You’ve bought into inbound marketing and you’ve invested in Hubspot to deliver it and now you want the results it promised. The chances are that you’re doing more activities, but those activities aren’t generating the results you’d hoped for.
In this post I’m going to share some of the key lessons that I’ve learned from generating over £200 million in growth from the inbound strategies that I’ve implemented for over 100 small and medium sized businesses.
Activities make you busy, they don’t make you rich
There are so many channels available to spread your message and so much advice showing you how you can do it, that you could spend every waking hour just trying to keep up.
When you want to follow an inbound marketing approach, you’ll have added lots more to your marketing and sales to do list. Blogging, social media, video, sales sequences, lead nurturing - the list goes on.
There is one thing for sure, it’ll keep you busy. You’re not reading this to be busier, you’re reading this to get results. And the way to get results is to spend your time building assets.
Too much of the advice out there is focused on activities. That’s why you can find yourself getting busier and busier without a direct connection to results.
Most of us believe that if you work hard, you’ll get results. That’s why we set targets to write more blog posts, post more on social media, make more sales calls and have more meetings.
The trouble with this activity based approach is that there is a direct link with your time. To get more results, you have to put in more time or spend more money.
It’s even the same with advertising channels like Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising. They can generate great results without a lot of time invested, but if you want more results you need to keep spending more money. There’s a direct link between results and money spent.
To get sustainable and profitable results you need to break the direct link between the money and time you’re investing and the results you’re generating.
Focus on building assets that provide your customers with value
When you dig behind all the advice to get busier, you’ll see that every person and brand that’s actually getting great results is built on assets.
The secret to sustainable results is to build assets that provide your ideal customers with high value.
The good news is that it’s not a big change to focus on building assets. Nearly every marketing and sales activity can have an asset associated with it, or be converted into an asset when done in the right way.
The difference between an activity and an asset is that when you’ve created it, it’ll keep creating value for you because it creates value for your customers. If it stops creating value for your customers, it’ll stop creating value for you.
That’s why the key to creating marketing and sales assets is not to focus on the value that they’ll create for you, but to focus on the value that they’ll create for your customers. If anything that you create doesn’t provide enough value to your ideal customers, it’ll be much less of an asset for your business.
How to switch from activity based thinking to assets based thinking
Many traditional measures of marketing and sales inputs are focused on activity based metrics like:
- Website visits
- Blog posts published
- Social media posts
- Sales calls made
- Sales meetings held
Focusing on input based metrics is important, as you want to make sure that you’re doing enough of the right things to get the results that you want. The trouble with these metrics is that they lead you down the path of focusing on activities rather than assets.
You want to change your thinking to focus on the creation of assets. I’m going to use the example of a common marketing activity - a blog post.
Activity based thinking for a blog post
- Target to write one blog post a week
- Promote the blog post 3 times on social media
- Keep your website up to date
- Keep your customers up to date with what we are doing and selling
- Promote what you are selling
Asset based thinking for a blog post
- Answer an important question that your ideal customers have
- Identify and optimise the post for search terms they will be using
- Write the post so that it contains a number of quotes that you can use
- Write the post using a structure and format you can test
- Align the post with a next step your ideal customers can take
- Write the post to attract ideal prospects and to be useful to existing ideal customers
It’s the same activity - a blog post, but approached in two very different ways. I’m sure you can see the benefits that will come from following the asset based approach, here my top 3 benefits of this approach:
- Assets provides more value to your ideal customers
- A similar level of effort, creates lasting value
- You can keep improving your assets
Creating assets makes the activities easier
Even with an asset based approach there are still plenty of activities to complete in marketing and sales, but they’ll be a lot easier when you’re creating assets. Why? Because you’ve broken the direct link between activity and results.
Using the blog post example above you can be confident that all the activities you invest in will strengthen the asset that you’ve created, increasing the results that the asset generates for you.
You’ve created the asset to provide value to your ideal customers. And now that you’re treating that post as an asset, when you identify a way to improve it you’ll be happy to make that improvement.
Compare that with a post that you’ve created just to hit your activity target of posting once a week. The chances are that you’ll never look at that post you’ve written again, let alone return to it many times in the future to improve it and promote it again.
Each time you promote a blog post asset you’ve created, you’re increasing the chances that one of your ideal prospects will read it and get value from it. When they do, they’ll be more likely to know, like and trust your brand.
You’ve created that post as an asset to rank in search engines, to be used in your lead nurturing and email newsletters. You’ve aligned it with your next step call to action and you’ve written it to include plenty of quotes that can be shared on social media.
Because the post answers an important question that your ideal prospects and customers have, you’ll keep track of how it performs and you’ll identify ways that you can improve it in the future.
You’ve created an asset that makes all of your activities easier, an asset that will get you better and better results over time.
The most valuable brands are the ones that provide the most value to their customers
It’s now no longer enough to say that you’re customer focused or even customer centric; your customers expect you to be customer obsessed.
Many of your customers will know as much about your market as you do, or at least they think they do. They have all the information at their fingertips and they’re sharing it with each other. They’re sharing how well your product or service works, how good it is and whether it’s good value for money or not.
To thrive in this world, you have to obsess over the value you provide to your customers. It isn’t enough to say that you’re customer focused on your website, you have to deliver for them.
The biggest and most successful businesses in the world, like Amazon, are customer obsessed and they’re setting your customers’ expectations.
I believe that in this customer obsessed world it’s essential to deliver value to your ideal customers at every interaction they have with you.
A simple way to ensure you’re doing this, is to focus on building marketing and sales assets that provide value to your ideal customers, as they move through their customer journey with you.
The value you create is more important than the money you make
Your customers don’t care how much money you are making. They only care about the value that you’re providing to them.
That’s why business objectives to increase sales, revenue, profit, brand awareness and market share are dangerous metrics to focus on, because that they’re all self obsessed. Your customers don’t care about any of those metrics.
Instead focus on how you can create more value for your customers. When you understand your ideal customers better than anyone else, you’ll understand how you can provide them with more value than anyone else.
When you create assets to provide your ideal customers with more value than anyone else, the money will follow. Instead of measuring yourself against self-obsessed metrics, set yourself metrics that help you to measure and understand the value you are providing to your customers.
Build a marketing and sales pipeline you are completely confident with
When you build customer obsessed marketing and sales assets, to provide your ideal customers with value at every touch point they have with you, you’ll naturally stand out in your market.
Only the best and truly customer obsessed brands actually deliver on this.
By following this approach, you’ll see the value that you are creating will attract more ideal customers to your brand. The results that you want will flow naturally. The activities will take less effort and you’ll build a marketing and sales pipeline that you can be completely confident with, because your customers love being a part of it.