Think back a few years: pre-Facebook, before Steve Jobs unleashed the iPhone, when the economy was booming and your phone was ringing.
Think about how companies in the green industry treated marketing in these good times. For many companies, marketing was an afterthought. It was something you could throw a little money at each year which might have meant a pricey YellowPages ad, a display at your local home and garden show and fancy-schmancy brochures.
Ahhhh, the days when marketing was easy.
Well, times change of course. Economies tank. New technologies emerge. Consumer habits change.
The big question is: Has your business changed?
I know, change can be a little scary. It can be difficult. There's risk.
But, there can also be great reward, especially when we talk about shifting from the traditional, in-your-face outbound approach to marketing and selling to the value-around-every-turn Inbound approach.
As the title of this post suggests, this shift to Inbound scares the sh*t out of a lot of businesses in our industry. And justifiably so--it requires a pretty dramatic change in how you do things. With that said, let's dive into the top three reasons why I think shifting to Inbound scares the sh*t out of green industry businesses.
Reason #1: Inbound is hard work
Let's be real, handing a check to an advertising rep is pretty damn easy (aside from the pain in parting with your hard-earned dough). The same can be said for blasting out 10,000 pretty postcards destined for the trash bin or harassing the Smith family during dinner with a phone call.
Here's the thing: It's really easy to interrupt and annoy people. What is not so easy is creating something that your prospects and customers truly value. And to do this consistently is even more difficult. I'm talking about week after week, month after month, and, yes, year after year. And as the title of this post suggests, this can truly scare the sh*t out of a business.
Shifting to Inbound and moving away from traditional outbound tactics like advertising and cold calling is a big step. It's a commitment. And long term commitments can be scary.
And how about the speed with which things constantly change nowadays? Yeah, scary fast. It's hard work just keeping up with changes to Facebook and Google's search algorithm. And that's only two examples.
Reason #2: You expose yourself
Starting a meaningful conversation and sharing real insight is a very personal experience that can shine a spotlight on the good and the bad in your business. I'm here to tell you: This is a good thing! Unfortunately, many companies would rather take the easy path and avoid this. They prefer a "safe", generic, sales-focused message printed on a glossy postcard or magazine.
Today, your customers want to know what's under that glossy surface--the good and the bad. You can't fool them. You might as well be transparent because they'll find out one way or another through friends -- or more likely -- online reviews.
"I don't want our competitors to see how we're doing things."
"We can't talk about pricing on our website."
"I don't like to toot our own horn."
"We don't have anything to share."
C'mon, lift the curtain and show the world what your business is all about. Is it a little scary? Hell yeah! But it's time to step into the spotlight and leave your competitors to cower in the corner.
Reason #3: Return on investment over the long haul vs. immediate payoff
I know you're familiar with the phrase "sleep, creep, leap", the very simplistic description of how a newly installed landscape will evolve over its first few years. The Inbound approach to marketing and sales is very similar to this. There's a lot of work that needs to be done up front before you reap a bounty of rewards. That's reality. And that reality can be a little scary to some.
Remember what I said earlier: Interrupting and annoying people by shoving your message in their face is easy. You could start a new lawn care business today, blanket a neighborhood with door hangers tomorrow and you might get a couple of calls by the end of the week. Hooray, instant payoff! The problem of course is that you probably pissed off the other 99.5% of the neighborhood. That's not a real sustainable approach.
On the other hand, developing a process for attracting the right people to your business by offering them something of value can take time. You can't take your new website live this afternoon and expect to generate any leads tomorrow, or even next week or next month. It just doesn't work that way.
We've had potential clients choose to not move forward with our services and the Inbound methodology because of this. It's not that they didn't necessarily see the value in our Inbound process, they just didn't see how they would get an immediate payoff and recover their investment within the first few months. I think most would agree that this is a foolish way to look at it.
Like most things in life and business that are worth doing, an investment and strong foundation are required before reaping the rewards you seek.