Marketing used to be, well actually still is, all about interrupting people during their online experience. This may be after they click some interesting link or while watching a 30 second ad on YouTube. That is traditional marketing as it is currently delivered, you’re shouted at by marketing professionals.
But is there anything different?
Inbound Marketing is the latest strategy in digital marketing. But, how does it work?
That link you went to when searching for something on Google, that blog post you read, that was inbound. But what else did you see? You saw an additional link to get more information, an eBook, a webinar.. Something that caught your eye! That is inbound marketing, done right. Giving away that additional information, will create trust, it creates a sense of authority, and that is what people who may eventually become your customers will react to. You have so much information about a subject, that you are willing to give it away, in useful blog posts, in eBooks and so on.
Your customers do not want to be sold to, they want to be educated in a simple and useful way. Giving them the answers to those questions is what is at the heart of Inbound Marketing.
Inbound is a fundamental shift in the way marketing takes place, it empowers your customers to get the information that they need, any time they need it. You should have a site that provides a reliable and trusted source of information, and is not constantly trying to sell to them. They also need to have a good experience at the same time. You need to start the conversation with your customers, be the leader and they will reward you with the sale.
When you move away from interrupting people with ads, and move to real inbound marketing, by creating content, having a discussion with them and offering your knowledge base for free, that is what creates buyers.
When you last went looking for information, you went to Google, you put in a search and then, if you’re like most people, you opened up 5 or so tabs and went through the top 5 pages to see if you could get your question answered. Then you found a little bit about what you were wanting, then revised your search, and did the same thing again.
You go to multiple sites, you review the information, compare prices, evaluate features, seek out reviews, watch testimonials on YouTube, but not necessarily the ones from the company you’re assessing, and then you made up your mind about what you were going to buy.
You may have even gone on social media sites like Facebook or Line Chat, then contacted some people you know whose opinion you trust, and asked them their thoughts. They may have told you what you already know through your research, or pointed you in a different direction which started the whole process off again, but that essentially, is how 99% of the purchase decisions are made today.
All that is done long before you contacted the sales person, before you sent that first email to them. That is not how it was 10 years ago though. Sales people were the keepers of that information, you couldn’t Google that information, you had to make the call, talk to the sales people and make your decision then.
Not anymore! Now you as a seller, you need to empower the users with that information, you need to provide as much purchase decision information as you can, because, if you like it or not, the users are going to do this anyway. If you’re holding back info, if you’re not answering their questions, if you’re not giving them prices, then they will go somewhere else. And if 5 out of ten suppliers are doing the opposite, giving that information away, then you and your 4 old school sales buddies are out of the race. There and then, done, over, finite…..
Now that this has given you a wake up call, you need to move to an inbound marketing strategy now. But how?
Let’s play out a little scenario. You’re at a dinner party and you only know 1 of the three people that you are dining with. You find out that they are both lawyers, one called Bob and the other called Sam and it just so happens that you are in need of some advice, so you ask them both a question.
Sam starts to answer your question, then Bob butts in, loudly, telling you that he is a lawyer and that he can answer every question that you need answered, that he has been in the business for over 20 years, and has a team of dedicated staff. He then shouts his website, email and phone number at you…..
Then Sam, after patiently waiting for bob to sit back down, calmly answers your question in full, gives you his card and says that he can send you a detailed document on that subject if you want, just shoot him an email and his office will send you the document, and that is it.
Now tell me, if you were in that situation and you were thinking about who to go to when you needed to pay for services, who would you go with? The guy that shouted at you but offered no help and just tried to sell to you, or the guy that gave you everything you needed to know, when you needed to know it and also offered up something more with no expectation for anything? Sure his office may have sent you one or two emails afterwards, especially if you went onto his website again and looked up a different answer.. But those emails were related to what you were looking for anyway.
Now tell me this, if that was you, the reader of this post, what would you do? Then tell me if you think that your customers are any different?
That is the power of inbound marketing. It takes longer, is harder work, but you get a FAR more qualified lead on every enquiry and you will get FAR more leads than Bob in the future!