Marketing has entirely changed in the past years. Something that has been normal for attracting new customers before 3 to 5 years now is gone. As an entrepreneur, you must find different ways how to attract potential customers and what is more important how to attract targeted potential customers for your business. Companies that will don’t change the way how they market their business will spend money on an unproductive campaign and will lose their business potential energy. The type of marketing that you need today is inbound marketing as something opposite from outbound marketing.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
First I want to start with something about outbound and then to compare it with the inbound marketing.
In outbound marketing, businesses and entrepreneurs put their focus on finding customers. They use techniques that poorly target potential customers. This approach looks like interrupting people. They use direct mailing, cold-calling, print advertising, radio advertising, newspapers, TV advertising, junk mail, spam, trade shows…
This is an approach that Seth Godin famously coined as interruption marketing because these tactics will work only if they interrupt the potential customers to get their attention.
These strategies are based on the assumption that if we start bombarding potential customers with our messages, they will spend several seconds to get our message and in such a way we will attract their attention for our business.
Interrupting Customers – Contra effect for your business
But, now this interruption can make contra effect of your campaigns. I don’t want to be interrupted when I watch an entertaining movie on the TV. I don’t want to be interrupted when I open my postal box and find several letters that I don’t want to read. I don’t want to get e-mails from businesses that I don’t know, and that I don’t ask for them.
All of this interruption can make me very angry, and that is a contra effect to the people who advertise in that way.
On the other hand, there is technology that can save me from all of these unwanted advertising campaigns and that will make these techniques less efficient and more expensive for entrepreneurs. TiVo will make TV advertising less effective, and Caller ID will block cold calls, spam filters block mass emails, new tools like RSS are making newspapers and magazines less efficient.
This type of marketing is opposite of everything that we say about outbound marketing.
- In outbound marketing businesses and entrepreneurs are focused on finding customers. In inbound marketing business and entrepreneurs are focused on things that will help potential customers easily to find them.
- In outbound marketing businesses and entrepreneurs use techniques that have poorly targeted potential customers. Inbound marketing on the other side use techniques that have highly targeted potential customers.
- In outbound approaches, you interrupt people to get their attention to your business while with inbound marketing the potential customer’s search about you because they want to find you.
As we can see it is all about methods that can make prospects easily to find your business when they are looking forward to a solution that your product or service offer. It’s about having qualified prospects come to you. Today potential customers have full control of how their media flow, and it also includes marketing media. They choose the time and place when and where to consume those marketing media.
Because of that inbound marketing is something that is more and more required for small businesses.
How to implement inbound marketing strategy?
But, how to implement it? First, you must be present everywhere where your potential customers are.
Here are some questions that you as an entrepreneur must answer before you start with the inbound marketing:
- Where are potential clients who seek products and services as goods and services that offer my business?
- Can you be there if they are seeking something that you offer?
- How to be the first in their eyes when they are seeking something that you offer?
Let’s think something about it with the traditional media as flyers. You can put your flyers in all postal boxes in some region that you think that there are potential customers. This is an outbound technique. All people in that area receive the same flyer, and most of them immediately go in the garbage. But, if your business offer financial consultancy services and you know that local banks are an ideal place where your potential clients are, you can make an agreement with them to place your flyers there. In such a case, if some client wanted to read them, they will take the flyer. It’s inbound marketing strategy.
The internet can make these activities much easier. We know that more and more people when have problems go to Google or different social media to find answers about their problems. And that is a good place for entrepreneurs to utilize the inbound marketing techniques for their businesses. In this way, the focus is on creating powerful content on web pages or social media channels that will bring potential customers to your business, brand, products or services.
If your potential and current customers are on Facebook, you must also be there. If they are on Twitter you must be there. If they are on LinkedIn, you must be there. If they search something related to your business on Google you must be in the first several places on the results page.
Why Inbound Marketing?
The things about marketing and reaching targeted customers in recent several years are drastically changed. Only a few years ago most potential customers find solutions for their problems by watching TV commercials, reading newspaper ads, reading magazines, receiving direct mail, listening radio or asking for business from sales persons.
However, now the same potential customers have much more options to search and find the solutions for their problems.
They build their network on different social media where they can ask questions about something. They go to Google and search for something that will solve their problems. And what is most important now they don’t want to be interrupted when watching a TV, or listening to the radio or when reading a newspaper. Because of that interruption, the marketing efforts in this way can produce contra effect.
The results from inbound marketing can be great, but they need time to be achieved. Maybe because of that many entrepreneurs don’t want to spend more time to build and maintain the whole process. And that is another factor to motivate you to start as soon as possible.
Good starting point is the book Inbound Marketing, Revised and Updated: Attract, Engage, and Delight Customers Online by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. You can also read my review of their previous book related to inbound marketing here.