Modern Marketing 101
Attention marketers, PR professionals and small business owners! We're about to let you in on a huge secret, which is that traditional interruption marketing strategies are becoming less effective. The way people connect and share information has recently undergone an enormous shift, and it’s time to adapt to the latest changes. The latest buzzword used to describe the new best way of connecting with your future clients is "inbound marketing."
No, it's not a newfangled trend that will be replaced in another 6 months. Even though Facebook has replaced Myspace, websites, blogs and social media networks as a major highway for modern interactions aren't going anywhere fast. Put on your learning caps and join us for an overview of the basics of Inbound Marketing.
So, What is Inbound Marketing?
Traditional marketing methods, which those in the know refer to as outbound marketing, have typically included direct mail, cold calling, billboards, TV and Radio Ads, and email blasts to a purchased list of names. Over time, these methods have become less effective because we’ve become experts at blocking them out. Whether it's caller ID, the FTC Do Not Call list, email spam filters, NetFlix or Sirius satellite radio, blocking traditional marketing methods has become a serious industry in it's own right. Additionally, the Internet continues to grow as a major highway for learning, exploring and connecting with our friends. We're more like to hit Google for information on major trends, and less likely to invest in an expensive trade show or seminar for learning the latest.
Inbound Marketing is known as permission marketing, because it's less about bombarding people with cold calls during the dinner hour and more about optimal positioning. Inbound marketing is about helping yourself get found by people who have made the choice to learn a little bit more about your industry. Permission marketing is based on content that attracts and nurtures prospects, as opposed to commercials, spam, billboards or phone calls that interrupt them.
Who Are You Reaching, Anyway?
A good way to decipher the two types of marketing is to think of outbound marketing as a machine gun and inbound as a sniper rifle. With a machine gun ,the shots are less targeted and once in a while you'll hit your target. On the other hand, a sniper rifle is more focused and it takes far less effort to hit the target. While this example might be a little strong, with traditional marketing methods you're always going to be spending money trying to reach people who just don't care. They don't need your product, they're never make the purchase, but they're still reached by your television advertisement or direct mail drop. Blogs, podcasts, videos, eBooks, eNewsletters, white papers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing are considered more targeted and effective at reaching people who already care.
Does Inbound Marketing Really Work?
Marketing software company Hubspot’s research has shown that companies that blog have 50 percent more website visitors than those that don’t and inbound marketing leads cost around 60 percent less on average. On the contrary, 86% of people skip through television commercials and 44% of direct mail is never opened. The reality is that Inbound Marketing drives more traffic and qualified leads, generates real customers, and is less expensive. What small business owner doesn't want to spend less money on their marketing with bigger and better results?
What Caused this Cultural Shift?
The internet has been the driving force behind this paradigm shift. Consumers no longer even need to rely on billboards and TV spots to learn about new products and services to solve their needs. Thanks to major search engines like Google, performing basic research before making a purchase has become more of an independent, self-directed venture than ever before. With the rise of social media networks, consumers have been given a voice to provide feedback on great and not-so-great customer service experiences. New marketing dialogue has now become a two-way conversation between clients and brands, and traditional interruption marketing is being ignored.
Is This a Good Thing for My Small Business?
Absolutely. More than ever, consumers are taking purchase decisions into their own hands and using the Internet to find solutions. All marketers have to do position themselves optimally to get found by their future clients. This means building an effective website, maintaining a blog and an active presence on major social media networks. Use your online presence as a platform for showcasing your expertise, and actively invite your consumers to engage. Take the time to build relationships, find ways to provide value, answer their questions and enjoy the ease of letting your business come to you.
Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles