Why I Hate Best Practices Templates When It Comes To Inbound Marketing

Is Your Business So Generic That A Template Solves Your Marketing Challenges?

Everyone is looking for quick fixes, shortcuts and the easy button to make the execution of inbound marketing tactics simpler. To support that, there’s been an influx of templates, cheat sheets, checklists and pre-formatted assets for download to help you execute your marketing and sales strategies.

This might look like the answer to your “I’m too busy to do this myself” challenge, but I’m here to tell you to proceed with caution.

After implementing hundreds of inbound client programs and hundreds of marketing automation projects, what we learned is what you already know — your business is unique. Your marketing has unique requirements and your sales process is different than every other company on the planet. Generic materials might save you time up front, but they might not produce the results you’re expecting and they’re definitely not going to help you stand out when everyone else is using the same formats.

Here are some of the major challenges associated with using other people’s assets to drive your company’s inbound marketing strategy and sales success.

There Are No Best Practices, Just The Right Practices For You

Google “best practices marketing” and you can spend the rest of the day reading articles. But the people writing those articles don’t know anything about your business, your prospects, their buyer journey or your story. Neil Patel wrote a wonderful article on the Crazy Egg blog about ignoring best practices and why. He’s right, but let’s dig into why.

Here’s an easy one. You need a blog. Ask any marketer and they’ll probably tell you about blogging and how important it is to search and conversion. They’re 100% correct. But let’s say in your situation your prospects are not readers. Or maybe they’re not on their laptops or mobile devices for a better part of the day. It’s reasonable that having a blog, writing blog articles and optimizing a blog would not be at the top of our list for your program.

Here’s a more complicated scenario. You have landing pages and you rely on those landing pages to turn visitors into leads. But what that landing page looks like, the story it tells, the feeling it evokes and the experience it delivers is going to be unique to your business and the prospects visiting that page. Short forms are best practices, but in your case a longer form might help your prospects feel like they’re getting the information you need to help them.

Every business is unique and every inbound marketing planning effort has to match the unique aspects of your prospects’ buyer journey.

Templates Don’t Save You Time In The End

You’re cruising the web and you find a blog article from an inbound agency offering you a free landing page template download. You grab it thinking, “nice, now I don’t have to build it.” You start using it and realize you’ve seen this before on your competitor’s site. Maybe that’s not horrible. More time goes by and the page isn’t converting as you expected, so now you need go in and make changes. But you didn’t build it, meaning those changes are going to take longer than you thought.

More importantly, what changes do you make? Since you didn’t build it, you don’t know exactly what the thinking was behind the elements in the template. How do you know which ones to fiddle with and which ones to keep? You need more time to figure that out, more time to build a testing strategy and more time to actually make the changes. Now that you’re done, you sit back and watch the results.

Oops, the results are moving in the wrong direction. Now what? You go back in and make more changes, followed by more crossed fingers and hoping. Hope is not a strategy. Instead of starting with a template, you should have started with your own set of theories on conversion and your own plan for the page based on what you know about your prospects, not what someone else wanted in their free template download offer.

The Thinking To Come Up With Your Own Stuff Is Important

When it comes to inbound, most practitioners are early in the game. What I mean by that is if you’re doing it for your company, this might be your first inbound program. If your agency only has a couple of inbound marketing clients, they’re still learning how to make inbound work.

The thinking that goes into the creation of the assets you need to drive leads for your company is mandatory. The more you strategize, think and plan what you’re going to do, the better the results, the smarter you’ll be and the faster your marketing will produce results.

The more shortcuts you take and the more pre-packaged campaign kits or templates you download, the less thinking you’ll be doing and the less learning you’ll be getting throughout your campaigns. Yes, you might get your stuff out faster, but you won’t know the “why” behind the assets you’re using.

It’s All About Results

I’m a bottom line kind of guy. If it produces results, I’m in. If it doesn’t, I’m out. Our clients are similar. If using this pre-packaged stuff produced results, we’d be using it, but in our experience it’s not the right advice for most clients (not all).

We all want it done yesterday. I get the desire to go fast and find shortcuts, but sometimes shortcuts don’t produce the desired results. This reminds us to stay focused on business results and business outcomes, which must be the goal of any inbound marketing program. The goal of your marketing is NOT to create emails campaigns, whitepapers, landing pages and social posts.

The goal of any marketing program and any sales enablement effort is to produce REVENUE. You want leads to turn into sales opportunities that close and become new customers and revenue for your business. An email template might save you a few hours creating the email campaign, but if it doesn’t drive leads or your competitors are using the same template, you’re going to be disappointed with the business results from that effort.

Try not to think about marketing like a commodity to be purchased at the lowest rate possible or to be delivered as quickly as possible. Instead, look at it as an investment opportunity, one that if managed properly produces massive returns month over month because it’s uniquely yours, well thought out and has an impact on your business.

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Source: Mike Lieberman

Mike Lieberman

Co-founder, President and Chief Revenue Scientist at Square 2 Marketing the only inbound marketing firm in the world that has cracked the code on how to use inbound marketing to generate leads for their clients.

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