Inbound Marketing

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How Inbound Marketing and Content can Draw Prospects to Your Business

How Inbound Marketing and Content can Draw Prospects to Your Business

Hubspot surveyed 3339 marketing professionals in 128 countries about the current state of inbound marketing.

Why is this Important to You?

It is important to you as a small business owner because it gives you insight into what is working and where marketing trends are heading.

With the increasing use of the internet and businesses competing in the global marketplace, many businesses are replacing traditional marketing with inbound marketing. The common consensus is that to reach the global marketplace focus on using inbound marketing tactics and to pull prospects with content that is relevant to them.

The benefits of Inbound Marketing are:

  • Inbound marketing costs are 61% lower per lead
  • 41% of marketers say inbound marketing produced measurable ROI in 2013
  • 43% of marketers generated a customer via their blog
  • 82% of marketers who blog daily acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who blog monthly — which, by itself, is still an impressive result
  • 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing this year
  • Just 20% of companies without a blog reported ROI from inbound marketing in 2013

How can Inbound and Content Marketing Help your Business?

  • Reach a targeted audience receptive to your message
  • Improve the ranking if your website or blog
  • Improve conversion rates of online sales
  • Establish you and your company as experts in your industry
  • Attract better qualified prospects to your website or blog
  • Repeat visitation to your website or blog from prospects and clients
  • Keep in touch with current clients and promoting referrals
  • Help to establish likeability, trust and credibility

What are the Different Types of Content Available for use by Your Business?

Blogs – Educate, entertain and inform readers about your topics, encourage return visits to your blogs with frequent updating, engages readers to share comments and share the information with others.

Social Media – Twitter, Facebook, , LinkedIn and other social media sites help promote your business, showcase talents, engage prospects and help spread the word about your business.

Presentations - Presentations provides readers with information that is appealing, informative, short and straight to the point.

ENewsletters – Inform, educate and entertain readers on a consistent and timely basis, helps promote your business, are shared with others, increases reputation, recognition, trust and loyalty among readers, and increases sales.

White Papers – Showcases your industry knowledge, provides the opportunity to be a thought leader, informs and educates the readers and can be shared with others.

Articles – Educate, entertain and inform readers about your topics, showcase your knowledge and lead readers to action.

Case Studies – Educates readers on your businesses pass success and tell how your business will help them achieve the same success.

Video – Educate, entertain, informs watchers, helps increase your likeability, trust, recognition and reputation among watchers.

eBooks – Establishes you and your business as experts in your industry, increases reputation, recognition and draws traffic to your website or blog.

Podcasts – Educates listeners, helps increase your likeability, trust and reputation.

Online Courses – Educate participants, showcases your knowledge, increases reputation and sales.

Workbooks – Educates readers, helps readers solve problems, increases reputation, trust and loyalty from readers.

Seminars – Webinars and teleseminars help educate participants, showcase your knowledge, increase reputation and recognition.

Businesses use a combination of the above inbound and content marketing tactics to create a online marketing strategy. While this is list is not comprehensive it is a good starting point to begin thinking about using content marketing in your business and what tactics are available. Inbound and content marketing allows small businesses and solopreneurs to level the playing field when competing against larger businesses.

Your Turn

How are you currently using inbound marketing and content to draw prospects to your business?

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Using Content Marketing to Educate Prospects about Your Business

Using Content Marketing to Educate Prospects about Your Business

The internet has allowed businesses to do business all over the world. It has also given prospects the availability of thousands of choices when looking to make a purchase, even when purchasing services. There are businesses that solely provide services to clients that they have never meet face to face.

Whether you meet with clients or never meet clients face-to-face, educating them before they purchase is the key to success. Content marketing is the key. It gives you the ability to show prospects your expertise and the solutions that you provide to solve their needs.

How do you make it easier for prospects to become interested in doing business with you?

It is commonly known in the marketing community that people do business with people they know, like and trust. You goal is to get prospects to know, like and trust you before the meeting, whether in person or over the telephone.

The easiest way to accomplish this is by educating the prospect on your services. This is going beyond creating marketing pieces that explain the services that you offer. This is educating prospects on how the service you offer will help them solve their problems, problems that they may not even know that they have.

