Have you ever been so stuck in the way things are, that the very idea of changing them, even for the better, just seems like too much to overcome? Well, you’re not alone. Today, businesses all over the globe must embrace the fact that the buyer is now in the driver's seat and perception is everything. Now, I’m not one to say that every traditional marketing tactic no longer works. I also don’t believe that digital marketing is the cure for everything. What I plan to address and advocate in this post is simple, if we want to grow our businesses, we must be ok with change, even if it hurts.
To help make my point, I am going to share a few stories about from one my clients and my own agency. I want to address how by shifting our mindset from the “fear of change” to the “opportunity of change” it has not only helped open new doors of possibility for me but my clients as well. The idea that “what got you here, won’t get you there,” is one that many of us need to embrace. This doesn’t mean to change just for that sake of change. It means having the forethought to see and feel the winds of change and the guts to do something about it. The old way of marketing our companies and selling our products and services to our customers, both in the B2B and B2C world, has completely changed. In order to create a brighter future for ourselves and our businesses, we need to embrace a buyer-driven sales cycle where we as the business owners look to serve, educate and sell ourselves throughout the process.
“This is how we’ve always done it.” This is the mantra of a business in decline. Just because you’ve always done it one way doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it now. We get so wrapped up and embedded in our past that we lose sight of the opportunities right in front of us. We create barriers to our own success because we are afraid. Fear, or the "Resistance" as Steve Pressfield calls it, is at work inside our own heads every day trying to push us back from the potential we know we have. But instead of recognizing it and addressing it, we look for something or someone else to blame.
“The boundary is in your head - not in the system” - Seth Godin (Poke the Box).
I have been running my agency since 2009. The only reason I started it was to supplement my income and give me and my wife a little extra financial breathing room. I was decent at building websites and learned how to market them, mainly using SEO. Before long I had built up a list of a few clients and my ego felt good. The problem was, I wasn’t pushing myself. Yes, I overworked, overcommitted, and was way underpaid, but I wasn’t pushing myself to grow the right way. I was busy, but I was not productive. While working 2 jobs was providing, I was miserable. Unfortunately, I was also afraid to change. The “Resistance” was telling me that if I changed, I would fail. And I believed it.
Life has a funny way of forcing you into things if you continue to resist. I eventually quit my "main job", which left my agency as my sole source of income. Oh yeah and my wife was pregnant and we had a 1-year-old. Great timing, right? I had a choice. To push past the boundaries in my head, embrace the situation I was in and leap, or go find another crappy job and end up in the same place. I chose the former. It was time for me to stop trying to be what everyone wanted me to be and finally be who I knew I was. It was time to be a professional.
“The professional cannot allow the actions of others to define his reality.” - Steven Pressfield (The War of Art)
The way I did things wasn’t going to work if I was to really turn this “side-project” into an agency. Offering “full service” solutions was going to spread me too thin and in all reality, isn’t scalable. I had to change. Boundaries don’t change unless we actually do something to change them. Especially the ones in our own heads. The brain is flexible and can be modeled and shaped. You do have a choice. And after you make that choice, you have to act!
The first thing I did was can the “full-service” gig and selected 3 areas I knew I was good at and those were going to be the only things we did. The main service was Inbound Marketing, which I know in and of itself has a number of moving parts, but I would no longer provide the individual services 'a la carte'. The second was strategic SEO link-building and the third was website design. This allowed me to focus on and develop scalable systems to grow. By actually limiting my services, I got better at what I did and am now able to charge a premium because of my expertise in these fields. As we continued to grow, I handed off more and more of the pieces until I was mostly doing only what I really wanted to do.
This was not, and is still not easy to do. Saying “no” is hard and letting go of “the way things are” is even harder. But in a world where the economy and the buyer are continually changing, the only way to succeed is to embrace the necessary changes. As a result, we have seen our revenue double year-over-year the past two years and the future is looking even brighter!
Change is much easier to make when your company is less than 10 years old. Sure you have habits, but what about a company that’s, say, more than 85 years old? Now, let me just say, you don’t stay in business that long by accident. But, there does come a point where even your legacy can’t carry you any more. So how does a company, with an almost 100-year-old legacy and some of the most technologically advanced products in the world adapt to the changing economy?
"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." - George Bernard Shaw
Bliley Technologies Inc. was born during the pioneering days of amateur radio in the US. They have a history of innovation that played a role in WWII, The Korean War, The Space Program and more. Today they are still among the worldwide leaders in the manufacturing of low noise frequency control products and play a vital role in a number of industries. While this engineering firm is amazing at what they do, their marketing was stuck in the “good ol’ days.”
With new leadership at the helm, Bliley knew that in order to bring this great company back to industry dominance, change was a must. The way things were, was not going to get them where they wanted to go. As to be expected, the idea of change for many at the company was not one they embraced with open arms. But with lofty new goals in front of them, the leadership team saw the opportunity in front of them and weren’t going to let it pass them by.
"The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that's changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” - Mark Zuckerberg
Change is never easy. We are creatures of habit, mainly because habits make us feel safe. But just ask yourself, when was the last time doing the “safe” thing ever lead to a breakthrough. The team at Bliley understood this and took a leap. We started the engagement with an Inbound GamePlan. This is where our team looks into the client's business, helps define their personas and creates messaging that we believe will resonate with their target audience. The process takes about 30 days and afterward we create a report on our findings as well as a detailed outlined strategy built specially for our client.
After looking at Bliley, their industry and defining their personas, we uncovered that there was a ton of potential using SEO and building a powerful presence using LinkedIn. Together with their team we set up a new site, on boarded them to Hubspot and started creating persona-centric content. Typically when starting and inbound campaign, we don’t expect to see results right away. But in the case of Bliley, their industry and customers were ready for something new. Leads started coming in from nearly day one and by the time we hit the 3rd month of implementation, they were seeing over 3k in visits and 67% increase in leads month-over-month.
With some things you just get the timing right. In the case of Bliley, there are a few things I think that have lead to this great early success. For one, engineers are hungry for innovation but they also research their decisions. By creating good, relevant content that addresses their needs, we’ve been able to convert at a higher rate. Second, there is no one in this vertical that is creating this level of value. Again, engineers like data. We just made it easier for them to access it. The third and most powerful reason why Bliley has seen so much success is their dedication to the process. Once they decided to change directions, they bought into it. Their team works together alongside our team for a common purpose. We stay the course and put in the work. This dedication has allowed for them to see amazing results, quickly.
So, are you stuck in “the way things are?” If you want to grow your business, now is the time to embrace change. Here’s the kicker, though, you have to choose change. While life's circumstances will continue to push and pull at you, nothing changes until you decide to change. So instead of getting to a point where the decision is nearly forced upon you, take the initiative and choose change now. The world has already changed and the way businesses connect with their prospects and clients has changed along with it. Inbound helps you start a new conversation. One built on trust and adding value to those you come in contact with. The stories highlighted in this post are just two quick overviews of what is possible. Maybe your company can be the next success story? But it's your choice!
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