Marketing may seem like a pretty complex world but its purpose can be defined simply; it’s all about image-boosting and lead generation. In the past, outbound was the way to go – businesses would actively go searching for potential customers to sell their products to. Now, however, many see this approach as expensive and laborious. Not only that, it doesn’t always pay off.
So in steps inbound marketing. This approach is all about building relationships with the people who may well spend their money on your products or services. They may not do so straight away but that’s not the point, this is a long-term strategy. So why is it still so important in today’s consumer-led world?
Businesses have always had competition, but never before has it been so intense. It’s pretty easy to start a company these days – the internet has turned everyone into potential CEOs. This means that however you target your customers, there’s probably a similar firm down the road trying to do exactly the same thing. After all, if you can get hold of an artificially generated list of potential buyers, so can anyone.
This is where tactics like direct emailing fall down. The odd periodic promotional message is not going to set you apart from the next firm selling the same products, so think about how inbound strategies like quality content can make you stand out.
Consumers now have a lot of choice, so confidence will inevitably play a big part in most purchasing decisions. Without a certain level of trust and belief, most people just won’t be ready spend their hard-earned money. With the right inbound marketing strategies, though, you’ll be in a position to show just how well you know your industry. You want to come across as authoritative but it’s also important to become a thought-leader – there’s little point in just following in the footsteps of your peers. Building a basis of trust and understanding will be essential to your long-term success.
Of course, you could attempt this with more direct techniques but the development of trust depends largely on honesty. Use your contacts list to try and convince people that you know what you’re talking about and they may well be driven away by the obvious attempts to sell. Distribution (via social media, blogs and websites) is important but to a certain extent the target audience needs to find you naturally. You should be looking to build confidence over a period of time, not instantly.
It’s now possible to read emails wherever you are and at any time. This doesn’t, however, mean that consumers or other business leaders want to spend their spare time being persuaded to buy your products – not overtly anyway. When these people do have time to themselves, they want something that provides them with a respite from their everyday life. There are few better ways to offer this than with useful and engaging content. It’s about making them want to hear what you have to say, instead of just saying it loud enough that they hear.
Essentially marketing is now a two-way street. You must provide your target audience members with something of value before they even think of handing their money over. More than this, though, the inbound approach is about efficiency and long-term success. While an appearance at a trade show may get you a couple of promising leads from a thousand attendees, genuinely useful content will be there and ready to attract interest for years to come – the possibilities really are endless.