Does inbound marketing sounds like a buzz word? This article will make this term seem less foreign, I promise.
Can you answer yes to any of the following three questions?
- Are you ramping up your business?
- Are you trying to attract new clients?
- Are you wanting to be more ‘findable’ to potential customers when they search for a service you provide?
If the answer is yes to any of these questions, keep reading!
The internet is a noisy medium, right? So how can your business be found online?
New content is being added to the internet at a staggering pace, so how can you, your business, and your brand be found in all that noise?
Be warned, inbound marketing as a strategy is not hard, but is there is a commitment that has to be made
I think some business owners are scared off by needing to be ‘everywhere’ online, they feel overwhelmed by building a website and putting themselves out there on social media, but by following a few simple actions and behaviors, you can do it.
Before we go on, one more question, do you know what the term inbound marketing means?
If not, I am excited and happy to tell you my definition and how I think inbound marketing is a powerful tool for helping position your business to achieve any of the three objectives asked at the very beginning of this article.
First, let’s define outbound marketing so we know what inbound marketing is not. Outbound marketing is defined as traditional advertising, going to trade shows, print media, cold calling and telemarketing, purchasing potential client lists and doing email blasts. In other words, it is a business putting themselves out into the world with the hopes that their offerings will be found by potential customers. All these techniques cost money and the people you are targeting might not always welcome your come-ons. Simply put, it is interruptive to your potential clients.
Inbound marketing defined
Inbound marketing on the other hand is the technique of generating helpful content that is relevant to a specific targeted niche. When members of that niche find your content, they learn and understand that your marketing materials speak their language. Consumers find this content and come to trust you as a credible business solution.
Contrary to outbound marketing practices, with inbound marketing potential customers are seeking you out and at the time they find you, they are ready for answers and possibly ready for the services you provide. As the creator of inbound marketing materials you address a business need or business problem of your potential customers. Because you provide a clear solution, you position yourself as a subject matter expert. Finally, when a business in your targeted niche needs help in solving a business problem, you are the natural and logical solution.
Inbound marketing in practice
Okay, so you see the value of inbound marketing for your business and you want to do it yourself, great! But what does that mean day-to-day?
Here are three inbound marketing practices that when done correctly strongly position you and ultimately attract your ideal customers.
- Practice 1: Have a blog and provide top-notch content
- Practice 2: Search Engine Optimzation (SEO)
- Practice 3: Engaging in social media and sharing
Let’s look at each below.
Practice 1: Have a blog and provide top-notch content
But wait, blogging? I have some objections!
- Do people really read blogs?
- What business owner has the time to regularly contribute to a blog?
- Do I really have to do this?
The answer is yes, yes, and yes!
Lets take each objection one at a time.
- Do people really read blogs? Absolutely. When you are hungry for an answer to a specific question you want to read about the experience of someone else who had the same exact question in the past and who took the time to share their experience. You read what they have to say and it informs you. This content gets you closer to an answer. It comforts you that someone else at one time was in your exact same place pondering the same exact question.
- What business owner has the time to regularly contribute to a blog? Great question. We are all so busy in our lives. We have our businesses to run, our families to care for, and our time is precious and scarce. There are tools that can help you produce content on a regular basis. Don’t have a website or blog? WordPress can easily provide you both. Don’t know what to blog about? Subscribe to a news aggregator like Feedly which will give you relevant, up-to-the-minute insights about what is being discussed in the niche you serve. Create a content calendar that helps you make a commitment to producing a blog post on a regular basis. Carve out a time each week for this work. You can start off slow. Consider committing to making a high impact blog post once a month. In a year’s time you will have twelve solid examples of why you are a trusted, knowledgable, go-to-person serving your client base.
- Do I really have to do this? If you want customers to find you organically on the web, if you want to position yourself as an organization that can help customers with their specific business need, and if you want to convert potential clients into leads, then yes you really have to do this and guess what, you can even make it fun! Keep reading.
I said this could be fun, here is how
- Make it diverse. You can easily add graphical content to your blog posts. Use content from Canva, Stencil, Pexels, and iStock. Add a video to your post. There isn’t a need to have high production video. Often low-fi videos get the most traction. Remember, message is more important than presentation. You can record yourself on your phone or computer, upload it to YouTube and embed it right on your post. This humanizes you to your potential customer and that is a foundation where trust can flourish. Don’t know how to do all this? Follow someone like Sunny Lenarduzzi on YouTube to learn how to quickly and easily do all of this and make it fun!
- The more you write the better you will feel, trust me, it is true. You know that expression, the best way to master a topic is to teach it? When you have to write a message to the world, you refine that message, make it better, solidify it to yourself and in turn, you will feel more comfortable as the authority to deliver that solution to your customer.
Practice 2: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The topic of SEO flows naturally from the points about content above. So you have created great content, now what? Will search engines just naturally find your content and present it to those online who are looking? Maybe, but maybe not.
You can give your valuable content a helping hand by structuring it in a way that search engines can understand and thereby helping that content be found more easily.
For example, do the assets in your content have meaningful information attached to them like images with relevant names and do videos with captions? Is your content structured in a hierarchical way? To help you set this up you can use free tools that analyze your content in real time and give you guidance about how to write it the best way possible.
Practice 3: Engaging in social media and sharing
Sharing your valuable, well crafted content on social media allows you to put your name in places where your ideal customers will be able to consume it. Posting regularly on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and niche specific social sites shows others that you are engaged, available, and knowledgeable. Do you have a list of past and perspective clients? Great, send them a weekly email with a link to your blog post and include some relevant industry specific articles that you found during the week.
Does inbound marketing sound like it is something you can handle? Like I said above, it takes some commitment, but is not a Herculean task.
Remember that you can start slow. If you aren’t on social media, start there. Get an account and start doing some searching on what others are doing on those platforms. You will learn the ropes quickly.
Best to you on your journey of establishing yourself as a subject matter expert in your industry and naturally and organically attracting new customers to your business!