is, in most cases, what any business needs if they want to get more customers via their websites'. Needing more website visitors is nothing more than a diagnosis of the problem.
The Process an Inbound Marketing Strategy Should Follow
Like any good strategy, an inbound marketing plan of attack needs to diagnose the problem, create some guiding policies and from there a set of cohesive actions. Each stage is vital, the absence of diagnoses means you can't create your guiding policies and without guiding policies, you have no way of developing your cohesive actions. It's basic stuff yet so many people jump straight into actions in a hit or miss and meaningless way. Sure, just like a stopped clock is right twice a day, you might get lucky, but it's unlikely.
So here's what it should look like.
With inbound marketing, the diagnosis revolves around understanding your customers and your competition. You need to understand who your ideal customers are, the problems they're trying to solve, where they look for information and what search phrases they use in search engines. You also need to scan your competition to establish the competitive landscape you're operating in.
This is your overall approach to solving the problems you've diagnosed. In the inbound world, this means content creation including blogs, white papers, e-books, videos etc.
This is the all-important part of the inbound strategy that attracts people to your website. It's the day to day content creation, monitoring, managing and adapting that inbound agencies like us do every day for our clients.
What Are You Going To Do?
In a recent blog post, we created a small business guide to inbound marketing. It's a DIY approach to turning your website into a customer magnet and if you follow it you will, in six to nine months, start to see some results, SOME results. It's not quick and it's hard work, but the only alternative is to get frustrated and angry, as Mike Lieberman wrote about in a recent blog post.
Think of it like getting fit to run a marathon, that first training run might only be 3 miles and it might take you an hour but once you've started you're a little bit closer to your goal.