The Problem with Inbound Marketing (and how to fix it)

Over the past few years, Inbound Marketing has become very popular. Companies like Hubspot are building full-scale applications around providing ebooks, blog posts, and white papers on topics in order to drive leads. Compared to cold-calls, inbound marketing is gold, but there’s a better way. It’s called premium marketing. Let me explain.

Inbound Marketing is a Tough Sell for a Small Business

Writing blog posts and generating content takes quite a bit of time and research. If you are a small business owner, your time is better spent managing more profitable areas of your business. Inbound Marketing is not an overnight process, and takes dedication, time, and lots of effort. All this up-front work is risky – what happens if people don’t read your content? What happens if your content doesn’t drive qualified leads to your business?

This is problem #1.

What is your Time worth?

I remember when I first started building websites when I was 16 – I charged $15/hour and thought I was rich. It was twice as much as a made working at McDonalds, plus I had the opportunity to learn something that interested me. Now imagine a professional who has years of experience in a specific industry spending his/her time writing blog posts, providing immense value, and doing all this with the hope that there will be some form of financial return with qualified leads. This is still better than making cold calls, but is it really that much better?

This is problem #2

The Quality of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing isn’t a good fit for many people. I’ve seen small businesses hire “consultants” to write blog posts simply because they don’t have the time or writing skills to produce quality content. On top of this, I’ve seen many blog posts written because “Hubspot says we should blog 3-5 times/week.” While I agree with the notion of constantly pushing out new content, I believe in a simple rule:

*“If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say it at all.” *

(my mom used to say this all the time when my brother and I would get into fights)

Next, the quality of your content directly correlates to the leads that you receive with your inbound marketing efforts. If your blog posts suck, don’t expect to get more qualified leads.

This is problem #3.

My friend Chris Williams (who coined Premium Marketing) puts it best:

You’re marketing material should be so amazing that you can charge money for it.

Why Premium Marketing?

Is your funnel focused on more leads, or better leads? Is there a way to filter out the people who are just looking for free stuff, compared to people who value your advice and are willing to pay for it?

There’s an easy way to test this – start charging. This forces you to increase the quality of your marketing material, and also is the next step in the sales funnel. What’s easier? Selling your product or service to someone who downloaded your free white paper? Or selling to someone who has spent $50 dollars on your ebook? Think about it.

Premium Marketing is also good for those individuals who know what their time is worth. If I spent 20 years in an industry, and someone told me I should start blogging and giving away free content, I would think they were crazy.

In contrast, imagine if someone said, “You should offer a paid class/workshop for people in your industry.” That’s a much better use of my time.

Here are some examples of individuals/companies that are using Premium Marketing:

  1. Thoughtbot
  2. Nathan Barry
  3. Brennan Dunn
  4. Fresh Tilled Soil
  5. Noah Kagan

The Role of Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing still has a place, but it’s important to focus on what actually grows your business. Is it pageviews or cash?

In short, your time is valuable, and you shouldn’t be scared to charge money for your content.