“I would like to spend thousands of dollars sending out mailings, putting up billboards and bus ads, and cold calling every name in the phone book with little or no effect on my overall sales.” – No Person Ever
If the only tool you have is a hammer, all your problems look like nails. Before the internet (easy there, gramps), the only marketing tools were ones that would now be classified as outbound marketing: cold calls, direct mail, print ads, TV or radio commercials, trade shows. In the past couple decades, email blasts got added to the list.
Outbound marketing addresses the problem of generating leads with the finesse of a hammer. It treats every potential prospect the same way. While this may sound egalitarian, it only means that everyone has equal access to the same marketing white noise.
Because of its lack of finesse, outbound marketing’s effectiveness has been steadily decreasing. The increase in the amount of outbound marketing messages has seen, along with it an increase in the ability to ignore these messages. TV ads can be fast-forwarded through. Terrestrial radio ads are being lost to podcasts. Mass mailings are going straight from the mailbox directly to the recycle bin. And spam blockers keep mass emails from most peoples’ inboxes.
So what can you do to reach prospective clients? Well, if outbound marketing is the problem, it stands to reason that the solution is: inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing strategies include:
- Blogging regularly
- Social media engagement
- Downloadable content
- Conversion paths that turn visitors into leads
- Emails containing useful content
- Rich keyword development
Inbound marketing allows you to attract and convert web visitors into customers by using personalized, relevant information and content. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert into satisfied customers.
By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.
But where is all of this content going to come from? That is a very good question, I’m glad you asked. All this content is going to come from you, ideally.
That may seem like a daunting prospect, but it’s something you’re already good at; it’s why you started your business in the first place. Your content is based on your customers’ needs and interests—which are also your interests. As a leader in the field (of accounting, topiary gardening, lawyering, lion taming, etc.), you have valuable, industry-specific knowledge. Share it, and the world will thank you for it. For more information on coming up with content, read our blog on the subject, here.
Once you’ve got a list of fascinating topics, here are four creative marketing tools that you can use to draw customers to your content—and replace your hammer:
1. Rather than making cold calls from that list that you bought from a broker seven years ago, you can write a blog post that is specifically tailored to your ideal customer. One that provides them with valuable content, showcases your expertise, and provides them much needed help.
2. Instead of throwing out one generic email blast to everyone on your contact list, create customized emails for different segments of your list that address their different needs, showing that you care about them with your specific attention.
3. Stop wasting your time and money with commercials and print ads that no one is paying attention to, and instead send your existing, and potential customers targeted emails offering them goods or services based on their known interests.
4. This year instead of participating in yet another trade show, with the travelling, booth rental, and fattening regional cuisine, create a virtual trade show by producing a webinar for people to view on your website.
The best thing about inbound marketing is that not only is it less filling, it also tastes great: it provides you with that rare combination of something that will cost you less to execute, and provide you with a better return on your investment than the outdated outbound methods listed above.
So go ahead write that blog, customize that email, create that webinar. Start nurturing relationships with your clients as individuals, instead of one faceless group. And they, in turn, will nurture you right back, with likes, shares, downloads, comments, referrals, and business.