In both the martial arts and Inbound marketing, there are many desirable traits that assist in achieving success; such as discipline, knowledge and confidence. Along with these noble character traits, there are several habits, or processes, that will also help you to achieve your goal — be that to grow your business using Inbound Marketing or earn a Black Belt. In this post, my daughter’s (Savannah) quest for a Black Belt will help to identify these processes and how they can help you reach the pinnacle of Inbound Marketing (OK, “pinnacle” may be a bit much, how about greatly improve your current marketing results).
Do Your Groundwork and Plan Your Strategy
Like the old adage “Plan your work, and work your plan,” you’ll get a lot further, more quickly, with some prep work and a plan. A solid strategy helps to structure your goals and provides a road map to get the results you desire. A clear destination with measurable milestones will keep you on track and greatly improves your chances of being successful. In her goal for a Black Belt, Savannah had a plan that spanned many years with many successive belt tests. With each test she received feedback enabling her to adjust her strategy accordingly and move further along her path.
In martial arts grappling, it often looks like little is actually happening. The reality is that both opponents are working very hard and expending a lot of energy vying for a superior position. It is much like a chess game where each player knows what moves the other can make and is guarding against these while looking for an opportunity. A competitive business faces the same challenge of efficiently using its resources to try and get ahead. Knowing what your goals are and how to achieve them helps you to identify and act on opportunity, as well as threats. In either case, by measuring your progress you can ensure your company continues to move towards its objective.
Knowing what needs to be done isn’t enough. You have to be able to do it, and to do it well. That only comes from a continuous effort — constantly moving yourself closer to your goal. My daughter trained for ten years to qualify for a five-hour test that will ultimately determine if she is ready for her Black Belt. And it is her ten years of effort, not the test alone that truly determines her success.
Online marketing is much the same. It could take a good three months of continuous effort before you start experiencing significant results. With the exception of PPC, Inbound marketing is an organic process that requires consistent and constant activity (blogs, social media posts, on-site SEO, new web content, etc.). Success will come, but only after a little sweat equity — which brings us back to Savannah. She invested buckets of sweat equity (isn’t that a nice picture?) and occasionally some blood and tears too. The point here is, it won’t happen on its own. And even if you have an outside agency running your campaigns, it will still demand some of your time. Inbound Marketing involves a strategy of good content generation and social media usage — if your leadership is important to the company, then your input will be equally as important in the information and “voice” used to represent your company online. So, ensure that you have sufficient resources (budget and staff) to work your plan effectively.
There is a Japanese philosophy called Kaizen (continuous improvement) which the North American manufacturing industry took to heart in the late 80s and 90s. Essentially it advocates putting in place constant measuring of activities with ongoing fine-tuning to make each process run as efficiently as possible. In Savannah’s case she practiced her techniques thousands of times over the years, always getting a little better. Learning from this persistent implementing and analysing, she also created some of her own variations for each technique: tactics that worked particularly well for her (and if she ever truly had to defend herself it might well be one of these customized techniques that saves her). An Inbound Marketing strategy should be run the same way (but with much less kicking and throwing). Ongoing effort and analysis should inform the process going forward, so things keep getting better.
Inbound Marketing involves a myriad of online tactics that, like everything else Internet spawned, is constantly and rapidly evolving. Most companies need some additional knowledge and expertise to properly execute a full Inbound strategy. Fortunately, you have options: you can hire an outside firm, have existing staff trained, implement third-party software solutions (such as HubSpot and HootSuite), or some combination therein. For example, the services we offer are typically customized to complement what the client can provide in-house; and we often provide training to increase the level of participation from their staff.
Some companies are already adept at using social media and only require some strategic guidance and help integrating their social media efforts with their organizational goals and structuring ways to measure results. Other firms may have an effective SEO strategy (which these days should incorporate ongoing content creation), or be well connected and active in several blogging communities. But pretty well any company can be doing better (yes, absolutely that includes us!). With Kaizen in mind, and the Budo (way of the warrior) philosophy of mastering oneself and one’s opponent, getting better at Inbound Marketing tactics will provide better results. Turning to an experienced source for guidance, training and analysis will undoubtedly make your campaigns more successful.
Savannah was fortunate to have several elite martial art instructors who were all concerned with her success. She also had DVDs and books as reference to supplement her training. She armed herself with the tools and support required to help her succeed.
Savannah had a gruelling 5-hour test for her Black Belt. The test is designed to almost break you, bringing you to the brink of your capacity and forcing you to dig deeper and prove to yourself that you can continue, that you can succeed. Fortunately, Inbound Marketing is much easier, and a firm like PROSAR can even do much of the heavy lifting for you. But there will definitely be required work of you (remember the sweat equity?).
One of the attributes of online marketing is that it is an accumulative process that gathers momentum and strength over time. Half-measures won’t cut it. A full commitment is required of each tactic, which means allocating appropriate resources: people, money, time, consulting, training… whatever is needed to make the grade.
Sure it’s work with an ongoing list of tasks and specific goals attached, but that doesn’t mean it has to be tedious. It’s actually quite a thrill to see your list of website visitors and leads grow… sometimes exponentially! It spurs you on to greater success, especially when you start converting those leads into sales.
Savannah shone a smile through practically her entire test — yes, at times it was a grimace of pain and even exasperation, but the enjoyment of what she was doing, of being in control and just having fun was evident.
Savannah aced her test and showed that she has the traits and processes to succeed. Applying these same traits to your Inbound Marketing strategy will put a big smile on your face too! So Grasshopper, are you ready to snatch the pebble from my hand?