A difficult economic environment has forced many companies to take a long hard look at how they do business. The financial crisis of 2007-2009 saw the stock market hit numbers that were way below the highs of past years and governments scrambling to put together rescue packages for collapsing financial institutions. Many industries shed numerous jobs. As would normally happen during such events, the focus always starts to move towards ways of cutting costs while at the same time not compromising the company’s core business model.
One such area that often starts to suffer from budget cutbacks is marketing. After all, many argue that marketing might not form a core component of the business especially if they perceive that products have already picked up sales momentum in the market. Of course this would be a tragic mistake because even the strongest brands and products in any industry still need marketing in order to not only sustain but also grow sales. The better approach is to turn to more innovative and effective ways of marketing your products – this is where inbound marketing comes in.
But what is inbound marketing? In a nutshell, inbound marketing is geared towards making your customers look for and find you. In traditional marketing techniques, the focus has always been on the company looking for customers. The media used included print advertising, television and radio ads, telemarketing, trade shows and email marketing. But what happened? Advances in technology as well as the emergence of privacy legislation have had a profound impact on these modes of advertising.
For instance, telemarketing can be restricted when users request to be added to a ‘do not call’ list. Television advertising is no longer guaranteed to reach every person that tunes to a particular channel. There is increasingly the option to turn off advertisements as viewers demand more television content and ask for less advertising. Email spam is now not only blocked by spam filters, but can organization can get into trouble with the law for sending what would be classified as unsolicited email. Add to all this the mental numbness that consumers start to get into by being exposed to too much advertising. For instance with so many billboards, a billboard advertisement may not have as much impact or draw as much attention today as it did when billboards were first introduced.
Inbound marketing turns the entire concept of traditional marketing on its head. Rather than interrupt your TV viewing or radio listening with copious amounts of advertising, the video advertisements are developed and then placed (usually on the internet) somewhere where people can go and view them. Rather than placing advertisements in print publications, inbound marketers create their own blog that their customers will want to visit on their own volition and enjoy reading the content. Telemarketing is replaced with people wanting to call you to request more information on your products. In short the customers come to you and not vise versa.
There are 3 key components necessary for any Inbound Marketing campaign. How you execute these three components is what will determine how successful your Inbound Marketing strategy will be. It is what will shape the number and quality of leads that your website and business attracts.
The first key component is content. Content is indeed the cornerstone of any inbound marketing campaign as it is the quality of your content that will attract potential customers to your business or web site. You should make the content informative, unique and interesting if you are to achieve maximum marketing efficiency.
The second component of Inbound Marketing is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO will make it much easier for your potential customers to locate your content through search engines. It is a long known fact on internet users that on average, the majority of visitors to your website will have been redirected through a search engine. Employ the different techniques of SEO as would be appropriate for your business and product. Make use of the right keywords and develop quality back links.
Social media is the third component of Inbound marketing. Social media is what will give your content that punch it needs to have maximum impact. When distributed and discussed on the major social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, your content and thus products and business gains credibility and is a powerful way of drawing new customers to your site.
There are two main reasons why Inbound Marketing is more efficient than the traditional (or Outbound) Marketing techniques.
First of all, it is more cost effective. Outbound marketing will often be characterized by huge spend on buying advertising space on television, radio and print, as well as renting space at trade shows. Costs are significantly lower with Inbound marketing. A blog cost almost nothing since setting up an internet blog is free. You need only create content which is cheap even if you get someone else to do it. The largest social networking websites such as Twitter, MySpace and FaceBook are free to join and can draw thousands of potential customers to your site in a short time.
The second advantage is that Inbound Marketing targets customers more effectively. Traditional techniques such as mass snail mailing, e-mail and telemarketing campaigns are poor in niche targeting and often come across as haphazard and thus annoying to some of the people reached. Inbound marketing only handles people who demonstrate interest in your content and are therefore more likely to be interested in what it is you are selling.
Duncan Wierman is an Ex Software company CEO turned Real Estate Investor and Marketer. Discover how to use creative online marketing methods to generate more business. Duncan is also offering readers a complimentary copy of his lead generation software at http://www.onlineleadfinder.com
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