Approaching the board with a new idea can often be intimidating and nerve-wracking. At times boards consist of over 20 people who while very knowledgeable in the profession or industry your association supports, may not necessarily be knowledgeable when it comes to your specific role in the association. Marketing tends to be one of those knowledge bases where your board may be a little less informed. And so it tends to be that marketing professionals at associations need to present a compelling argument when asking for incremental budget or undertaking a new or even experimental strategy.A typical conversation about increased budgets or re-branding is challenging in and of itself, throw on a new marketing methodology and you are in another ball game of conversations. So when you are approaching the board about implementing Inbound Marketing, here are a few tips that might help you convince and convert your board to inbound champions.
Tip #1: Explain Inbound
It’s virtually impossible to get someone to commit or approve something that they don’t understand. Before asking for anything, take the time to explain to the board what Inbound is and how it is different from your current marketing strategies. Explain how outbound marketing pushes your message out far and wide hoping it resonates with your target, where inbound marketing allows yourself to “get found” by people that are already in the market for your products and services.
You may even want to warm the board up in advance by sharing some key blogs, whitepapers or ebooks explaining inbound and why it is relevant for your organization.
Send your board this eBook, Surviving the Future to prep them for your meeting. It explains why it's so important for you business to evolve.
Tip #2 Leverage Data
Probably the #1 most effective way of convincing your board of anything is putting the information into numbers. In this case, show your current stats and what you are hoping to change. If your email open rates are stagnant, use that to your advantage. You can’t change the way members and prospective members respond to you unless you change the way you are communicating.
On the other side of things, give the board a few case studies or examples of how Inbound has been effective for other Associations. Show statistics of the way people consume information to build the case for Inbound.
Reiterate that the foundation of Inbound Marketing is leveraging data to continue to improve your messaging and content strategies. With Inbound you will leverage keyword data, email opens and click-throughs, and conversion rate information to put together a bigger picture and strategy from which to operate.
Tip #3: Communicate the Intangibles
For the sake of this blog, I’m assuming that you know in order to convince your board of anything you need to share the benefits of the program and that you are well aware of the specific tangible benefits that inbound offers: the increased reach, better ROI, etc. Aside from these benefits there are some less tangible benefits that could help make your case. Here are three results of inbound marketing that are less direct and more long term that you could point out:
DETERMINE CUSTOMER INTEREST
When you embark on the process of inbound, you start off with developing personas. A lot of organizations have already done the work of understanding who their members are and what their target personas look like. What inbound does in this regard is either validate or move the needle when it comes to your developed target. As people interact with the content you produce, you will begin to get a better sense of what type of content people want from you. You will be able to craft your messaging and future programming based on the interests of people using your resources.
This data is invaluable, and usually very expensive if you leverage an outside research resource. Imagine if you can skip that process and simply use your marketing automation platform or google analytics to tell you the story of what your base wants from you.
INBOUND AS INTEGRATOR
Another aspect of inbound that can sometimes be overlooked or unnoticed is the power of this methodology to integrate an organization around its core purpose. Think about it, blog and content creation is the number one activity for successful inbound marketing and inevitably, your marketing team doesn’t have the bandwidth to be the sole content creator. Leveraging inbound will force you to go beyond the organizational silos that might exist and ask each program or department to play a role in your overall content strategy. With more insight into existing marketing activities and more frequent communication across departments, an interesting exchange of information can unfold, all for the betterment of the association and its members.
Further, as you begin to create a knowledgebase of information, your organization’s awareness and credibility will also build. You will begin to be the first source found on search engines, have relevant content based on the search and establish a reputation as being credible, useful, and easy to access. In addition, the repository of content that you curate and create will give your brand a voice and allow an opportunity for your brand’s personality to shine through.
The good news in all of this is that there are a ton of good reasons as to why inbound is the right way to go for your association. The most important part of presenting your case will be to lay out the facts and follow it all up with data or case studies.
As soon as your plan is approved, get off to the right track with this Inbound Checklist.