The road to mastering inbound marketing has its fair share of speed bumps and turns along the way, but it always leads to the right destination: a more strategic and effective marketing plan. After training, practice, and at times, trial and error, getting to a place where inbound marketing is an inherent process is the goal for any content marketer. When clients jump on board to learn more about how it works, the ride gets even better.
We recently sat down with our client, Jim Beran, Director of Sales for Gilmore Services, experts in the records management and moving industries, to get a closer look at the moment he truly “got” inbound marketing. Here is a look at Gilmore Services' journey from inbound marketing novice to rockstar in nearly two years:
1. What were the original forms of marketing/advertising Gilmore Services used in the past?
We handled most of our marketing and advertising internally using traditional mediums such as Yellow Pages, a company newsletter, paid ads, post cards, and even a telemarketer at one point. We didn’t do any blogging, and we were not very active on social media.
2. What was the overall philosophy/outlook about marketing for the company?
There was no budget set to marketing; there was no plan. It was “let’s try a few different things and see what works.” Our advertising was more focused on telling about the company, like how big the trucks were, where the facility was, not so much about educating the marketplace of what we do and how we can be of value. It's now more educational based, showing how we can solve problems and make your life easier through the services we offer, rather than "here’s our facility and here’s our numbers."
3. What caused Gilmore Services to look beyond current marketing efforts into something else? What was missing?
For the time it worked alright, but to quote Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are a- Changin’”. We noticed a real decrease in how people were finding us. They weren’t going to Yellow Pages, they were going to their computers and we didn’t have a presence to be found there. We needed to increase our online presence.
Computers, tablets and smartphones are platforms that we needed to be found on. We saw that our buyers have changed. They want to do more of their own research, and they don’t want to be sold to. We had to change how we present ourselves and educate them on what we can do to solve heir problems. We wanted to be known as the company they want to buy from, not a company that is going to sell to them.
4. When and how did you first hear about the concept of inbound marketing?
I had heard about the shift in marketing trends and our national tradeshow, about 4 or 5 years ago. Rather than inbound marketing, I was introduced to it as “educational based marketing”. I heard it as providing something of value to your prospects that they can use in their day-to-day business and making yourself the perceived expert in your marketplace, so when they need your services they know who to go to.
5. When was the moment you feel the company truly “got” the purpose and process of inbound marketing?
From the beginning I think we got the concept of inbound marketing, but we have learned so much about certain aspects of it over time. Almost two years into working with SPROUT Content, we’ve learned that results don’t happen overnight, and we must give it time. Building a foundation for inbound marketing was such an important first step through updating and simplifying the content on our website. And now that we built our blog up over time, it is driving more visitors. And in the last several months we’ve noticed more leads revisiting site, giving us more opportunities to reach out to these people.
One valuable lesson we’ve learned is that it’s not only about the content we’re putting out, but how inbound marketing has affected the mindset of our sales people and staff too. We’re now starting to get staff and sales to become part of the process, and I can see how we’re really getting things to come full circle with everyone on board.
So many people want immediate gratification and return from marketing. We’ve learned to give it time and stay on course. I think the best is yet to come with what we’re doing.
6. How has the transition to inbound marketing since impacted your company?
The bottom line is it comes down to new business being generated from efforts we’re putting forth. What is great is that now we’re able to track everything. In today’s business, you need to have a presence on social media and on the internet, there’s no doubt about it. It’s no different than the need to have business card, logos, etc. There’s not always a way to track how much business you get from business card or from a billboard.
If you’re going to be online, the beauty of that is the opportunity to track results more than any other marketing medium. With inbound marketing, that seems the only real marketing medium in which I can get a handle on success and impact. All of the other things we spend money on marketing, we aren’t guaranteed a way to measure success. Content marketing is quantifiable, and we’re able track see how well we’re performing.
7. What are some key insights Gilmore Services has gained from using strategic content to bring in business?
What has been most insightful for me is what I find interesting is not necessarily what our customers find interesting. Hiring someone to research this information and think of your company for you from a consumer perspective has been key for us. Using inbound marketing gives us insight and key advantages to write and present our company to consumers versus just sharing what we think is cool. We’ve learned if you’re too close, you don’t see what personas might be interested in.
Being able to track how people are getting to our site is also so important. We now know now that organic search is working as a way to drive visitors. No matter what, we’re going to spend money on marketing efforts, so it’s nice to know how they are actually working.
Take this example: after a year of tracking metrics, we learned Facebook isn’t really drawing much business to our site and might not be the best fit for us in our industry. We knew we needed to have a Facebook account, so we were able to adjust it to be community based and bring in house. If we’re going to be all in with inbound marketing, it's important to track what’s successful an refocus from there.
Doing inbound and tracking metrics, we’re able to put our dollars to the areas that are most beneficial to us. We wouldn’t know this information without our marketing strategy. Overall, we’ve learned that this type of marketing helps us spend our money wisely and helps us identify our key audiences.
Are you ready to embark on your journey from novice to rockstar? Check out our free guide on hiring an agency partner.