Traditional means of generating new business has been a major pain in the ass for companies trying to scale, as well as companies who are just starting off.
When you’re trying to raise awareness and attract a great audience that fits your brand, who has the time and energy (and money) to try and build a large brand following? Enter: Inbound Marketing.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Most people look at traditional marketing as various forms of branding and advertising to raise awareness.
In contrast, inbound marketing is about defining your core audience, writing specific content tailored to their pains, goals, and challenges, and distributing that content in areas where these prospects are going to find information.
The idea is to attract these leads through tailored content, then provide an opportunity for them to convert into becoming a subscriber or lead by exchanging their information for something in return.
This can be a free guide, a free trial, a whitepaper, a webinar, a product sample, or any number of things that deliver value to your prospects, completely free of charge.
From there, it’s up to you to nurture these leads into closing opportunities through specific content and tailored marketing automation.
There should be a clear and obvious point when you want the sales team to enter the picture and essentially close them. Lastly, it’s up to your team to then delight those new closed customers into becoming raving promoters and evangelists of your brand.
Outbound Marketing Is A Dying Trend
Outbound marketing (also known as traditional marketing) is slowly becoming a way of the past.
Smart companies doing these strategies have shifted away from cold calling, direct mail, TV advertising, black hat SEO, and other outdated tactics, to focusing on new digital strategies that really do work, like content marketing, inbound, tailored and target social advertising, and more.
Why? Because people turn off marketing channels when they become noisy and cloudy with things they don’t want to engage with.
We lost TV commercials in the early 2000s with the introduction of recorded television and being able to fast forward through obnoxious advertisements.
Now, People are streaming their favorite content through new media like Netflix and Hulu - completely avoiding the marketing channels all together. But… brands still spend 100s of millions on TV advertising each and every year. Is that smart?
Why spend money in a place where your target audience is engaged? Why spend money in a place where no one wants to hear from you?
Outbound is like blasting your marketing through a megaphone at an audience who has no interest in understanding what you’re saying, vs. inbound acting as a magnet, pulling people to you because they are generally attracted to the content you’re producing.
Build Trust And Authority
When your brand is a trusted resource that people are willingly choosing to engage with, you are absolutely getting them “hooked” on the content you’re producing.
Look at HubSpot for an example. Not only does HubSpot do a fantastic job of teaching people about their product through their website, but they’ve become an extremely trusted resource on anything related to sales and marketing.
Customers and prospects alike continue to revisit their resources and blogs to engage and learn about trends and topics that help them perform their jobs better. In order to do this for yourself, you will need to become this resource for your industry.
People are already actively looking up information about what you do and about your industry. Fill the gap by answering their questions.
Measure Your Marketing And Prove It’s Working
What most companies don’t do is provide insight into metrics and measurements that show how effective their marketing strategies might be.
Many businesses simply show what the marketing budget was for the previous year, and use that number to point to the amount of revenue that was brought in. But is that enough?
If you had the capacity to track what kind of efforts and content produced the highest number of leads (and going even further, qualified leads) wouldn’t you want to focus on that kind of marketing?
Likewise, if you could point out that efforts your company is investing in is actually not product fruit of any kind, wouldn’t you want to abandon or shift from those marketing endeavors all together?
These are important things to explore, and this is why inbound marketing is such a viable solution - it’s 100% trackable.
Shift to leading your prospects through the funnel
Imagine you’re in the market for making a purchase.
Are you more likely to buy from a company with sales people obnoxiously reaching out to you when you’ve got a hundred other things going on?
Or would you be more likely to make a purchase on products you’re looking up yourself, comparing against the competitors, and researching on your own in your free time?
What brand would you trust more - a brand that gives you ample opportunity to read and watching information when you’re ready?
Or a brand that tries to force you to hear what they have to say? The answer is obvious.
With inbound, not only do you have the potential to produce information tailored specifically to the buying cycle of your visitors, but you can help control the flow of information to the buyers when they are most likely to consume it.
This is called “the Buyer’s Journey,” and it’s how smart companies help grow their brands.
You wouldn’t feed a first time visitor of your site comparison guides between you and your competitors if this is the first time they’ve ever heard of you or your solution.
They don’t even know if you solve their problem yet!
The first thing you should do is get on their level and walk through the “awareness” stage, offering content that helps them understand the problem at hand while introducing the possible solutions as it relates to their goals and challenges.
From there you would walk them through the “consideration” stage, which would help them start to evaluate if they need a service/product such as yours, or a completely different solution.
And lastly once they realize they need your solution, they are in the “decision” stage.
At this point, it’s your duty to help them see the value in working with you over a different competitor.
Because you build the funnel, you can offer tailored content through automated workflows, smart content (changing out information on your website once you identify the lifecycle stages of the visitors), and feeding different information via social media.
This allows your prospects to have a completely tailored and helpful experience, as opposed to blasting them with your own personal marketing messages of buy, buy, buy.
Align Sales And Marketing
Lastly, aligning sales and marketing is a critical component to any business. If sales are down, marketing gets blamed for not giving enough leads.
If sales are up, sales gets the credit for closing the accounts. Where’s the love for marketers?
In order to fix this process, you have to align the marketing and sales teams, possibly through smarketing.
In this process, you’ll create a sales and marketing SLA (service level agreement) that will allow the marketing team to be accountable to the sales team, and the sales team to return the favor by being accountable as well.
This will entail creating a clear funnel and definition of the sales cycle, establishing what makes someone a Lead, a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL), and an Opportunity.
You will then establish at what point sales enters the picture, what that handoff looks like, and what the sales team is required to do for each lead that comes through this funnel. Marketing’s job is to fill that funnel with a minimum number of leads and MQLs each month in order for sales to hit their mark.
In summary, Inbound Marketing is a clear winner for a lead generation approach to attracting the right kind of customer.
Building trust, aligning your marketing and sales, creating quality content, and measuring the efforts are all signs that you’re setting your team up for success.
What other option would work better?