Last year, we lost a client to the marketing hot tub time machine. They didn’t quite go back to the ‘80s, but in Internet years, it may as well have been.
They abandoned their inbound marketing. This is the one program that got them more visitors, leads and page one rankings than ever before. It’s also the one that paid for our services many times over with resulting sales.
It wasn’t anything we did or didn’t do. The CEO brought in a new executive who had other ideas about how to grow the business. Unfortunately for us and them, inbound didn’t make the cut. Since then, they’ve pulled the plug on all things inbound and are trying to develop a partner program.
Maybe this decision will pay off for them. But here’s why it might not.
Remember when your company relied on referrals to grow the business. “Endless referrals” is a great concept, but you’re not going to grow your business on this alone. The number one reason I hear, from marketing executives and business owners, about why they’re interested in inbound marketing is: “my referrals have dried up.”
The same premise is true with inbound. It’s still new to a lot of businesses. It gets results, but it’s the not the only thing you should have in your tool box. Just as you shouldn’t rely solely on outbound tactics such as cold calling, purchased email lists, tradeshows, et al.
I also wouldn’t trust a partner, reseller or affiliate program to do the majority of the work for you. Why would you put your company’s fate in the hands of people who don’t work directly for you? And, offering companies the opportunity to resell your awesome solution is not enough. Resellers have many vendors competing for their attention—they’re going to go with the ones who can offer them more (qualified leads, educational content, social presence) than just margins.
Instead, build your partner program in conjunction with inbound marketing and outbound tactics so they all complement each other, and work harder for you as a team. The many ways to do this are the topic for another post (or 5).
In a Demand Metric survey of primarily SMB B2Bs, 84% agreed that both inbound and outbound together drove the business. Further that both approaches produced nearly the same annual revenue.
I recently asked my 18-year-old niece if she could imagine what it would be like without the Internet. She looked at me like I offered her a raw onion for dessert, then smiled and said, “No!”. It was rhetorical of course.
Now, I can’t imagine doing business without looking at a bright screen, tapping the keyboard and subconsciously analyzing every website I come across.
No doubt in 30, 40, or 50 years, we will be doing business differently than we are now. But in the meantime, no amount of trade shows, cold calls, radio ads, commercials, and reselling partners can alone grow a B2B business year after year.
That’s not the world we live in.
The long forgotten “Roaring 20s” President Calvin Coolidge once said, “The business of the American people is business.” I say the Internet is the business of the American people.
Closing a B2B sale still requires (usually) a breathing salesperson, but there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes before they even utter a word to a prospect: like research.
The studies vary on research but let’s just say that before a prospect becomes a buyer, they’re hitting Google. And to be found is to be given an opportunity you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Why not earn that opportunity.
If you haven’t invested in a content marketing and SEO strategy, buyer personas, lead generation, blogging, social media, a marketing automation platform and other essential aspects of inbound, you’re missing out.
Around the same time we lost this client, a new client came on board. Ironically, this client has roughly the same sales model and is also in a B2B technology vertical. They have a partner program and also know that a competitive online presence is just as important.