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Kimberly Marshall

By Kimberly Marshall

Sep 14, 2021


Inbound Marketing Marketing Strategy Content and Inbound Marketing 101
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Inbound Marketing  |   Marketing Strategy  |   Content and Inbound Marketing 101

5 Key Elements of a Winning Inbound Marketing Plan

Kimberly Marshall

By Kimberly Marshall

Sep 14, 2021

5 Key Elements of a Winning Inbound Marketing Plan

Whether you’ve done inbound marketing yourself or led a team of content creators, you know that sinking feeling when, after months of publishing, you hope to find exponential growth — but instead see your numbers nudging along. You were told that if you publish content geared toward your buyer personas, you could grow web traffic, your business would thrive, and everyone would live happily ever after. 

What gives?

Here’s the thing: Most educational resources that teach inbound marketing “strategy” are only covering basic, surface-level information. They tell you to do keyword research and write articles, and then analyze the data so you can “do better” — but how? Advice from these sources might eventually help you take small steps toward building better traffic, but you won’t see that explosive organic traffic, sales, and revenue growth that is truly possible with inbound. 

If you’re confused and frustrated, and you want to stop wasting your money on inbound marketing strategies that aren’t working, you’re in good company. Here at IMPACT, thousands of businesses come to us when they  they’re tired of spinning their wheels and want to improve their inbound marketing efforts.

In this article, we’re sharing with you the five key elements of an inbound marketing plan you need to have in place for solid revenue growth for your business. It’s what we teach our clients how to do every day — and it works.

We promise that if you go all-in on these five components, you will finally catalyze the business growth you’d hoped for. This method worked for Mazzella Companies, which increased their revenue by $20 million and web traffic by 256%, and Aquila Commercial, which skyrocketed their website visitors to 23,000 per month and ranked for 30 times the keywords.

Like hundreds of our clients who’ve used the same method and have since generated millions in revenue from inbound sales prospects, if you do these five things, you are guaranteed to see incredible growth to your bottom line. 

You need to:

  1. Build an inbound marketing culture.
  2. Insource your content creation.
  3. Create your content more effectively.
  4. Use content in the sales process.
  5. Obsess over your customer. 

After learning these five elements, you will have a clear direction on where you need to focus so you can stop wasting valuable time and resources. Inbound marketing done right does work — and with these five steps, you’ll see better results in weeks, not months. 

Ready to use content to generate exponential growth in traffic, leads, and sales?

Here’s how.

1. Build an inbound marketing culture 

There is one big difference between businesses that fail with inbound, and those that succeed greatly: Businesses that succeed don’t approach inbound marketing as a program, but as a culture. Programs are often set up, executed, and die out. Cultures, on the other hand, are nourished and grow, becoming embedded in your business’s everyday mission.

When your company embraces inbound marketing as a culture, this means everyone in your company holds ownership in creating great content. When everyone is responsible for taking part in the mission — whether it’s to contribute ideas, speak on camera about their day-to-day, or be resources as subject-matter experts — your team members feel more connected to your brand. And with more people connected to and contributing to the cause, your inbound marketing efforts will be infinitely easier and more genuine.

To foster a culture of inbound marketing at your company, here’s what to do.

Get buy-in from leadership 

To get your leadership team behind you in your quest to create an inbound marketing culture in your business, you need to get buy-in from your team. This means they need to understand the what, why, and how of inbound.

What you might hear most is, “We don’t have time.” But what this really means is that content creation isn’t a priority for your company, and they don’t understand the incredible benefits inbound marketing could have on your business’s bottom line.

This is why we always recommend beginning this journey with a workshop that clearly explains the effect inbound marketing can have on your business. Once everyone is on board with how it works and why you need it, the rest will more easily fall into place, and your marketing goals will be better aligned with your overall business goals

Use the right tools

If you’re not showing how well inbound marketing and content creation is working for your business, someone will inevitably ask, “Is it worth our time?” To show your team that their efforts are working, and to show leadership just how effective inbound is, you need to use the right tools to better measure and track important data.

We teach our clients how to use — and always recommend — HubSpot because while it’s not the only marketing automation platform out there, it’s one of the best. We use analytics tools so that when that day comes when we’re asked to prove that our inbound marketing efforts are working, we can draw a definitive line connecting the content we’re creating to our businesses’ ROI. 

Learn more about building an inbound marketing culture at your business by watching Marcus Sheridan’s 2017 keynote, Building a True Culture of Inbound with They Ask, You Answer, or talk to an advisor about how you can implement this program at your company for even better results than doing it on your own.

2. Insource inbound marketing content creation 

One of the biggest components of inbound marketing success is insourcing your content creation. So many companies that fail or don’t generate big wins turn to outside sources like agencies or freelancers to take care of their inbound marketing plan

You need people inside your organization working on your inbound marketing initiative who care about the project and represent your business.

