Lets start off having a look at where it all began, outbound marketing. Outbound being the sort of marketing that gets into your space uninvited and shouts as loud as it can “we are the best!”. Before television a professionally designed billboard advert on the side of the road had authority. For some it might be the most colourful and interesting thing they would see all day. It’s highly produced images and words could give it’s audience clear instructions on which brands to consume and off they would go to dutifully buy them. The huge success of outbound marketing meant that there was to be more of it. Much more, and over time people started to expect better from their ads. What does it take for someone’s promotional effort to earn your full attention? Even the word FREE seems to have reached saturation point. For me personally, if a TV advert doesn’t make me laugh then it’s a none event. Someone promising me from the bottom of their hearts that their product is the best, then going on to practically beg me to buy it “now” is just demeaning for them and at best tedious for me.
The real test is B2B marketing. The business community is no fool and somewhat busy. If you’re going to persuade them to down tools and stop thinking about their immediate tasks, just so you can tell them about how great you are, you better have something good. However, if you can position yourself at exactly the right time and place with something genuinely useful, you then have a chance at starting a sales dialogue. It’s a two way street. If a potential customer is going to give you their time and energy to go through your proposal then the inbound marketer needs to be equally generous with something of immediate value to them.
Ideal positioning reduces the temptation of producing over the top content. When youre in the right place at the right time you dont have to shout, which in itself adds credibility to your message. Of course the best situation to generate a sale is when a customer comes to you and this is central to the whole concept of inbound marketing. The potential for this strategy is almost limitless. Boosting your website’s ranking on search engines using SEO keyword techniques is just one way to do this. If a customer comes to you first you are empowering them and trust is easier to build, the question is what can you offer to attract interest? Free tools, insightful research, entertainment? Social Media has evolved a society that wants to interact online and the most common way that users do this is to share content, which can include your website’s content. This can be relatively inexpensive but requires the kind of creativity that could result in your ideal customer receiving a shared article of yours from a trusted friend.
Effective inbound marketing often means that your customers interact with useful or entertaining content presented to them, but this doest mean you sit back and wait for the offers to come in. Enabling them to discover your company means a continuous effort on your part. To list exactly the types of content often used for inbound marketing would be to limit your own unique imagination. So let me leave you with this. If I feel the need to get the attention of someone who doesn’t have the time or inclination for me, I need a decent gift to make them stop and listen. If you think about your content as a gift, something more than an interesting article, what would it be?