Is Inbound Marketing effective for a start-up or should I start cold calling? In a recent online post I was asked,” When starting a new business and trying to generate qualified leads, are there any tricks when you are cold calling or is it purely just a numbers game”? This is a common question, especially from start-ups with limited budgets or no history of marketing.
Consider this perspective…
As a start up you are an unknown entity… and you have little to no track record… and no doubt you have a story to tell but who is going to take the time out of their time impoverished lives to listen to it just because you called?
What You Really Need
You really need a well designed, carefully executed marketing plan and if you don’t have the capital to invest in a diverse, sustainable campaign (I’d usually suggest an inbound marketing deployment but didn’t yet know his business well enough) then guerrilla tactics and networking are the best and most efficient use of your most precious asset- your time.
Cold calling is frustrating for the parties at both ends of the line. If you are inexperienced at it you’ll eventually quit doing it out of anxiety and lack of results. We published an article a while back that dives into this environment, and you can read it here.
However a properly executed inbound marketing plan can make every call a warm one, can drive leads and prospects to you (instead of the other way around) and doesn’t have to break the bank to deploy. It does take time so we would plan to align it alongside some guerrilla and networking tactics as the business scales upward.
For startups with little or no capital is it still possible to create an effective inbound marketing plan? Is the time preparing the inbound marketing resources really more profitable than the older traditional methods of networking, emailing, mailing and phoning?
There is a substantial difference between a properly crafted inbound campaign and more traditional approaches- it is the sustainability of what you are creating.
With an Inbound Marketing campaign you are sharing insightful information, insights, case studies, white papers and people who have an interest in what you are publishing are seeing this. Talk about a win-win! Your story or message aligns with the interest of an audience.
But there’s more! Because it can be used, and re-used, over time the investment you make in developing your inbound marketing content can also prove effective as part of an outbound marketing process as well.
A properly crafted inbound marketing plan does not have to be overly costly. We realize that not every business can justify the robust functionality of a top of the line, integrated inbound marketing platform (we use and recommend Hubspot®). But much of the knowledge and tactics we have learned working through these advanced platforms can be transferred to smaller businesses.
Here is a Great Example
Every sales professional who has ever been on a sales call, facing a tidy, fastidious, risk-averse introvert quickly realizes it will never be a one-call close. They also know the importance of a quality “leave behind”. So a great looking folder or press kit containing some of the inbound marketing content you’ve created for your website and blog is vital. For our clients we often include a page of testimonials, some advertising or direct mail proofs, maybe even some product information… but always with a few salient articles we have previously posted.
And almost universally we find the prospect then goes to our website to read more of our articles.
LinkedIn® users – this is an especially effective outbound activity when performed in conjunction with LinkedIn® groups. You can build your brand equity, enhance the awareness in your products/services, and drive a lot of new website traffic by sharing your posts on group pages.
Is Inbound Marketing Effective for a Start-Up or Should I Start Cold Calling? Here is a Test…
At workshops that I host I often ask this line of questions to the audience –
- Tell me the name of the salesman, product or brand of the last cold call you were too busy to take in the last two weeks?
- Did you (could you?) share that with others in your office or professional network?
For that matter, please tell me –
- When was the last product or service you actually bought as a result of a cold call?
- When was the last product or service you actually bought as the result of a television commercial?
- When was the last product or service you actually bought as the result of a memorable banner ad?
Very seldom do I see a raised hand.
The Best Marketers Know Successful Sales Are Largely About Understanding Behavior
Given the behavior preferences of successful decision makers, and the challenge of managing their time and work load, it is easy to see understand why playing the numbers game of cold calling is losing its effectiveness. Sure cold calling is an expected method in certain industries and there will always be a “sales guy” who swears by its use, but that is an old paradigm in an evolving and ever-changing society.
Sure, Marketing requires an investment in time, talent, and treasure, but there but it is also arguably a better investment over the long haul. It is sustainable, measurable, flexible, and effective.
Our company has helped many start-ups expand their brand awareness and achieve their goals. Perhaps you know a start-up that would be open to speaking sometime?
But just don’t have them call…