The content manager

The companies we’ve worked with that get the most inbound marketing wins the fastest do one very simple thing: They hire a full-time content manager. This person is ultimately the backbone of your inbound marketing efforts. 

You need that one person in-house who owns the content creation process and obsesses over:

  • Creating consistent, high-quality content that accurately reflects the true tone and spirit of your brand.
  • Interviewing your company’s subject-matter experts to capture their insights and integrate their unique perspectives into your content.
  • Working directly with the sales team to help integrate content into the sales process so they can close more deals faster.
  • Monitoring organic reach and search performance and routinely improving ranking and traffic results.
  • Updating existing content to ensure it remains relevant and effective.
  • Overseeing your website, email, social media, and other areas of the business where content is critical.

As you can see, this role is truly a full-time job — and it’s one of the first steps we push our clients to take. If you’re thinking there is someone on your marketing team or in sales who can create content for your business, but they already wear too many hats, it won’t work. You need to dedicate someone to this role exclusively, or you’ll never be able to reach that cadence of producing at least three pieces of content per week.

Our free course, How to hire a content manager, explains how to find the right fit for your business, or talk to an advisor at IMPACT, and we’ll walk you through the process.

Subject-matter experts 

As your team creates content (ideally led by your content manager), remember that you have an entire staff of subject-matter experts at your fingertips. The salespeople who have worked for your company for years, the engineers on your team, the people you hired that have years and years of industry experience — use them!

Your inbound marketing content needs to be as educational as possible, so use the people on your team who can best explain how your process works. Let your prospects see your employees’ faces on camera and read their advice on your blog. However the people on your staff want to contribute, they need to. This will help your business tap into an unlimited supply of content that looks, feels, and acts like your brand

There’s nothing more authentic and true to your business than that. 

3. Create the most effective inbound marketing content first

After you’ve succeeded in getting your leadership, sales, and marketing teams on board — and you’ve hired a content manager — this is when your inbound marketing strategy starts to really come together, and creating content becomes the main focus. 

But you don’t want to create just any content. You want to create the most effective content possible to get the biggest return on your investment in the shortest time. There are five main article topics you can address and seven videos that will do this. We call them The Big 5 and the Selling 7. Here’s what they are and how to create them.

The Big 5

The Big 5 are topics that represent the questions buyers obsess about and search in-depth before making big purchase decisions — and when you answer them on your website, they do the heaviest lifting when it comes to attracting prospects and increasing traffic, leads and sales. 

The Big 5 are:

  1. Pricing and costs: How much your solution costs (factors, considerations, what defines value, etc.).
  2. Problems: The negatives about, or issues with, your solution that buyers ask about. 
  3. Versus and comparisons: How your product or solution compares to similar products or solutions. 
  4. Reviews: Honest and unbiased opinions and observations about your product, solution, etc. 
  5. Best in class: What the best solution available is.

It’s important to write these articles to educate buyers in an unbiased way and give them all the information they need to make informed buying decisions. Doing so builds the trust your prospects need to hand over their hard-earned money in exchange for your business. 

Cost and price

Most businesses don’t talk about cost on their websites. But if you think about being a consumer, one of the first questions you have before you make a large purchase is, “How much does it cost?” If we go to a business’s website and can’t find this information immediately, we are frustrated. 

We know our prospects want to know cost information, but we typically avoid having it on our websites for a few reasons:

  1. Our solutions are custom. Even if you don’t give a price tag, by simply addressing the topic, you are answering the question.
  2. Our competition will know. Chances are your competitors already know what you charge. Don’t let your competitor dictate what you share with your prospects online. Focus on your buyers and their needs — exclusively. 
  3. We might scare customers away. Explaining cost doesn’t scare your customers away, but keeping this information from them will. Your customers know you know how much your products cost, and if you don’t share the cost with them, they won’t trust you.

If you’re not willing to address the question and explain the marketplace to your buyers, they won’t understand what goes into your process and will seek the cheapest option.

Here’s a cost article published by one of our clients, FBi Buildings, which you can reference to get an idea of what these articles include.


Every company gets asked questions about the problems with their products and services. We’d love to pretend everything about our businesses is perfect, but that’s not the case — and your customers already know this. 

We can address the problems that customers might run across with our products and services, which makes us part of the conversation, or we can allow our competitors to address them. 

Some of our clients have generated millions in sales by simply writing these articles. They work because, when we’re willing to address the problems our buyers might experience, we explain them before they are a concern, and our customers appreciate the transparency.

Again, it all comes down to trust.

IMPACT client La-Z-Boy Home Furnishings wrote this article about whether recliners cause problems for your back. They present the issue, but also explain how to avoid it, so you as an educated buyer can make a better purchasing decision. 

