When I first learned the main principles of inbound marketing, I thought it was easy enough to understand: Use content, such as blog articles and videos, to attract visitors, and then sit back, put your feet up, and drink a margarita as you watch leads and new customers pour in.
But once I got into the weeds, I realized there was more to it — much more — than throwing any old blog article on the publishing platform, hoping it resonated with your ideal buyers.
Content marketers need to be a Jack or Jill of all trades, strategic in:
Tracking SEO and organic traffic.
Addressing blog topics that attract your ideal buyer.
Having effective calls-to-action and landing pages in all the right places.
Mastering newsletters and email campaigns.
Sharing everything on social media in a ways designed to encourage people to engage.
That’s a lot to learn about all at once.
🔎 Related: What are the real benefits of inbound marketing?
It’s no wonder that more often than not, the people who come to IMPACT for help are tired, burned out, and frustrated from chasing inbound marketing strategies that don’t work.
Learning inbound marketing can be mind-numbingly tortuous, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you’d prefer to start a clear, simple path to learn about inbound marketing so you can better grow your business — no matter where you are in your inbound learning journey — you’ve come to the right place.
A more direct path toward learning inbound marketing
When I wrote blog articles freelancing for small businesses, a company I worked for hired IMPACT partner Marcus Sheridan and IMPACT’s content marketing coach Kevin Phillips to train me on how to do inbound marketing. More specifically, they taught me the They Ask, You Answer approach to inbound, a method Sheridan developed after stumbling upon a no-fail way to bring in more qualified leads: Create content that answers customers’ questions as honestly and transparently as possible.
🔎 Related: What is They Ask, You Answer?
This means talking about things your competitors likely aren’t — those “ostrich marketing” topics that most companies like to bury their head in the sand about and pretend don’t exist. We call these The Big 5, and we often teach people to start here because they are the topics that drive the most traffic, leads, and sales:
Costs: How much your solution costs (factors, considerations, what defines value, etc.).
Problems: The negatives about, or issues with, your solution (that buyers tend to ask about).
Comparisons: How your product or solution compares to similar products or solutions.
Reviews: Honest and unbiased opinions and observations about your product, solution, etc.
Best: What the best solution available is.
This approach helped me grow the company’s web traffic from 200 people per month to over 35,000 — a number that is still providing 80% of the company’s leads and millions in revenue.
🎓 IMPACT+ course: They Ask, You Answer fundamentals with Marcus Sheridan
They Ask, You Answer provides an easy-to-follow checklist and a straightforward way to grow your inbound marketing campaign from the ground up, build trust in your company, and establish thought leadership within your industry.
To end your inbound education frustration and get you on the right path more quickly, what you need is to take all the guesswork out of what will and won’t drive results. What you need is a more direct path to inbound marketing success that has been proven to work by hundreds of companies like yours.
Our They Ask, You Answer framework does this, and with the following steps, you’ll go from feeling like this …
… to this …
… in no time.
Ready to get started?
Here are five easy ways to learn inbound marketing.
🔎 Related: The step-by-step 12-month DIY They Ask, You Answer implementation plan
1. Learn how to adopt inbound as a culture
If your entire company hasn’t bought-in to the idea that inbound marketing is essential for success and not just some tactic owned by your marketing team, then everything you learn about inbound marketing will be useless because you’re already set up to fail. Your entire company needs to understand what makes your prospects tick and how to meet their every need if you want to become the No. 1 teacher in your industry. (Hint: You do!)
The reason most people struggle with buy-in? They don’t understand the what, why, and how of inbound. Explain to sales that with the right content, they can start assignment selling by using content to close sales faster. Show your CEO on how a cultural change toward educating customers can draw in better-fit leads. Learn more about aligning your company around a culture of inbound with some of our resources:
What happens when you don’t have buy-in for inbound and content?
How a lack of sales and leadership buy-in is killing marketing morale worldwide
How do I get my old school sales reps to buy in to They Ask, You Answer?
How to get your whole team to buy in to They Ask, You Answer
Content that drives revenue: How to get leadership to buy-in
Building a culture of inbound at any company doesn’t happen overnight, but once your entire company is behind you, the journey becomes far easier. This is because traditional marketing methods (outbound marketing campaigns, such as billboards, radio ads, etc.) only last as long as your marketing budget, whereas inbound is an investment in your company’s marketing; once your content is created, it continues working for you.
🔎 Related: How to align your sales and marketing teams in 2021
2. Enroll in inbound marketing courses and certification programs
Maybe you need to brush up on inbound marketing basics or you know enough to dive into the more advanced and technical aspects.
