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From Beyoncé to gardening: 6 tips for successful inbound marketing

I saw this video clip the other day by social media entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, during which he instructed his audience to "Beyoncé" their approach to social media. His exact words were: "put a f*@$#?! ring on it!"  In his own unique, if profane style, Gary was emphasizing the need to build relationships on social media, and not expect it to be a miraculous cure.

But that really can apply to any marketing activity. Whether you are using social media, attending tradeshows, or putting together a traditional advertising plan, there is no such thing as overnight success.

I prefer to liken the current state of business-to-business sales and marketing to that of gardening. It's not as sexy, I know, but having just spent the weekend clearing winter debris from the flowerbeds around my house, I am reminded that whether you're looking to develop business or grow plants, you need:

Yes, this is me, with a bug net
over my head and all!
A Plan - Whether you want a garden to make your house look nice or to grow your own vegetables, you can't just start seeding and planting anywhere, willy-nilly.  Similarly, you shouldn't jump into social media, content marketing or a website redesign without a clear goals and an understanding of how these things work together to generate inbound leads for your hotel, CVB or meetings services business. 

Commitment - The world has jumped into social media because it's "free" and it's easy.  Perhaps.  But the simplest things take commitment of time and manpower.  Just like your garden needs watering and weeding, your inbound marketing program will require consistent attention.  Yes, you can hire a gardener (a.k.a. outsource), but your commitment will simply shift from time to money.

Proper Tools - You can plant your garden with just a spade, but it'll take you a long time.  Same goes for inbound marketing; you can "rent" tools such as marketing automation and social media management tools to make your life easier.  

Fertile Soil - All the fancy tools in the world won't help you if you don't have good dirt.  In business terms it means good data.  And if you need to improve the quality of your business soil, maybe it's time for some data cleansing or list building.

Professional Advice - This weekend I noticed some beast was digging holes all over my flowerbeds.  Turning to my gardening forums I soon found out it's likely a skunk, looking for grubs.  Now I have professional advice to help me solve the problem.  If you have a stinking problem turn to a professional who not only knows the technology, but who also understands your business.

Patience - You can fertilize all you want, but you can't rush nature to produce tomatoes faster.  So it goes with building relationship with meeting and event professionals.  You need to give your inbound marketing plan time to work.  Which obviously means this isn't going to be a miracle cure if all you have is a big gaping hole.  The good news is that any sales pipeline is fixable -- with time and effort.