For example:

Let’s say that you own a wedding planning service. For the bride who is getting married for the first time, she may believe that planning her wedding will be easy. She may not know there are hundreds of tasks to complete before her wedding day in order for her to have the wedding she has dreamed of since she was a child.

Your job is to educate her about all the steps that go into planning a successful and happy wedding that will allow her to enjoy the wedding of her dreams. Through this educational process, you will help her to realize all the things that she hasn’t thought about when it comes to planning a wedding. As she continues to return to the information that you provide concerning planning the perfect wedding, she will come to trust the advice that you give. When she begins to think that she may be better off hiring someone to help her plan her wedding, she will turn to the person who is educating her when thinking about hiring a wedding planner. You are one-step ahead of other wedding planners, because without even meeting her, she has gained trust in your ability to plan the perfect wedding.

What is some of the content that you can provide to prospects?

There are tons of ways that you can provide content. Vary your approach so that you reach prospects in a format that they will enjoy. You can create:

  • A blog
  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Slideshare presentations
  • White papers
  • Ebooks
  • Special reports
  • Infographs
  • Comic books
  • Video games
  • Apps

Just to name a few.

How do you go about educating your prospects?

Let’s stick with the wedding planning example. So how do you go about educating your prospects and gaining their trust? You can put up a wedding planning website and add pictures of successful wedding you have planned.

You can add a blog and write wedding planning articles and tips. You can create a wedding planning workbook or worksheets. Add short videos of weddings you have planned, podcasts and webinars on wedding planning topics, success stories of how you helped people plan the perfect wedding, facebook fan page with all of the above and twitter updates. You can add a forum to your website where brides can talk to other brides, have questions answered by you and other readers, and create a monthly newsletter.

How do you reach prospects?

Make sure that you are participating in the social networks that your prospects participate. Join forums and groups. Share your content on your Facebook, Twitter, , LinkedIn and other accounts you have set up for your business. Ask them to share it with the people that they know. Create a contest to gain more attention and find ways to share you content with the media and bloggers so that they can help spread the word.

Utilizing these marketing techniques can be cost-effective for a small business owner, the largest investment being your time. Whether you are a service provider or sale products, educating your prospects is essential in today’s marketplace. Prospects are educating themselves about their needs and by providing the educational content that they need, when they need it, you place yourself ahead of your competitors.

Your Turn:

Are you educating your prospects about the services/products that you provide and how you can help them?

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A Simple Guide to Creating Your Marketing Plan for 2013

A Simple Guide to Creating Your Marketing Plan for 2013

The current economic downturn is causing stress among small businesses owners. Yet, this is not the time to cut back on marketing, but it is a time to get your marketing plan of attack into gear. You must first decide what your goals are, who your target market is, how you will reach your targets and set up a long-term plan to reach your target market.

What are your goals and who is your target?
Before you can begin a marketing campaign, you need to know what your goals are and who your ideal client is. How many ideal clients would you like to add to your client base?

We will follow Michelle Davis as she creates a marketing plan of attack for her financial planning firm. Michelle started her business two years ago and currently has 55 clients. She wants to add to add 25 new clients to her roster over the next twelve months, an average of two clients per month.

She has decided that her ideal client has a yearly income of $100,000 and $500,000 in investable assets. Beginning with a broad look at the type of client’s she wants to attract now, she need to add more details.

What other traits can she add to help decide who her ideal prospects are? Does she want prospects that she will have to spend a great deal of time educating on benefits of financial planning? Does she want clients who want full details of their financials on a quarterly basis, or someone who just wants to know if they are on target to meet their financial goals?

At this point, Michelle has decided that her ideal client is someone who has a household income of $100,000 per year. The client has investable assets of at least $500,000, married, planning for college education of two or three kids, and planning for the retirement of both partners.

They have an understanding of the need for financial planning, implementing the plan and desires to be informed but not educated. They also do not need a detailed report on their finances, but an overview of how their investments and whether or not they are on target to reach their goals.

Deciding where your market is and how to reach your market:
Michelle knows that the type of clients she is prospecting for live in affluent neighborhoods, children attend prestigious private schools and belong to certain country clubs and civic organizations. She quickly decides that cold calling will not reach this group of prospects. She sits down and thinks about the type of marketing activities that will reach her prospective clients, the type of marketing activities she likes to do and is most likely to complete.