Wherever you are in your educational journey, our courses and certification programs can help:
Creating memorable, money-making content for beginners
4 content guides to convert leads, close deals, and delight customers
Creating pillar content your buyers and search engines will love
Inbounder’s guide to email marketing
Fundamentals of social media marketing
HubSpot inbound course: Get certified in the inbound methodology
We also have more courses on IMPACT+ where you can try the platform free for 14 days and train on important inbound marketing skills, such as Crafting The Selling 7 videos that convert (the most important videos you can make to improve sales with video) and Inbound lead generation & conversion optimization (how to generate better-qualified leads).
By signing up for IMPACT+, you can access a wide range of inbound marketing courses, events, and mastermind groups, where troubleshooting your inbound marketing successes and setbacks with like-minded professionals is even easier. This helps keep you on track and accountable while you’re learning how to better wield your inbound marketing prowess.
3. Seek inbound marketing books and podcasts
Whether you enjoy reading or listening to podcasts about inbound marketing, these books and podcasts will teach you about inbound marketing in general, alongside some focused core topics, such as selling with video and creating top-notch content.
They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan (Wiley, 2019)
The Visual Sale by Marcus Sheridan and Tyler Lessard (Ideapress Publishing, 2020)
Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah (Wiley, 2009)
Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller (HarperCollins Leadership, 2017)
The Inbound Success Podcast
Business Made Simple with Donald Miller
There are countless books and podcasts to choose from, and chances are you will find one that you enjoy. These all contribute differently to the inbound marketing conversation, so while you might pick and choose which you read or listen to, don’t hesitate to aim for all.
4. Attend inbound marketing conferences and events
Attending these events either in person or online can help you get your feet wet. Some even offer workshops with intense, hands-on learning opportunities that get everyone in a room without distraction so you can focus on how to accomplish the task at hand.
Whether you’re looking to deepen your knowledge of HubSpot (IMPACT is an Elite HubSpot Partner), learn how to create written or video content, or master inbound marketing in general, there’s a conference for that.
Here’s how you can access information about some of our favorites:
Inbound marketing events information and resources
Past IMPACT events and recordings
Upcoming IMPACT events
We also recommend checking out the Business Made Simple (IMPACT is a Certified StoryBrand Agency) and HubSpot websites for information on upcoming events. These two companies regularly host and attend both in-person and virtual functions for furthering your inbound education. Business Made Simple events are geared toward companies that need help clarifying their message, and HubSpot events will help you learn more about the tools needed to track your inbound marketing growth.
5. Learn the essential inbound marketing tools
Having the right tools in place is essential to help lift your inbound marketing efforts off the ground and ensure you’re on the right track once you start. Tools such as HubSpot keep tabs on which prospects are engaging with your content and how each piece of content contributes to your ROI, while Semrush and Google Analytics can be invaluable tools for keyword research and boosting SEO.
Here are some of our helpful resources in learning about your inbound marketing tool options:
20 best content marketing tools and apps for 2021
8 best digital marketing tools and tech for every business
17 best content marketing platforms for 2021
10 tools that should be on your radar for 2021
As you learn more about inbound marketing, try to get a sense of which tools might help your team the most. It’s better to start small and understand the power of these tools rather than jump in feet first and invest in a program or tool you won’t need.
🔎 Related: Is the HubSpot CRM the best for They Ask, You Answer?
Apply what you learn about inbound marketing immediately
As inbound marketing trends continue to change rapidly (Google algorithm changes are just one of the many moving targets), the convenient thing about using They Ask, You Answer is that you never have to worry about whether or not you’re meeting the criteria. You’re always going to be creating high-value, lead-generating material that drives results.
At the end of the day, inbound marketing is all about relationship building — making your prospects feel so seen and understood that they feel comfortable buying from you. This type of buyer-business relationship can’t be faked. It can’t be won over with shallow promises or salsey tactics.
It requires honesty, transparency, and the willingness to admit that our companies aren’t a good fit for everyone.
And the best part? You don’t have to wait until your website is getting more traffic to see results — by creating content for your sales team they can use to educate prospects, you can experience immediate wins today.
To learn even more about inbound marketing and train at your own pace, visit our learning center or IMPACT+ app for thousands of articles, classes, seminars, and communities you can access for free. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, you can reach out to our mastery team for guidance. They can walk you through what a coaching or hands-on training program entails and lead you along the way toward inbound marketing success.
Read more: impactplus.com