Most people who spend time on the web encounter a brand barking at them about their business. It’s funny how this archaic form of marketing, also known as outbound marketing, is still being used in the inbound marketing world. It’s as if these businesses didn’t get the memo that if they want to help their business not only survive, but grow, they need to adopt an inbound marketing strategy. The old school strategy simply does not fit in the new internet world.
Outbound marketers find it hard to adapt to the internet world. They are easy to spot in 2012, so keep an eye out form them. The brands who continue to use these old marketing methods are also coming across more and more road blocks by users who are finding new ways to block their message. This keys in on the fact that consumer behavior is incredibly different these days. Not only can I skip through commercials, I can ditch cable all together and use internet streaming subscriptions instead. I can tune out the company on Twitter who continues to fill my social stream with bullcrap messages about how badly I need to buy their new product. Sure… Not only are you on my block list, but it will most likely take a friend or two for me to reconsider purchasing your product over your competitor who is truly offering value to my information filled life. People are becoming pickier about who and how they ingest information. Do you really want to burn bridges by jumping the sale? Internet users are already blasted with messages from businesses everywhere they go on the internet. Do you really want to be just another business they tune out? Outbound marketing is typically more expensive, even when used through the internet with some restraint, and the leads generated from it rarely justify the dollars spent. The outbound marketing techniques have a hard time fitting into this world for small business, so let’s try something new.
Inbound marketers who are manning the ship for businesses today are refreshing. They might not always have the biggest Twitter following, or most retweets, but they are followed and listened to by devoted fans of their brand. This is far more valuable than shouting into space, wondering what the ROI of it all is and why your boss should continue to stroke those checks. It’s all about adding value to the user now. How are you going to entertain, edify, or reward your current and potential customers? It certainly does not involve tracking your hash-tag on Twitter and telling people about your specials this week. It does, however, involve engaging in a meaningful way with the folks who do mention you, love you, criticize you, or are simply just wondering about you. One of the most important goals of inbound marketing is to find valuable leads that are ready to buy. You are creating the top of your sales funnel with value for your potential customers while also pre-qualifying them as well.
Great inbound marketers are drawing customers to their site in various ways. My peers are drawn to SEOmoz for their free tools. Eventually, they suck you in through the funnel and you pay to use their valuable SEO tool set. This is much more valuable and cost efficient than cold calling digital marketers across the United States. By offering me value, SEOmoz has already warmed me up as a well qualified lead. Small businesses can leverage the power of the internet by using a blog and social media channels. A barber shop blog, for example, could become a hub for manly grooming tips and also boost the business’s SEO goals. The possibilities are endless, and for small businesses they can be relatively inexpensive as well. The value brought by the barber shop blog might help out a certain client with the most simple issue such as dandruff, but it could make a lifelong advocate of the shop.
Your website should become a hub which attracts visitors naturally. Small businesses today require an internet presence to accomplish this at the most basic level. In order to build a web presence, you will need a blog, a Facebook page, Twitter, and now, a Google + page. All of these things, combined with bringing honest value and engagement to your customer, will help your small business grow. Not only will you have a better chance of building a brand advocate, but you will most likely be rewarded in the search engine rankings as well.
Start bringing in the leads that will convert by reallocating your outbound marketing budget to your new inbound marketing plan.
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