I had the pleasure and the honor to be a presenter at the first Alaska Inbound Marketing Summit in Anchorage, Alaska. This was Alaska’s first ever inbound marketing conference and it featured Marcus Sheridan, the Sales Lion, Andrea Vahl ,(aka Grandma Mary) author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies, Viveka Von Rosken of Linked Into Business, and Corrisa St. Laurent from Constsant Contact.
I can tell you that Marcus is an extremely passionate and energetic speaker. I couldn’t believe that he flew in the night before from Sweeden to present in Anchorage. He definitely knows his stuff about inbound marketing.
Being a Pinterest marketer myself, I truly believe that the foundation of a great Pinterest account is the ability to create great blog posts and articles that draw people into your business. While pretty pictures and visual headlines are good, it’s helpful and useful content that get people to stay on your site.
Nine Lessons About Inbound Marketing from Marcus Sheridan
Here are the 9 lessons I learned from Marcus Sheridan about inbound and content at the Alaska Inbound Marketing Summit.
1) Inbound Marketing is About Being the Most Helpful and Best Teacher
It’s inspiring to hear that Marcus would go on the road for 12 hours trying to sell pools and still have the energy to write blog posts at the end of the day for Riverside Pools and Spa. I’m personally not that type of road warrior and don’t always have that type of energy.
When you are creating content, you have to have a passion to be the most helpful to your customers and to be the best teacher possible. Without that passion, I don’t know if it is possible to continue to produce great content.
You have to be willing to provide answers that no one else wants to answer, and you need to create content that is in the best interest of your customers.
2) Start with “Why?”
This is a great question to ask on so many levels. But it’s important to understand why what you write is important to your customers, why your WHOLE organization needs to be behind inbound marketing. If people don’t understand why something is happening, it can be hard for them to jump on board.
You have to get people to buy into the process that creating content is important to an organization and its bottom line.
3) Host an Inbound Workshop and Ongoing Training
Marcus says that in order for an organization to have a truly successful content and inbound marketing strategy, everybody needs to understand what inbound marketing is, the benefits of using inbound marketing, and how everybody has to be on the same page.
If you can’t get everybody at the company at your first inbound marketing workshop to understand what is going on, then you’re not going to get effective results. Everybody should be there, and point number 5 is going to explain why this is vital.
I don’t think this just applies to inbound marketing and content creation, but I truly believe that ongoing training also needs to be provided in the social media sphere. Your company needs to know what type of social media messages can help drive company profit and positive public relations, and the type of social messages that could be extremely costly.
4) Who is THE content manager?
Marcus says you’ve got to have someone in charge of content. Who in your company is going to be the Content Manager? This should be, ideally, someone who is dedicated to this role full time.
You can’t three different people managing content as this can spread people to thin and at the end of the day it can be hard to move in one direction.
5) Insource (Engage Employees)
This is something that I wish more companies would do with their content marketing. It’s leveraging your employees to help you produce wonderful content. Inbound content can come in many forms including e-books, video, audio and webinars.
The goal is not just to have you and your content marketing team produce content for your customers, but to get the whole company involved. Marcus says that there are four types of people in your company right now that can help you produce great inbound content.
3) Talkers (these may be technical people who are extremely good at explaining details).
4) Questioners (usually people who do customer service and answer questions all day)
Let’s be honest, not everybody is born a writer. Some people HATE writing, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t passionate about what they do, or are shy in front of the camera. There are tons of people, within your company right now, who can jabber on like a monkey about a product or service with hot burning passion in a camera or audio interview.
And by the way if you have a small team and you don’t feel you have enough time or resources to produce great content, Marcus suggests that you suck it up and get it done anyway.
6) It’s about Sales Tools Not Marketing Tools
The way you word things is so important, and Marcus stressed this a lot during his presentation. If you want to get sales people to jump aboard the inbound marketing train you have to impress upon them that inbound marketing is a tool that helps drives sales, not marketing.
When you position that inbound marketing is about sales, and that it helps contribute to sales, then this makes it easier for the organization as a whole to stand behind inbound marketing.
(Disclosure: I’m currently a investor in Hubspot.)
7) Make it Required For Marketing and Sales to Meet
Marketing and sales departments often work independently of each other creating silos of silence. Marcus suggests that it should be mandatory for sales and marketing departments to meet up at least once a month for an hour.
70% of the buying decision is already made before a person talks to a sales person face to face. By working together with sales, inbound marketers and content creators can create content that deals with everyday objections that salespeople receive, and make it easier for salespeople to close the sale.
Marcus shares one example of how one couple read over 800 pages content about swimming pools on the River Pools and Spas site! The articles were doing so much of the education and selling for Marcus, that by the time he went to the couple’s house, the deal was pretty much done. All he needed was their signature.
8) Master the Tool
Doing content marketing is great, but having a tool that allows you to show you ROI is important. This is where Marcus suggests that you receive some inbound certification that allows you to measure the results of your inbound marketing, not just in clicks, but in money and data intelligence.
For example, Marcus found out through his data analytics, that people who read at least 30 pages from Riverside Pool and Spas would have a sales closing rate of 80%, compared to those who read less than 30 pages which had an average closing of 20%.
Using inbound marketing, and data, you can use that information to help close more sales, reduce the amount of time that the sales team needs to be on the phone or in person.
9) The CEO Really Needs to Care about Inbound Marketing
I think this was probably the most interesting tidbit of all, which is the CEO has to really care about inbound marketing and needs to understand and be on board of the whole process. Marcus says that no truly successful inbound marketing and sales occurs without 100% support from the CEO.
He says it simply does not work. And that it won’t be effective.
Behind the Scenes at Alaska Inbound Marketing:
I had a blast being a presenter at the Alaska Inbound Marketing Summit, and wanted to share some great tweets and photos that were taken by people at the event. Enjoy!
— Marcus Sheridan (@TheSalesLion) August 27, 2015
— Marcus Sheridan (@TheSalesLion) August 27, 2015
— Ariane Aramburo (@ArianeAramburo) August 28, 2015
Ariane Aramburo in the middle was one of our emcees throughout the event. She’s the morning anchor at NBC Channel 2. I couldn’t believe she had been up since 2:30 am that morning AND was 8 months pregnant. Big thanks also to Jason Martin who is on the left for his gracious hospitality and amazing emcee skills.
— Corissa St. Laurent (@Corissastl) September 1, 2015
And a big thank you to Jennifer Christensen and Adrienne Wilkerson from Beacon Media and Marketing for hosting Alaska’s first ever inbound marketing conference! You two are serious visionaries. Keep rocking on!
And big thank you to Toast of the Town’s team, Carrie Shepphard and Cyrstal Swartzlander
And the best picture for the entire conference goes to Viveka Von Rosen and Corissa St. Laurent. Those ladies know how to rock it!
Also if you happen to be looking for an alternative to a taxi while in Anchorage, Alaska and you’re planning to do some activities in advance, you can contact Beth who operates, Allow Me to Pick You Up, you can call her up at 208 631 1952. She was my driver to and from the airport and was extremely pleasant to chat with.
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