The VPM Blog

There are no "Hacks" in Inbound Marketing

Posted by Don Crow on May 19, 2016 7:00:00 AM

What do we mean by "Hack" in this sense....Hacking might be characterized as ‘an appropriate application of ingenuity’. Whether the result is a quick-and-dirty patchwork job or a carefully crafted work of art, you have to admire the cleverness that went into it.

I’m going to offer you a, “blog hack” right now that will save you from having to read this entire post: there are no shortcuts in a well-defined inbound marketing strategy. There is however, using the explanation above, a lot of ingenuity and cleverness going on behind the scenes.

Done.

That’s right, there are no hacks in Inbound Marketing. 

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In a world gone crazy with the term, “hack,” and the concept of legal shortcuts, it seems like a kiss of death to lead off a blog post with the newsflash that there are no hacks in inbound marketing. I mean, wouldn’t we rather tell you a way to design, build, launch and refine an inbound marketing strategy that delivers results by the truckload in a flash?

Of course we would. But I also wish my statue was outside Jordan-Hare Stadium on Heisman row.

Inbound marketing isn’t for everyone. It’s a movement we’ve well documented here at Verge Pipe Media because our agency was once nothing more than a blog seeking to connect with other like-minded marketing professionals. One good thing led to a greater thing and here we are today, an agile shop helping transform the digital naïve into digital natives. Along the way, we’ve amassed some best practices and common themes from the organizations who successfully implement inbound.

In my mind there are three key differences between the businesses that use inbound marketing to their advantage and those that don’t.

  1. Commitment. Every member of the organization has to go ‘all in’ on Inbound.
  2. Stamina. Setting up a well-defined inbound marketing strategy means you’ve got to be able to sprint for a sizeable distance at the beginning and then settle into a well-paced jaunt once you’re out into the wild. Be prepared to spring again when new intelligence or changes in market condition warrant.
  3. Competitive. You have something which is a considered purchase, you have tons of competitors, and you rely on the web to generate awareness, leads and sales. We’ve written more about our Inbound Marketing Strategy at VPM for you to read later.

But why is ‘hacking’ everything suddenly so popular when the term hack was once associated with poor quality shortcuts or, the pissed off teenager with purple hair who got into the Pentagon computers on a dare?

Because it got redefined as a way to give people back more time and to be more efficient. We've now got our attention spread across so many mediums, we think we need "hacks" to get our time back.

From there, it’s taken on a life of its own and become synonymous with being super-efficient. Sales people are looking for hacks, moms are looking for hacks, marketers are looking for hacks and if you are here, you’re looking for a hack (possibly).

At issue is the core difference between, (1) sales and, (2) marketing in the inbound movement.

Sales tends to be more immediate. It’s a transaction. It’s you exchanging something of value for something else of value. Some people consider the sale the end of the line. Not inbound marketing! That’s the opportunity to continue learning more about your customer and to delight them and turn them into brand ambassadors.

Marketing tends to be more long term. It’s the constant communication of value, which if done properly over time, builds not only awareness, but trust as well as the transaction. You learn about Verge Pipe Media by searching for answers on Snapchat geofilters and reading our blog. You like it because it’s helpful information and so you read our other two recent posts on Snapchat. Then you sign up for our newsletter and over a period of time receiving quality content direct to your inbox, you decide to engage us for work. That’s inbound marketing at work.

Because of these two views, many business owners place a disproportionate amount of energy behind sales. It’s quick, it’s immediate, it’s cash flow. There’s no arguing or denying the importance of sales AND cash flow. But sales become tricky in the world of social media and online because it’s so reliant upon advertising. Advertising, if you don’t know, isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite term. Take for example the advertising practice of, ‘remarketing.’

Remarketing is all the rage right now even though the walk around consumer thinks it’s creepy and is getting annoyed at ads following them around the web at an alarming rate. For example, I’ve already bought my wife a Rose Gold with Lavender band Apple Watch, so please stop showing me those ads everywhere I go online! A proper inbound marketing strategy would be to follow up with me about my purchase via email and then encourage me to fan, follow, or like Apple for potentially even more valuable info.

However, remarketing in the inbound world is a more proactive approach by serving content offers to people who have searched for you, visited your website, but weren’t quite ready to commit and left. In those cases, we would serve that “ad” or content offer to the person in question until they claimed the offer or even a new one. It’s a subtle, but longer term strategy.

You need both, sales and marketing to be effective and we shouldn’t split hairs over my definition of either. What you should take away is that too much reliance on sales and advertising (hacks) online isn’t going to give you a long term solution to sustainably fill your pipeline. Inbound marketing will take more time, true. You’ll have to really dig into your buyer personas and create and manage content that converts. And you’ll have to refine the approach as you go.

We do a lot of, “testing and learning” at Verge Pipe Media but that doesn’t mean we deviate from a proven process. We’ll experiment with content distribution on Snapchat, Instagram and more, but we’ll apply those lessons going forward as part of the Inbound Marketing methodology.

If you know you’re in for the long term and not looking to string together a series of hacks, hit the button below to learn more about running an inbound campaign with our FREE checklist.

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  photo credit: Where we're going, we don't need roads via photopin (license)

Topics: Inbound Marketing

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