Do you want to become a powerful Inbound Marketing Machine and crush your rivals? If you're reading this post then chances are you do. I'm here to help you lubricate those Inbound gears and give you a foundation you can use to position your business as a thought leader and lead-generating behemoth. Inbound Marketing isn't a fancy phrase modern agencies use to WOW potential clients, it's a real strategy for marketing online that delivers tangible results. Here are seven Inbound Marketing tips to help you conquer your competition and attract new leads to your business.
1. Don't Broadcast - Solve Problems
What do you hate most about watching TV or listening to the radio? I'm willing to bet all the tea in China that it's the commercials. No one likes being interrupted during their favorite shows. That's why so many people record their favorite shows. No one has time for Mr. Joe Blow selling golden toilet seats when Walter White is taking on the Mexican meth cartel or The Bachelor is handing out roses. The arrival of Tivo and the DVR has made this form of advertising less effective, not to mention it's hard to track results. Inbound Marketing changes this formula by attracting people to your business by solving their problem at the very time they are searching for a solution. This formula is customer centric, not marketing centric. Just makes sense doesn't it?
2. The Strategy
Now that we know we want to solve their problem, how do we do that? We do this by attracting the right people to our site with targeted content that helps answer questions they are typing into Google or other search engines. Surveys have said 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. You want to be where that 80% is looking don't you?
We want to Attract, Convert, Close, then Delight—this is called the Inbound Marketing Methodology. It's a powerful formula that positions your business as an industry leader and a problem solver. We want to pull people into the Attract, or top of the funnel phase. We do this with remarkable content. Once we have them on our site our goal is to convert them to a lead, thus moving them further down the sales funnel. The job isn't done once we convert a visitor into a lead though, now we have to close them with a different type of content. You can read more about the Inbound Marketing Methodology here.
3. Who's Problems Are We Solving?
Your business has different types of customers. Say for example you sell plumbing services, you wouldn't talk to a homeowner with frozen pipes the same way you would a contractor looking to install piping throughout a new home build. That's why you have to create what we call Buyer Personas. A Buyer Persona is a fictional character that symbolizes a certain set of demographics and habits. HomeOwner Hank has different problems than Contractor Carl and they use different terminologies when speaking about plumbing. You'll put a story to each of these personas. Dig into what makes them tick, why they do the things they do. After interviewing several HomeOwner Hanks or Contractor Carls you'll begin to see trends and problems you can address.
Content using simple to understand language will need to be created to attract people in the HomeOwner Hank group. Possibly lots of How To and DIY posts. Then on the Contractor Carl side you'll be able to use more technical terms that might relate to the home building process. Each of these Buyer Persona's will have different pain-points, it's your job to create content that speaks to them both.
4. How Do We Solve Their Problems?
Content is the heart beat of the Inbound Marketing process. Your content needs to be remarkable and it needs to be focused on solving the problems of your buyer personas.
Let's use our HomeOwner Hank and see if we can't help him out. Something your potential customer might type into Google would be, "frozen pipes." A blog post , "5 Ways to Prevent Pipes from Freezing Over," would be very useful to that person. Then, oh by the way, we can help fix your problem. Convert them with a call-to-action to move them to the next phase of becoming a customer.
5. Discovering The Buyer's Journey
Would you talk to someone that's ready to buy your services the same way as someone just looking for a solution to solve their specific problem? No. There are different stages people take when buying a product and it's called the Buyer's Journey. The Buyer's Journey is comprised of three different stages; Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. This strategy puts defined goals to each level of the typical sales funnel.
Most businesses just blast out messages that talk to people in the Decision or bottom of the funnel stage.
"Buy Now $100 OFF!" "Save 20% on New Widgets!"
People in the Awareness or the top of the funnel aren't ready for this, they are just figuring out they have a problem and how to solve it.
For example, lets say your car won't start, but your dealership only blasts out a $1500 rebate on new car purchases. The person who's car won't start isn't looking for a new car, they are trying to figure out why it won't start. They go online and do research, typing into Google, "car won't start," and they find articles, from your competition, about the reasons why a car won't start. Then at the end of the article they are prompted to fill out a contact form for the free eBook: How Cars Age. This person has now determined that the car's electrical system is to blame and that it will be less expensive to buy a new car than to fix the electrical system. Your competition emailed this lead to offer a free car diagnostic, then suggested the person test drive similar cars on their lot.
Who do you think got the sale, the person shouting out prices or the one helping solving the customers problem? It was the one building trust and moving the prospect down the Buyer's Journey.
6. Distribute with the Hub & Spoke Model
You want to be where people are. Now days people spend time online in social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These are NOT great advertising channels, but they are great places to share the remarkable top of the funnel content.
Create blog posts with useful DIY videos, take creative photos of your team in the office, show your product being used in humorous ways. Then take these posts and distribute them to your social networks. The work isn't done though, now you have to engage with people and stir the pot. Social networks are suppose to be fun and most importantly "SOCIAL." Be human, not a stuffy business.
Social Media, forums, SEO, engagement, being human, targeted email lists—all of these methods help to distribute your content, create brand advocates, and attract more people into the Awareness phase of your Buyer's Journey.
7. Becoming an Inbound Master
These are the basics of Inbound Marketing, but there's still a mountain of information and skills you need to learn before becoming a true Inbound Marketing Machine. The best place to get these magical skill is the HubSpot Academy.
Go to http://academy.hubspot.com and become Inbound Certified. They will walk you through all the ins and outs of inbound strategy with simple and engaging videos. At the end you'll take a test, and if passed, you'll be Inbound Certified. You'll feel like Superman, ready to take on the world! They even give you a cool badge to put on your LinkedIn page.
Inbound Marketing has been around for several years but most businesses are just now learning of how to use it and the benefits it brings to your business. It's not a quick process, it's a foundation. One that will position you and your business as a industry leader. Hopefully the tips listed above will help and inspire you to be come a true Inbound Marketing Machine. For a more in depth look at becoming a marketing machine please download our free Inbound Marketing Strategy ebook. It will open you up to a whole new world.