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“If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later.”
Those are famous words by Mark Twain and, sometimes, marketing in the channel can be very similar. Practices and techniques that have been around for years in other industries are just now starting to make their way into our world. For those who are up to date on marketing, this is a huge advantage, as you can be an early adopter of these practices and capitalize early.
Inbound marketing is not new but there are not many in the industry who are doing it or doing it well. The reality is that consumers are continually changing, and our marketing techniques must keep up with their buying habits. Updating your marketing practices to includes inbound strategies will be crucial to continue to see growth and success.
Traditional marketing (also called outbound) relies on the use of ads, emails, and other activities to get the attention of prospective customers. In the past, companies that were able to capture the attention or disrupt the customer was considered successful. Think about how TV commercials or website banner ads are a disruption. They are sent out with the goal of being in front of thousands of people with the hope that a small few find interest and react to the call to action. The problem is very few of the eyes that see your ad will belong to people that are in need of your product or service.
This is where inbound marketing solves your problem. People are actively searching the internet to learn about your products and services, and you will be ready for them. As the name suggests, you want customers coming to you. The goal is to be the resource that they find when they do that search. You educated potential customers through the use of blog, e-books, case studies, etc. All of this has to be created and provided to the potential customer – normally in exchange for their contact info. If can educate them on the subject matter, you can sell to them. Once you have them into your system, you can utilize traditional marketing (banner ads, email, newsletters, etc).
Educate Rather Than Sell
As stated above, inbound marketing relies heavily on the ability to be an educational resource for potential and current customers. By providing tools and resources to help them learn about new products and services, they will instinctively trust you and your company. This trust and exchange of information is the foundation for inbound marketing. You bring value to the customer when you help them in ways that other companies are not willing or able to do. This shift is not easy; most companies are still selling with the mindset that they are the gatekeeper to the information. This method does not work because so much information is readily available online and the customer is going there first to self-educate prior to choosing a company. It is critical to understand how this shift impacts how your company goes to market. You must become educators rather than marketers and sales people.
It Takes Time
Like most things in life, this is not an overnight change. It may take months to start to see results from inbound marketing. This is directly related to how the internet (and Google) works. A new site with new content will not get a high ranking on searches; it will take time for Google to recognize that your website is legitimate and the content is relevant.
During this time, it is important to do paid marketing activities to drive online searches to your site. This will most likely always be a part of your overall strategy but it is very important in the beginning to help build momentum.
The point is that you must not give up on inbound marketing if the results are not immediate. Be patient and consistent. Follow your strategy and work hard to change the mindset of your company to have the biggest benefit.
Everything changes. The companies that are able to capitalize on the changes will become stronger and more successful. Marketing has shifted and many companies are now focused on using inbound marketing to find highly qualified leads for their sales team.