Marketing Lessons Learned from Buying the Wrong Play-Doh

A few days ago, Janice wanted to give our young grandchildren their first experience with Play-Doh. She came home with a new toy called Play-Doh Touch.

Our last encounter with Play-Doh was, let’s just say, a few miles ago. My memories were that it came in soup-sized cans, smelled great, tasted awful, and hardened into a type of mortar that you could build bomb shelters out of if you forgot to put it away and store it properly.

I think that’s what Janice remembered too.

But when she got home she discovered that instead of cans of Play-Doh and some plastic molds of sea critters, she had actually purchased a digitally enabled Play-Doh ecosystem. Making this toy work required a smart phone, downloading an app, a scan of what was constructed, and instructions on how to interact with an online Play-Doh digitized critter to get the full experience.

And instead of big soup cans of Play-Doh, the containers had shrunk to the size of the blue cheese containers that come with an order of Buffalo chicken wings. On the positive side, they still smelled great and truth be told, tasted bad.

Wow. Talk about a gap between what we expected to buy and what we purchased!

Avoiding a Disappointing Gap When Purchasing an Inbound Marketing Ecosystem

That experience was the inspiration for this blog post as we are hearing – and experiencing – stories of firms purchasing inbound marketing software and services without knowing or understanding what they bought.

I believe that one of the key reason that firms – and their agencies – fail with an investment in inbound marketing is largely due to owners not really understanding what they purchased. They don’t know or understand what’s required of them to make their purchase deliver the ROI they were told to expect. It’s also a failure of the agency because it’s their responsibility to make sure that everyone is on the same page, even before getting to a signed contract.

I also believe that owners expect that inbound marketing will be some sort of magic bullet when in fact, there’s no such thing as a magic marketing bullet. The magic comes in the form of hard work, commitment and investment, and then you’ll see more visibility, leads and new business appear.

PREMIUM CONTENT: August US Jobs Report

Before You Sign a Contract for Inbound Marketing

If you are thinking about investing in inbound marketing here’s 10 considerations you might want to mull over before signing a contract or writing a check:

  • Engaged, committed, owners are the single most important key to success. If you can’t commit and understand the depth and scope of that commitment, don’t go inbounding.
  • Understand that inbound marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, and could require six months or more before results come in. In the meantime, you’ll want to continue “business as usual” until you’re ready to flip the switch and make the integration happen.
  • Your firm needs to tap a dedicated internal point person to work with your inbound marketing agency: Four to six hours per week, scaling up as investment pays off. That four to six hours includes social media chores.
  • A strong content management, development, and production program is necessary … owners, managers, recruiters, and other subject matter experts need to step up to the plate in ways they may not have ever had to do before and come to the table with thought leadership that can be published in blogs, articles, videos and more.
  • In addition to content, there’s a critical mass of other moving parts that are fundamental to making inbound marketing pay off – things like lead generation strategies and tactics, marketing automation tools and technologies, sales enablement infrastructure and a lot more are all part of what you’ve purchased and need to buy into.
  • Inbound marketing works best when integrated with other marketing and business development activities – it’s not a standalone or a replacement. It needs to work with your outbound marketing initiatives. It needs to work with your referral and networking activities. And since referrals probably account for ¾ or more of your business, you need to put plays into place for using inbound marketing to help close more sales, faster.
  • Your chances to be successful will be significantly greater if you start with strategy and planning, rather than coming to the plate swinging for the fences right away. Putting together a strategic marketing plan that includes an inbound marketing component could take 3 months or more … and patience.
  • Inbound marketing is built on devotion to metrics … this changes the scope of marketing from being a cost center to being a revenue center. If you’re not willing to pay attention to business development KPIs, don’t go inbounding.
  • You need to get your marketing and sales team on the same page and working out the same playbook, otherwise marketing will not be able to deliver quality leads and sales won’t have the right tools to close those qualified leads
  • You will need marketing technology like HubSpot to make inbound marketing work.

Can Staffing and Recruiting Agencies Just Skip This Whole Inbound Marketing Thing?

In word … NO.

The genie of digital marketing can’t be put back in the bottle, and you ignore or underplay it at your own peril. But you can do inbound marketing the right way, for a reasonable investment, in a manner that complements all of the other ways you’re marketing your firm.

My point here is read the packaging and know what you’re buying. Visit a few blogs. Watch a few videos. Ask why questions. Ask how questions. Get curious. See it in action.

Don’t be thinking “cans” and end up buying an interactive online character. It’s tough to take a contract back to the store.

If you need assistance, connect with us or give me a call. LeadG2 can help you put together an inbound marketing and sales enablement program that’s right for your firm.

MORE: Does Inbound Marketing Make Sense for Your Staffing Agency or Recruiting Firm?

Alan Vitberg

Alan Vitberg
Alan Vitberg is executive director of LeadG2’s professional services team. You can reach him at (585) 750-8258 or via email at alanvitberg (at) csscenter (dot) com. Visit LeadG2’s website for its marketing and sales blog.

Alan Vitberg

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