You can always make more money. You can't make more time.
If you're running a company, you should get very serious about spending your time doing what you uniquely can do, and hire the right staff to do everything else, right?
Unfortunately, many CEOs even in larger companies spend their time "doing the work," because they either love it so much, or they have difficulty letting others get involved.
It can even happen with something as amazing as inbound marketing. Maybe you've seen the promising results of inbound marketing, and you're ready to implement it for your company. The truth is, inbound marketing takes a lot of work.
You want to absolutely put your best out there in your content and it can be difficult to recognize that in many cases that is not nearly the most effective use of your time as the CEO.
I confess. I was guilty of this cardinal sin. I got so excited about watching inbound marketing revolutionize my small company (As an aside in 2014, year over year, we've more than doubled our gross revenue.) that it was easy for me to spend too much time in the "guts of the ship" of our marketing instead of captaining it.
Then I realized that there is tremendous power in getting everyone involved in my company. So, we have all teamed up to make our own inbound marketing happen.
I'm not saying that as the CEO, you shouldn't be involved at a high level with your company's inbound marketing. I am convinced that the leadership of a company should be very visible in their content and should make sure their voice is clear and personal. It's just that you need to make sure that you have a team taking care of the nuts and bolts so that you can bring your unique voice to the final product without it consuming your very limited time.
So, here's how I see the solution.
Option 1 - Spread out the load.
If you have some staff that has extra capacity, and has an aptitude for communication, you can get them involved in running inbound marketing for your company. That's what I did. (Of course, my team is really good at inbound marketing, because that's what we do.) But your team may be perfectly suited for this as well. Just be sure they have the extra time in their own capacity, or you risk overloading them and impacting the quality of your own company's customer service.
Option 2 - Hire a staff member.
You can hire a marketing manager or marketing director to handle your inbound marketing. The up side is that you can often get this employee to handle other aspects of your marketing. The down side is that it's difficult to find one person who can handle all aspects of your inbound marketing well and if they don't do it well, it can be very taxing on your company to extricate them from the process.
Option 3 - Partner with an agency.
You can partner with in an inbound marketing agency or a content marketing agency to power your inbound marketing efforts. (Here are 10 reasons why this may not be a good idea for your company.)The down side is that you're working with someone from the "outside." (Although, having hired outside teams for my own company, I can say that bringing in outside "fresh eyes" and minds free of industry jargon can be one of the best ways to improve your message.) The up side is that you immediately get a fully-functioning, highly efficient team working for you without the wasted months of training, experimentation, and so forth. Plus, if they're not working well, it's as simple as pulling the plug. (Not something I feel good about saying, but it's the truth.) You probably think that I'm going to make some kind of sales pitch that you should work with Nectafy to run your inbound marketing. Nope. Quite the contrary. Here's what you should do instead.
- First, visit HubSpot's partner page.
- Then scroll down through the sales-y stuff to the listing of all the partners. (If you're really paying attention, you'll notice that Nectafy isn't listed on that page. That's on purpose. We're a little different. If you want to know how and why, drop me a line at lance -at- nectafy.com. :))
- Click on 10 or 20 of those partners, and take a look at how they do their own inbound marketing. Tip: If you want to work with an agency who has a ton of experience and an equal number of clients, check out the agencies with logos at the top. If you want a more personalized experience, try some of the smaller agencies at the bottom. Make note of how each agency does their own inbound marketing. Look through their blog, check out their "white papers" and their other offers. See what kinds of follow-up you get from that activity. Then ask yourself: "Would I love to have this type of stuff on my own company's site?"
- Once you've narrowed your list down to 4 or 5, contact them.
- The good news is that since most of these agencies are fully-branded HubSpot partners, and have gone through the same HubSpot training, you can expect a similar experience from each at the beginning, and it will give you a chance to compare the "courting" process fairly.
- For most agencies, you'll need to go through what's called an "Assessment" call or an exploratory call. This is a 15-30 minute meet and greet. If you don't actually enjoy this call, and feel like they're listening to you and your company's needs instead of running you through a checklist, you can mark them off the list. This is the best you'll ever feel about that agency.
- For the 1 or 2 you really click with, you'll most likely have a 1-hour "Goal Setting" call, where you and the agency will try to nail down what your specific goals are for your inbound marketing effort. Depending on how the call goes, you should expect a proposal one or two days after this call. Since inbound marketing takes time to really develop momentum, expect that the agency will require a 12-month commitment of a monthly retainer. Depending on how involved you want the agency to be, anticipate monthly retainer costs ranging from $3,000-$10,000/mo.
Lemme' Sum Up
Your greatest value to your company is leading it. Don't fall into the trap of taking the solo burden of doing inbound marketing for your company. Set the vision. Stay involved at a high level. Lend your voice. But don't waste your time on things that others can do.