If this was 1970 and you were looking to drive new sales of your product or service, you’d likely start by sitting down in your wood paneled conference room with the chain smoking marketing team. Your discussion would center on what billboards, magazine ads, newspaper ads, and radio spots to purchase to get your message the greatest possible exposure. Such was the “outbound” marketing methodology of yesterday. But nowadays, the smart approach to marketing literally turns this strategy inside out…
“Inbound” marketing is all the rage these days, and not just with millennials and other hip, youngster generations. With inbound marketing, the idea is to create an environment (primarily online) that is so rich with valuable content and resources that customers come to you. This is achieved through things like blog posts, webinars, videos, social media, and to tie it all together, a strong SEO strategy. You’re creating the content and the potential customers for whom it is most relevant are finding it and engaging with it. The end result: more conversions and a drastically better ROI on your marketing investment.
Not convinced? Here are some statistics that might persuade you:
- 80% of decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus in an advertisement1
- Inbound leads cost 60% less than outbound leads2
- SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads have a 1.7% close rate3
After all, when you need to find a plumber to repair your leaky faucet, where do you go? The Yellow Pages? That billboard you zoomed past on the way to work? Not likely. You’re probably jumping on your smartphone and typing “leaky faucet plumbers in XYZ town” into Google. By doing that, you’ll quickly have a list of plumbers along with blog posts about fixing leaky faucets, and maybe even a video demonstrating potential solutions.
So where to begin? Go back to Marketing 101 – who is your customer and what are their interests, problems, and desires? The easiest place to get these answers is…your customers (surprise!). Send them a survey. Call your best customers and ask them directly. You should be seeking to understand what makes them tick (and what ticks them off too). With that knowledge in hand, you can start optimizing your website and creating those blog posts, social media posts, and webinars that will draw the right customers into your world. If you’re doing these things well, the sale often becomes a foregone conclusion.
To be fair, there is still a time and place for traditional outbound tactics, such as when trying to create brand awareness. But dollar for dollar, inbound tactics are the best bet as the foundation of your marketing strategy. Make 2017 the year that you turn your marketing “inside out.”
(Source: Jordan Tippett, Consultant, UGA SBDC in Brunswick)