If you think SEO is the abbreviation for an airport, then you’re in big trouble. If you think customer-focused marketing is about deciding which segment of customers to SPAM, then you’re in big trouble. If you think you need to get some “more of the twitter,” then you’re in really big trouble!
The simplest definition of Inbound Marketing is to attract new customers. And you can’t do that with boring, promotional content. You can’t do it without engaging with your prospects in the earliest stages of their buying cycle, and on social channels. And you can’t do it without helpful content that isn’t properly placed on the channels your prospects are using.
The keys to inbound marketing success are search, social and great content that allow you to get found, get shared and gain the trust your prospects are looking for in a new business relationship…
How Marketers Market
The problem all starts with what I like to call “linear” thinking. As marketers, we have a product to sell. So we immediately think that the best way to sell it is to talk about it. Here’s what most of us marketers do:
- We identify “targets” based on flat labels that don’t accurately represent our customers
- We “position” our products vs. the competition
- We identify key “messages” for audience segments (industries, functions, sizes of company)
- We combine a series of promotional “tactics” like emails, webinars, events and cold calling “campaigns”
- We get lucky and sell some stuff
The problems with this approach start with the fact that this is the biggest mistake marketers make – it is all about us. It is not aligned with the way our buyers think. And it is increasingly ineffective as prospects tune out our unwanted messages.
How Buyers Buy
Our prospects are people (not labels) who have families and bosses and stressful jobs. They don’t want to be sold to or talked at and they don’t have time for marketers who only care about themselves. Here’s what most buyers do:
- They think about the best way to achieve their business’ objectives
- They identify the obstacles, challenges and risks to achieving those objectives
- They search for answers to the questions those obstacles, challenges and risks pose
- They make decisions about the best path to help them achieve their objectives
- Sometimes, this process leads to the purchase of a product or solution
So where our prospects are looking for answers to questions, we give them promotions they don’t want. The key is to balance your inbound and outbound lead generation correctly.
Inbound Marketing = Get Found
In order to deliver the answers to your buyers’ questions, you need:
- A content strategy that identifies all the content that answers your customers top questions in all the places they search for it, for all stages of the buyer journey, for all the types of buyers you serve
- You need a search strategy that effectively places that content in all the places they search for it
- You need content that is engaging enough to get shared
- You need a conversion or nurture path that maps to the buyer journey by offering the right content to the right person at the right time.
Tips To Effective Inbound Marketing
Here are just a few tips to review the above and to help get you started:
- Stop making your content all about you.
- Freeze your investment in outbound promotion.
- Identify the keywords your customers use. If it isn’t a top keyword, it isn’t a customer need.
- Create content that tells a story. Use your customers to help you.
- Identify and cultivate relationships with your top influencers. Have them help you tell stories.
- Test and learn what types of content gets shared.
- Optimize your efforts to the content, channels and buyers who convert
OK, so I tried to create a little scratch doodle to visualize what I am trying to say here about the disconnect between marketers and our audience. I am a terrible artist so be nice, but please tell me if this article helps? If the picture helps? Or if you disagree?