Versus and comparisons

We love nothing more as buyers than to compare our options. 

Yet again, most businesses feel uncomfortable addressing this issue because it often forces us to talk about our competitors. Your prospects want to know how your products and services compare to other options, so you need to talk about them. 

But if you want to do this and still build trust with your buyers, which is the business we’re all in anyway, you need to remain unbiased and show both sides of the coin, as we did in our comparison article IMPACT vs New Breed vs SmartBug

Reviews and best in class

As buyers and consumers, we also love to search for reviews and the best in class. If we are able to see all our options and what people have to say about them, we can make better-informed decisions.

Questions like “Who are the best pool builders in Richmond, VA?” might sound like a topic you want to avoid, but again, your prospects want to know. List the options, and talk about your competitors without putting yourself on the list. If you create a “best of” list, your prospects will know you wrote it, and if you put your own business on it, you appear biased and you lose credibility.

For more information on how to create these articles, watch our free course How to Write “The Big 5”. Also, set up an appointment to talk to an advisor here at IMPACT. We’ve taught hundreds of businesses like yours how to write these articles, and we can answer any questions you have. 

The Selling 7

Despite the fact that of all projected consumer web traffic in 2022, 82% will be video, most of the businesses we work with use visual content on less than 10% of their website. This means the opportunity to build your business online with video is essentially limitless — because chances are your competitors aren’t using it (at least like they should).  

Just as there are certain blog topics that drive the needle faster, with video, it’s critical to also create the right ones first.

If you produce these videos for your business, you will help your sales team close more deals faster. They will be able to use each of these to improve their selling process and shorten the sales cycle.

1. The 80% video 

If you ask your sales team what percentage of sales questions they answer on a typical sales call are the same, they’ll likely tell you they get asked the same questions about 80% of the time. This means your sales team is constantly answering the same questions over and over again.

Instead of your sales team answering these questions during each sales call, create a video they can forward to prospects to watch before their sales call that answers these questions in advance. This saves your sales team a lot of time, and when they do meet with your prospects, they can focus on answering specific questions.

To make an 80% video:

  • Brainstorm a list of the most important products and services your business offers (you will create an 80% video for each). 
  • Once you have these products and services nailed down, come up with the most-asked questions and answer them each in a video.
  • Lastly, string these videos together, and there you have it: an 80% video that addresses all the big questions your potential customers typically have.

Post your 80% video on your business’s YouTube channel and embed it in your website wherever it is useful (product and service pages, value proposition pages, etc.). But also get it to your sales team so they can immediately use it in their sales process. 

Here’s an example of an 80% video from IMPACT client Sheffield Metals:

2. Bio videos for email signatures

Bio videos are powerful tools for humanizing your business. They also allow prospects to see your sales team or any other customer-facing employees before they interact with your business. 

A bio video should mix some professional and personal information in a short, 90- to 120-second video to share in your email signature. By the time you meet with your prospects, they’ve already seen your face and know a bit about your story. This helps them connect to your team more personally, as in this example introducing Leigh Ellis of IMPACT client Aquila:

3. Product and service fit videos

As businesses, we talk about our products and services as if they’re a good fit for everyone. But most businesses don’t talk about one very effective thing: who our products and services are not a good fit for.

The moment we explain to prospects why we’re not a good fit, as honestly and thoroughly as possible, we eliminate prospects we would otherwise be wasting our time with, and we become all the more attractive to our right-fit customers. After training with IMPACT on how to do these videos correctly, Office Interiors got it right in this product and service fit video about moveable walls:

4. Landing page videos

Landing pages are any page on your website that offers a form to prospects to fill out. When consumers land on these pages, most don’t feel comfortable sharing their personal information because they’re afraid it will be misused. 

Include a video on these landing pages explaining how you’re going to use this information to ease their fears. By employing these videos, our clients have seen an average form submission increase of 80% and hundreds of thousands in revenue thanks to sales they never would have gotten.

River Pools, which is owned by IMPACT co-owner Marcus Sheridan and has been supported by the IMPACT team, has a great example of a landing page video:

5. Cost and pricing videos

Just like the cost articles we mentioned in the Big 5, talking about cost in a video helps set you apart from your competitors. Explain your costs the same way you would in the article, focusing on the different factors that drive your cost up or down. Explain how the marketplace affects your cost and how your products and services compare to your competitors’ costs and why. 

These videos give your sales team another powerful tool for explaining your business, and they also give your prospects an easy way to share cost information with key decision-makers. This can help them smooth over communication gaps that often happen when a “messenger” is relaying this important information to others. 

