So what is inbound marketing? It’s the bait on the end of a fishing rod; the gravity between a prized object and the ground below; the headline act at the big summer music festival. It’s the light bulb to the house fly, the headlights to the rabbit, the honey pot to the bear. It’s a magnet, a pied piper, a temptress’ wink, a siren’s call, a snake charmers song. If you want to go all biblical, it’s the apple in Eden.
Ok, you get the idea, inbound basically gravitates your target market towards you, rather than the other way around. It’s the most cost effective way of generating quality B2B leads that grow your sales figures, your bottom line and, ultimately, your business.
How does this black magic work?
Well there’s no subterfuge, distraction, misdirection or hypnosis involved. Free donuts and coffee are optional. There are no magicians, nor smokescreens. It’s actually really transparent, accountable and surprisingly simple - in theory anyway; in practice there is lots of upfront planning and strategising and background analytics to monitor and tweak in realtime, but we’ll deal with those another time.
You start off with identifying your target audience.
Get under their skin, inside their heads and know exactly what it is that keeps them awake at night. The problems that your products or services will solve. But hold off with the big sales pitch. Now is not the time. You don’t get down on bended knee on a first date, right? Your buyer persona research helps inform your content marketing. This lies at the heart of the inbound, pumping out a steady stream of educational, engaging and empowering content, in the form of relevant and timely blogs, articles, infographics, slideshares, videos, reviews, immersive virtual reality 3D holograms, whatever… As long as the content is ranked high on search results when and where your target audience is looking for answers.
Which brings us to another inbound foundation stone, SEO.
Inbound and SEO is a bit like the chicken and egg. But that’s for another day’s discussion. Over time, all this informative and helpful content and practical advice gradually gets you noticed, raising your profile over social channels; LinkedIn and Twitter in particular. The goal is to eventually become recognised as an industry thought leader. Your target audience will become familiar with your commentary and your opinion. You’ll now find that people will follow up on your articles and click through to download more and more content, happily exchanging contact details in return.
Over time, you earn the trust of your target audience.
Now that you have them in the ‘funnel’, more and more content can be personalised and conveniently sent to their inbox. By now your audience will be familiar with your offering, so you can start to ramp up your credentials with richer experiences that highlight exactly why your product/service really is the best option to solve your individual pain points and help you sleep at night. All this time you’ve you’re behind the scenes and tracked every moment, every interaction, every email clicked and every page landed on.
All that’s left is to clear time in your schedule to close the sale when the phone rings.
What plans do you have in place to generate quality leads to meet your fourth quarter targets. Inbound? The power of positive thinking? Human sacrifice? Let us know your thoughts. If you want to delve a little deeper into the world of inbound, download our free ‘Intro to Inbound’ eBook.