Start Inbound Marketing with a Strategic Inbound Plan

By Scott Anderson Miller

Everything worth doing in business deserves to start with a plan. Online marketing and inbound marketing are no exceptions. Your inbound marketing strategy answers why, what, and how: Why you’re doing what you’re doing, what you’re aiming to do, and how to get it done.

Big successes come from big plans that are written and executed with business objectives in mind. Your strategic plan provides solid, data-driven rationales for choosing your marketing recommendations while identifying and outlining how to achieve your goals and objectives. The objectives you set forth in your plan include specific, measurable success markers and identify the tactical tools you will use to attain these milestones.

As with any successful business strategy, your inbound marketing strategy

  • Begins with desired business outcomes/results in mind

  • Answers why you’re performing your recommended marketing initiatives

  • Provides written direction for future initiatives

  • Prioritizes initiatives so your team differentiates the critical ones from the optional ones

  • Provides a documented, shared performance platform for measuring and reporting marketing success as it pertains to achieving business outcomes

  • Results in more efficient allocation of time and resources

  • Connects financial budgets with revenue/profit goals

Inbound marketing strategy was rarely discussed on the Internet or in marketing circles until a few years ago. Today, exceptional online success requires an inbound marketing strategy. The shift to attracting new clients and customers through inbound means (as opposed to outbound ones) is a genuine one. A documented strategy can help you compete by garnering a larger market share and growing sales on- and offline. Your inbound strategy is a plan to connect with those people early and often.

Often, companies buy in to a strategy based on creative ideas which is backwards. Strategy occurs for the wrong reason with little or no measurable business metrics so the business problems at hand go unsolved. Approaching strategy from the point of creative tactics rather than over-arching business goals is a fallacy and one reason many in the C-suite maintain a certain mistrust of marketing types and why the average ad agency/client relationship is less than two years.

As a marketer, you can diminish this mistrust by applying inbound marketing to solve business problems rather than marketing problems. Inbound marketing’s inherent accountability, transparency, and ongoing measurement of success factors elevates the position of marketing within a company.

So why is it that so many organizations fail to begin with inbound strategy? A formal written strategic inbound plan takes time to develop and implement. Some organizations lack the capacity or the expertise to write their own plans. More often, they have a culture of “doing” rather than “thinking.” Typically, these companies reward production and the completion of tasks, regardless of those tasks’ contribution to the goal. It’s easier and quicker just to start doing something. You look like you’re busy, and you are, but you’re probably working on the wrong tasks, tasks that won’t affect the business goals in any meaningful way.

Some organizations, especially small- to mid-sized companies, fail to allocate budgets for strategic planning. It’s not cheap to engage the help of a qualified, objective professional. Plus, it takes time to find a viable consultant or inbound marketing firm partner to complement your team and to satisfy your unique needs.

Commonly, the short answers for why organizations don’t have an inbound marketing plan are time and money. Nonsense. Here are some common culprits for the absence of a strategic inbound plan at companies:

  • Short-term vision and culture

  • Lack of organization

  • Lack of accountability

  • Lack of responsibility

  • Lack of transparency

  • Perceived lack of time