Content Strategy

CPD: Learning The HubSpot Inbound Methodology

Last week I went back to school and completed the HubSpot Inbound Certification. I work with an inbound digital agency, Live and Social, who are HubSpot partners and naturally we all need to subscribe to the same inbound methodology.

Having specialised in one area of inbound marketing – business blogging – for approximately six years I was a little worried about taking the exam. What if I’d got it all wrong? What if I’d been telling my clients to do one thing, when they could be getting much better results doing another? What if I didn’t get the necessary 75% pass that’s required, how embarrassing would that be?

Fortunately I can report that I got over 90% with time to spare – phew! The other important thing is that I haven’t been leading my clients astray, a lot of what was covered in the course is stuff I already put into practice. This, I believe, is in part because of my relationship with a number of digital marketing agencies like Live and Social – I benefit from their expertise and working on projects with them and their clients, many of whom also have in-house marketing teams.

What Have I Learnt From HubSpot’s Inbound Methodology?

So what did I get out of watching 265 minutes of video? Well, one of the key things was the importance of getting other aspects of the inbound methodology right to ensure that my part of it has the best chance of working effectively and delivering results.

This is an issue that I think many companies are struggling with – creating an integrated, seamless journey that attracts, converts, and turns leads into customers. Many companies have got bits of this process right, for example they’re creating great blog content that attract prospects to their website, but often they can’t quite get the conversion or closing part right.

From my own experience I think this is because many people don’t understand how inbound works. Only today I had a conversation with someone who is keen to have a company blog but had no idea how it would work or what additional resources would be needed to turn it into lean, mean fighting machine!

This has highlighted for me the importance of educating prospective clients about inbound and where blogging sits in this methodology, so they truly appreciate how a blog works and what other resources are needed to optimise it for success. To this end I will be pointing people in the direction of the Essentials Of An Effective Inbound Strategy, to get an overview. However, I would highly recommend that anyone with ‘marketing or sales’ in their job description watches the rest of the videos in this course.

Aligning Sales With Inbound

My other key takeaway from the course was the need to align sales and marketing so the two teams work together with a common goal. While the vast majority of my clients do not have sales teams as such – it’s more likely that senior directors or consultants fulfill this function – even in small businesses there is often a gap between the marketing function and the sales function.

One of the questions I ask clients is ‘what content do you need to make your job easier?’ In terms of selling this might be a specific question they get asked in the decision making phase of the marketing / sales journey. Or there are common friction points that potential customers have, such as the time it takes to implement a new service, or the cost of that product or service. These friction points can be addressed in the form of content that can be shared with customers.

This content doesn’t replace the sales call. Instead it becomes an asset that can be used to enhance the sales process, helping leads make the right decision. Having this content enables sales to deliver value and help potential customers, it’s a powerful tool for closing a sale.

Even in small teams where the relationship between sales and marketing is more blurred, I find people forget that inbound content can be used throughout the marketing to sales process; that closing the deal isn’t necessarily just about having case studies, product specifications, and other ‘sales’ content, but could just as well be about having a well placed blog post that provides leads with answers or reassurance just when they need it.

Less Broadcasting More Helping

The other lesson that sales and marketing teams need to learn is that content can be shared in a multitude of ways. You may have a strategy of sharing blog posts on social media and email campaigns, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used in more proactive ways. When content is used in this way it becomes less about broadcasting and more about helping your leads. For example, when a lead identifies a friction point that they or their organisation has, a link shared in a personal email to a relevant blog post provides an ideal follow up. However, these opportunities are often missed because sales teams aren’t aware of the content that’s available to them.

The answer is to have better communications between those people who do sales, and those that do marketing. Ensuring that sales know what content marketing are creating for them and what it can do for them. At the same time marketing needs feedback so they can align content with the sales teams’ needs.

So what will I be doing differently now I’ve got my HubSpot Inbound Certification? I think my main focus will be on understanding the marketing to sales processes my clients currently use and to help them apply the inbound methodology to existing systems. I know that it many cases getting buy in from the whole team will be a challenge, but there are ways we all work together to ensure that content such as blog posts become assets for both sales and marketing.

If you would like to discuss how to apply this methodology to your business, please get in touch. Even better take the certification yourself so you can see how it can be used effectively, and then get in touch!

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