empty stadium seats
PHOTO: Paul Bergmeir

There’s no debate today about whether blogging works or not. Studies show that inbound marketing can deliver a high volume of leads. However, inbound marketing isn’t exactly a silver bullet. Just because it works well for one type of company with one type of product trying to reach one type of customer, doesn’t mean it will work well for you.

Here’s why problems pop up and what you should do when they happen.

Where Inbound Marketing Commonly Fails

Inbound marketing can work well for most companies in the long run, as long as you plan for:

  1. How long it will take to pay off (years).
  2. Knowing it doesn’t always attract the right type of buyer.

New companies don’t always have the luxury of waiting around for a few years for enough inbound leads to flood their salespeople's inboxes.

And other content-based campaigns like blogging or webinars almost never get to hard-to-reach people that need to sign off on six or seven-figure deals (think: lawyers, CEOs, etc.). These people barely have enough time to answer an email, let alone attend a webinar for a full hour (or longer).

Blogging acts like a net, helping you to attract and catch people who may one day need what you sell. But like fishing, you’re also going to catch a lot of stuff that will never, ever convert. Instead of tossing out some bait and waiting around for a nibble, you need to go spearfishing.

Related Article: Beware the Inbound Marketing Trap

How You Can Generate High-Ticket Leads (Instead of Inbound Marketing)

In "Predictable Revenue," Aaron Ross writes about how his team generated over $100 million for Salesforce in new recurring revenue. They did that by first qualifying the types of companies who need what they do, and then conducting outreach to get introductions to the right person inside each large organization. That sounds easy enough on the surface, right?

Call it account-based marketing or just call it good direct sales. The concept is simple: you need to directly get in touch with the right types of buyers through email, phone calls, direct mail or conferences.

The problem is most marketers don’t do enough of these activities quickly enough. High-ticket deals can take months to close. The revenue you’re booking this month actually comes from the work you did over the past three months (or longer).

The reality is you can’t just focus on increasing the top of your funnel like most marketers and advertisers do. Everyone’s familiar with reach and frequency. Reach is the number of new unique people, while frequency is the number of times you reach the same person.

Direct marketing and selling place a greater emphasis on increasing frequency, instead of reach. It transitions you from mass, one-to-many tactics to one-to-one tactics as quickly as possible. Because the data is pretty clear no matter where you look:

And anyone who’s ever had to sell anything will tell you how much easier it is to close face-to-face than through a digital alternative.

All of these activities are labor intensive. You won’t be able to reach the same number of people, as easily as throwing up a few blog posts. But instead of impressions or eyeballs, you’ll get something much more valuable in return — more sales-ready leads who can turn into new revenue tomorrow.