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!

5 Ideas for Posting on Facebook

photo

Most of my blog topics come from questions posed to me during meetings with potential or existing clients. The latest question

“How do I know what to post on Facebook?” 

The answer to this question isn’t as simple as “anything you want,” but it’s pretty close. If you’ve made it this far on my site, you’ve seen the words branding, awareness and relationship building. All three of these come to play in the creation process of your posts.

Post things that represent your brand’s voice. Build awareness around a cause you are promoting (ex. breast cancer awareness) or a new product/service you’re really excited about. Social media is not all about you you you. It’s about connecting with people. Post things of value to them. Post answers to questions you receive often. Post daily inspirations or pictures. Be interesting, informative and entertaining.

Here is a small list of ideas to help you get started.

1. Images

Images gain the most recognition on Facebook. You can post pictures of one of your daily activities that keeps the business going. A picture of one of your regular customers visiting. Pictures of different products (prices are normally appreciated). Pictures of a beautiful day. Really anything that is relevant and appropriate. Images are appreciated by your followers because they have visual value.

2. Links

I’m sure you’ve spent a ton of time on your website. Post links to certain areas of your site that your followers may be interested in. You can even post links from other sites that pertain to your subject. There are thousands of blogs out there with great content just waiting to be shared.

3. Ask a Question

Start engaging with your followers through conversations. Make sure the question is appropriate and relevant.

4. Share a Story

Did you have an exceptional experience with a customer today? Have you told your, “funny story, this is how I started this business” story yet? Your followers want to know more about you which is why they like your page. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself every once in a while, not to the extent of boredom, but be personable. Thank the customer that was kind today. Give a shout out to someone who passed along your brand name to their friend. (Avoid negativity!)

5. Engage with your Community

Did your waiter/waitress at the local cafe make an impression this morning? Are you partnering with another business for a cause? Share others’ content. Tag (mention) them in posts you write. There’s a whole community surrounding you whether it’s local or industry-related.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Posting on Facebook is like having a conversation. Keep it appropriate, consistent with who you are as a brand, helpful and positive. After awhile, you’ll see what works and doesn’t work.

The only 6 Facebook Page statistics you need to worry about

The only 6 Facebook Page statistics you need to worry about.

Just yesterday, I was creating Facebook ads for myself and for a client, and I was somewhat frustrated and confused by the process. I did not study advertising. I’m by no means an expert on it, but due to Facebook’s December changes to their algorithm, Facebook ads now appear to be a necessary evil. So, here I am relying on it to further my reach.

I stumbled upon this great article on measuring your Facebook Page statistics and wanted to post it for all of you. Your business most likely has a Facebook Business Page by now, I hope. It is safe to assume that not every small business owner is an advertising genius, so I hope that this article helps you.

It has certainly helped me as I provide monthly assessments to each of my clients. Now, I’ll be able to confidently explain their statistics and see the pros and cons of our campaigns.

Good luck!

How to Use Social Media to Find Customers Infographic | Entrepreneur.com

Below is the absolute best infographic I have found thus far.

Obviously through social media, one of most of my client’s main goal is to capitalize on leads to ultimately close on a sale. Whatever business you may be in, your livelihood depends on generating a profit.

I preach branding, awareness and relationship building because it applies to the little guys as well as the big guys. They are three universal principles. Generating leads is yet another universal business matter. This infographic does an amazing job of breaking it all down for you. Social media allows you to actively search for potential clients, for those people who need your business service or product.

We all know the people who vocalize their needs online. You may be one of them. Who knows a good roofer in Savannah? I need someone to fix… whatever. What am I going to wear on St. Patrick’s day?

There are people everyday asking for advice and help online. You just have to take the time to find them. Once you do, please don’t be a mall-kiosk salesman… This is where the establishing relationships is so important. Actually help them. Put your business in the back of your mind and their needs in the forefront. The rest will follow. You may not always close on the sale, but you have put your brand in someone’s mind for future reference. Kindness goes a long way. It’s easily remembered.

Now read through the infographic and apply it to your business! 

How to Use Social Media to Find Customers Infographic | Entrepreneur.com.How to Use Social Media to Find Customers (Infographic)