The Strategic Business Blog

#1 Reason Why Your Inbound Marketing Efforts Are Failing

Posted by Chris Nesbitt

Inbound Marketing is a fairly new marketing strategy for most businesses and many of their inbound marketing efforts are failing to produce the results they should produce. Over the past couple years, many phenomenal articles have been written on the reasons why a business is failing at their inbound marketing efforts. Some have been focused on the mechanical reasons, covering inbound marketing tactics. Others have been focused on more strategic aspects of inbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing StrategyI propose that all of these reasons for a business not getting the results they want from their inbound marketing efforts ultimately come down to 1 overarching problem…one that effects all aspects of a business…beyond inbound marketing…beyond the marketing and sales department.

Before getting to the #1 overarching reason why your inbound marketing efforts are failing, let’s review some of the accurate reasons discussed here by other inbound marketing experts in the last 12 months:

  1. May 2011, 12 months ago, in 7 Reasons Why Your Inbound Marketing is Failing, Chad Pollitt of Kuno Creative discussed some of the tactical (or, mechanical) reasons, dealing with issues such as not publishing enough relevant content, not marketing the content effectively, no lead nurturing, and spending too much time on SEO.
  2. A few weeks after Chad’s article, John McTigue also of Kuno Creative published a follow up article, 5 Key Reasons Why Your Inbound Marketing is Failing, discussing strategic issues that are often overlooked such as not having the best goal for your efforts, not utilizing closed-loop marketing (integrated with your sales process), too much emphasis on metrics (the wrong ones), forgetting about your customers after your project with them is complete, and one more you’ll have to read the article for.
  3. 8 months later, on January 31, 2012, Chad Pollitt presented a great case for Inbound Marketing IS the New SEO – Facts, Figures & Data. This presentation backed up what was discussed on the 2 articles we just discussed. To date, there have been over 50,000 views for the slides on SlideShare. Douglas Karr (of the Marketing Tech Blog & President of DK Media) stated, “Fantastic presentation on the changing landscape of search optimization and content marketing.” Those who do not understand the evidence that content marketing is more important than technical seo will fail to achieve the inbound marketing results they should experience.
  4. There are other inbound marketing experts who have discussed the same topic. From what I’ve seen, they all seem to discuss the same aspects that Chad and John discussed in the above mentioned content.

I know from personal experience that Chad, John and the Kuno Creative team are Inbound Marketing experts who know and apply what they are talking about. Over the past 10 years of working as a strategic business advisor with small to mid-sized businesses, I have had a unique opportunity to notice that the majority of all business problems and failure come down to one overarching problem. Inbound marketing failure in a business comes down to this one overarching problem as well.

The #1 Reason Why Your Inbound Marketing Efforts Are Failing Is:

Your business is not being Strategic by Design

Most small to mid-sized businesses evolve over time. They are not Strategic by Design, not designed with certain parameters and results in mind. This business evolution is typically detrimental and keeps a business from accomplishing their goals. So, what does it mean to be Strategic by Design?

The Elements of Being Strategic by Design:

  • An Overall Business Strategy and Direction – The business has a strategic plan that acts as a roadmap by which all aspects of the business will operate in order to achieve the business goals. How is your inbound marketing strategy integrated into your overall business strategy? If an inbound marketing strategy is not properly integrated and aligned with your overall business strategy, the results will not be optimal.
  • All Processes, Systems and Procedures are Designed with the Overall Business Strategy in Mind – If not, the business will be less likely to accomplish its goals. How are your inbound marketing processes and tactics integrated into your entire business operation? Is inbound marketing only viewed as one way to improve your brand reach and develop more leads? Or, are your inbound marketing processes and tactics an integral part of your sales process, product and service delivery, and operational processes?
  • The People Must Follow the Business Strategy and Processes – When everyone in the boat rows in line with each other (in the same direction and at the same pace), they reach the finish line the fastest. Are the inbound marketers, outbound marketers and sales people at your business competing for recognition or personal credit for how a lead was created or a sale was made? Or, are they fighting to work as a team, understanding that when aligned and integrated, they will accomplish much greater results?
  • Strategic Business Tools – Your business needs to have well integrated strategic tools to assist the people (employees) in following through with the processes to accomplish the overall business strategy more effectively and efficiently. Many times, a business will have great software but are not using it properly. It’s not the software’s fault the business isn’t being Strategic by Design!
  • Measure and Monitor Key Metrics and Results – By measuring and monitoring, your business will be able to track how effective it is being at every level in accomplishing your overall business strategy. You will make discoveries that will lead you to understand that certain tactics are more effective than others to accomplish certain goals. A prime example of this is how Chad Pollitt and Kuno Creative determined that “Inbound Marketing is the New SEO”. You’ll notice that in the title of his presentation, Chad put “Facts, Figures, & Data” and used the data that was measured and monitored to come to his conclusion.

In summary, being Strategic by Design comes down to making sure all aspects of your business are strategically aligned and focused on accomplishing an overall business strategy. When an inbound marketing strategy is a part of the overall business strategy, optimal results occur.

How Strategic by Design is your business? What are your thoughts? Agree, disagree, anything to add…?


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Chris Nesbitt is a small business consultant and managing partner of Strategic Business Directs. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Google+.


Topics: Strategic by Design, Inbound Marketing and Sales, inbound marketing, Inbound Marketing Failure