3 Ways Inbound Marketing Can Help Grow Your Business by Amanda Pensack

This is a great post I saw on Social Media Today that enhances understanding on Inbound Marketing. 

Post by: Amanda Pensack Marketing Director, ECM Solutions

Posted on October 27th 2014

3 Ways Inbound Marketing Can Help Grow Your Business

“Think back to the last time you were driving on a highway and saw a massive billboard with a slogan, company logo or even a call to action displayed in oversized letters. Did you pick up your phone immediately and call the company? Check ‘em out on Facebook? Visit their website? Or did you continue on with your drive, only to block the billboard’s message out of your mind altogether because you were more focused on finding the right radio station to listen to?

This is a prime example of a failed attempt at an outbound marketing tactic. Think about those “in your face” ads you see everyday: those banner ads on the sides of buses while you’re sitting in traffic, the seemingly shout-y car salesman on your television, the giant logo taking up half of the Sunday paper. Does this style of marketing entice you to research more about the product being advertised?

Probably not. Outbound marketing targets the masses and not the ideal target audiences like inbound marketing. With the exception of achieving brand or logo recognition (which, don’t get me wrong, is still important when branding yourself), outbound marketing typically eats up your marketing dollars faster than you can say, “Where are my results?”

What many businesses today don’t know, however, is that a successful marketing plan doesn’t need to target the masses in order to see a return. It shouldn’t target the masses, but rather focus on creating quality content that pulls people toward your product or service; where they naturally want to be. This form of marketing is known as inbound marketing. Below are 3 tactics on how inbound marketing can help grow your business and drive results immediately:

1.     Harness the power of building a community

You’re a business. You sell a product or service. And, most importantly, you have customers. Customers are a brand’s best advocates because they already trust your brand. They chose YOUR business to buy from, not your competitor’s. They already believe in your brand; otherwise they wouldn’t be your customers. Rather than spending valuable marketing dollars on attracting the wrong type of customer, harness the power of your ideal consumer and build a community focused around their wants and needs. By establishing a buyer persona and nailing down your customer’s wants, needs, and yes, even fears, you will be able to come up with a solution to market to your customers. It is a brand’s job to fulfill their customer’s needs and wants with their products or services. Figuring out our consumer’s fears will help answer how to give them better “peace of mind”. By putting ourselves in the shoes of our consumers, we will be able to better understand our consumers, resulting in the creation of a specific consumer centered community. This is the first ingredient of inbound marketing’s secret sauce. Harness the power of building a community that loves your brand.

2.     Lure in your prospects through tailored content creation

In order to harness the power of building a customer-centric community, successful inbound marketers must lure in more prospects through waves of content. What do I mean by this exactly? Creating valuable content that drives traffic will keep your prospect coming back for more. By offering consumers “nuggets” of advice, knowledge, or answers to their questions—all relating to your industry—people will naturally gravitate towards your brand. Why? Because as a marketer, you are filling a void with tailored content that applies directly to your consumer. Successful marketers are ones who are able to vary up their marketing tactics to increase interest in a brand. Those companies that take advantage of creating a mini-series, for example, by means of blogging, vlogging, ebooks, infographics, etc. will get people talking. Once prospects are interested in learning more about your business, hook them in with communication and engagement. (See my previous Social Media Today post on “3 Ways to Craft an Effective Marketing Plan for Your Business” here for more on brand engagement). All of these steps lead to the ultimate goal every marketer strives to achieve for their brand: establishing trust. Once a prospect fully understands and trusts your brand, it’s only natural for them to turn into a paying client.

3. Actually be SOCIAL on social media!

Thanks to early social media pioneers like Mark Zuckerberg, we have a near infinite number of social networks available at our fingertips. However, it’s how marketers actually utilize these networks that plays a major role in how inbound marketing can help grow a business. The concept of social media is simple: connect with people online to grow your network. Unfortunately, this concept has somehow gotten lost over time. Brands who become so focused on their selves and getting their message across, tend to ultimately forget about what social media can do for their business simply by engaging with their audience. In my professional opinion, one company who does a great job of staying social on social media is US Airways. If you check out US Airways on Twitter (@USAirways), their feed is constantly addressing the questions, comments and concerns of their customers. They are, in essence, being social on social media. If someone’s flight is delayed and an angry consumer tweets to their account, typically within minutes US Airways is responding to their tweet with more information that usually includes the employee’s initials who will be helping with the situation and even a phone number to call.  Now let’s play devil’s advocate. On the other hand, what if US Airways decided to ignore their customers and simply posted generic and self-promoting tweets? What if US Airways used social media as a one-way tunnel of communication and ignored their followers when they had questions, comments or concerns about their travel plans? Would you still want to follow them on social media? In conclusion, brands need to learn to stay social on social media if they want to see an increase in brand interest and build relationships.

In conclusion, inbound marketing is about providing added value and earning customer loyalty rather than pounding a message into consumers’ heads and hoping it will stick. By learning to harness the power of building a consumer-centric community, luring in prospects through tailored content creation, and remembering to stay social on social media, brands will ultimately see big results through inbound marketing. Not to mention, your wallet will thank you when you are saving marketing dollars on inbound tactics that have a proven success rate versus “wider-net but less targeted” outbound marketing methods. So what do you think—is your company “in” with inbound?”

 

Disclaimer: I did not write this post. I shared it from Amanda Pensack Marketing Director, ECM Solutionssocial media today.  http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/3-ways-inbound-marketing-can-help-grow-your-business

Content Marketing- Why do it? How?

content

Content Marketing… 

Do you know what it is? Practice it? If content marketing is new to you, it’s time to jump on board. It’s an effective way to connect with your target market whether you’re a B2C or B2B. Below are a list of content marketing positives written by Paul Pruneau President, Teamworks Communications, Inc.. 

  • Permanency
    Unlike old school media or advertising, once you publish on the internet, the content remains in place for virtually forever.
  • Increased value over time
    The more assets that you publish and deploy the faster they accumulate and accrue in value. It’s a fact that brands that have more than 100 posts generate 3X more leads than those that never publish new content to their site.
  • SEO
    Assets that are optimized for search ensure that they’ll be found. And if you follow best SEO practicesthe opportunity increases that your content will continually be moving up the search engine results page.
  • Thought leadership
    People and brands that publish frequently and consistently foster credibility and earn trust when they address the needs of their customers.
  • Supporting & building community
    People look to those who are helpful and want to connect with others who have been helped with similar needs. Consistently publishing content that is easy to share ensures that what you create has increased pass along value by those that actually consume it.

[Read more at: What Content Should You Create?]

I obviously agree with all of the above. Now you know the why you should practice content marketing for your business. Let’s dab into the how.

The how is simple, yet complicated. Create relevant and consistent material and publish it to your social media platforms, website or blog. Note the words relevant and consistent. You may stray from the path every now and then, but for the most part, stick to what you know your audience likes. Start with you. Yes, I’m telling you to promote your business but not in a traditional way. Converse with your audience. Encourage them to engage with you. Ask them how they are, how their last visit to your store was, etc. Post your holiday decorations, employees’ birthdays- be Human- but also post “how to” and helpful content. Don’t make it all about you. Think of content like your side of a conversation with a person.

Consistency is also key. Have a consistent voice, personality. You may already naturally.

Always remember that this is your business or company. It’s not a place to air grievances. Be positive & helpful!