Watch this video by another IMPACT client, RetroFoam of Michigan, to see how this type of video is done right:

6. Customer journey videos

Most businesses provide testimonials, but they don’t do it in the way we teach our clients to do, and that is to share your customers’ journeys.

These videos use the traditional hero’s journey to help your customers explain how you’ve helped them:

  • Stage 1: Your customer explains their problem — a need, stress, worry, concern, or issue that you’ve helped them solve.
  • Stage 2: They share the journey they took to fix the problem. (This should be the journey they share with your company.) 
  • Stage 3: Your customer describes where they are today, which shows that with your help they were able to fix their problem.

After working with IMPACT, La-Z-Boy Home Furnishings & Décor created this incredible customer journey video: 

7. ‘Claims we make’ videos

Last but not least, your company should create a “claims we make” video that proves your company does what you say you do. These are typically the things we tell our prospects, such as:

  • We are the best at _______.
  • We have the most _______.
  • No one does _______ like we do.

Any company can make these claims, but successful businesses understand how to show they are what they claim. 

For example, if you manufacture something with unique materials that are difficult to source, create a video that explains the process. If you say on your website that your people are what makes your business different, use a video to show that — like IMPACT’s client Service Thread:

Learn more about producing The Big 5 and Selling 7 with our IMPACT+ courses, How to Write “The Big 5” and Crafting “The Selling 7” videos that convert. And if you’re still unsure how to create these articles or videos in a way that helps your sales team, talk to an advisor at IMPACT who can answer all your questions. 

4. Use inbound marketing content in your sales process

If your sales and marketing teams do inbound marketing together correctly, your website acts as your company’s best salesperson, and it will be easier to zero in on marketing- and sales-qualified leads.

Working together to produce effective inbound marketing content will also:

  • Make your sales team better at explaining and teaching prospects about your business offerings, and your sales messaging will improve.
  • Create a well of information for your new sales team members. Once the content is produced, the onboarding process becomes easier for all. 
  • Dramatically decrease the sales cycle and increase closing rates by educating the buyer at a much faster rate.
  • Help sales learn what content prospects are interested in before they enter the sales funnel. This gives your sales team a story to work with, and you can design more effective sales presentations.
  • Build trust earlier in the pipeline when our buyers can watch videos with the salesperson and subject-matter experts and feel connected from the start. 

Great content means more trust, which leads to shorter sales cycles and happier sales teams. 

Learn more about assignment selling and how to do it with Marcus Sheridan’s course Assignment selling: Content is your greatest sales tool. And talk to an advisor about using this method to shorten your sales cycles and increase revenue for your business. It’s something you don’t have to wait to use. You can create content and use it in your sales process today. 

5. Obsess over your customer for a stronger inbound marketing strategy

We need to overcome our buyers’ fear and build trust. You do this by answering their questions as thoroughly and honestly as possible.

When our clients succeed with They Ask, You Answer, it’s because of their willingness to lean into fear. Most companies don’t do this, at least not as well as CarMax. 

We know most people think of used-car salesmen as pushy and untrustworthy, and after a bit of self-reflection, CarMax did something incredible: They admitted that their buyers didn’t trust them. 

Instead of pretending this issue didn’t exist and ignoring it, hoping it would go away (something we call ostrich marketing here at IMPACT), they listed the major fears buyers have when purchasing a used car and built out a plan to address them:

  • Buyers want to avoid buying a lemon, so CarMax includes a history report of all the issues that particular car has had in the past. 
  • Buyers don’t want to buy a used car and regret it later, so CarMax lets you bring the car back within the first three days, no questions asked. 
  • Buyers prefer not to deal with a salesperson, so CarMax offers no-haggle pricing. There is no need to negotiate — the price is the price.
  • Buyers want a good price or value, so CarMax salespeople get the same commission, regardless of the price of the vehicle. 

These are the four major fears the CarMax buyers had, and the company built its entire business model around easing them. 

The question is, are you willing to answer your buyers’ questions truthfully, no matter how difficult they are to answer? 

This is the essence of They Ask, You Answer — it’s a monumental shift in the way businesses operate today, and if you do it right, you won’t believe how much the course of your business can change.

To learn more about They Ask, You Answer, visit our What Is They Ask, You Answer? page on the IMPACT website or talk to an advisor who can explain how well this approach to inbound can work for you. 

Build an inbound marketing plan that works

All of these tips come from our award-winning They Ask, You Answer approach to inbound marketing. To learn more, watch our free course They Ask, You Answer fundamentals with Marcus Sheridan, and start building your strategy today. 

We’ve helped thousands of businesses learn and implement this process, which has resulted in unimaginable growth.

Set up an appointment with an advisor to learn more, or book some time with our inbound marketing coaches, who will work with you one-on-one to get you started on your They Ask, You Answer journey.

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