Through careful thought and research, she have decided to use a combination of networking, referral partners, writing articles, writing reports, newsletters, postcards,blog, podcasts, slideshare presentations, radio interviews, videos, webinars, online groups, public relations and community involvement.

Now that she has decided on what kinds of marketing activities, she wants to pursue. She decides to do a breakdown of how often she will do each activity for the year, estimating that she is able to spend 10 hours a week on her marketing activities.

Michelle’s breakdown looks like this:

  • Networking events: Attend one per a week.
  • Cultivating Referral Partners: Host a breakfast or lunch meeting once a month.
  • Online Groups: Join 3-4 online groups that her target audience participates in and actively participate.
  • Writing Reports: Write an in-depth report once per month.
  • Newsletter: Create a monthly newsletter.
  • Postcards: Send out postcards every six weeks.
  • Podcasts: Create a short podcast once a week and post to blog.
  • Slideshare: Create a slideshare presentation four times a year.
  • Radio Interviews: Become guest on radio talk shows twice a month.
  • Video: Create one short video a month and add to blog
  • Webinars: Create four webinars per year.
  • Community Involvement: Become a sponsor in two large events per year.
  • Press Releases: Sending out press releases telling of news concerning her business or for a free offer.
  • Blog: Create a blog educating her clients and prospects on financial planning and keeping readers updated on financial news, adding posts at least twice a week

Creating her long-term plan to reach your market:

Michelle has figured out who her target market is, how she will try to reach her target market. Now that she has a plan on ways to reach her market, she has to decide on a schedule to implement the plan. Michelle starts by creating a spreadsheet with each month listed. Then she breaks the month down by weeks and starts placing events into each month, trying to place at least four events in each month.

For Example:

Weekly: Two blog posts per week and podcast

January

Week 1- Send newsletter to current email list
Week 2 – Go to a networking event.
Week 3 – Create Video
Week 4 – Send Press release offering a free booklet geared toward my ideal prospects and add booklet to website
Week 5 – Create SlideShare Presenation

February

Week 1 – Send newsletter to current email list
Week 2 – Host a lunch to cultivate referrals from current clients
Week 3 – Create Video
Week 4 -.Send out a postcard to prospects reminding prospects of the services she offers that are helpful to them and referring them to her website and blog

She lays out her marketing plan for the rest of the year, outlining her activities.

She knows that the plan should be flexible and is a guideline for her marketing activities, not set in stone. It will help her know what she should be doing at any given time, but she will not hesitate to change the plan when activities are not meeting her desired goals, but allowing the activities to have time to work and not change things too quickly. Give the plan time to work, making sure you have an idea of how the activities are really working before you change things.

Tracking results and hitting her goals:

Michelle revises her spreadsheet adding columns to keep track of her costs, what marketing activities are generating inquiries and clients gained per month, helping her to keep on target.

She knows it is important for to track her results. If she writes a press release and offers a free booklet, she tracks how many people call and request the booklet, and finds out how they found out about the booklet. She also tracks how many invites she sends out for her seminars, how many people sign-up and how many people actually attend.

Along with tracking her marketing activities, she tracks how many prospects that contacted her throughout the year that actually became clients. How long it took the prospect to move through her sales pipeline before they became a client. What was the deciding factor that made them decide to become a client? She tracks how many people visit her website. How many people download her reports, and sign up for her newsletter. Constantly tracking her results lets her know what activities are bringing her business and what activities are wasting her time. When it comes time to do next year’s marketing plan, she will know what activities to continue and discontinue.

Marketing Success

Marketing is a cycle. You must first understand what you marketing activities need to do for you. Are you trying to increase your prospect base, follow up with prospects, get a meeting, or close a sale? Gear your activities to what you are trying to do and focus on those things. When you increase your prospect base, move on to following up, getting the meeting, and closing the sale, then start all over. NEVER stop marketing, if you want to keep doing business.

Creating a marketing plan does not have to be a daunting task, it can easily be broken down into small bites of manageable projects that can be tracked and repeated. Just remember the old saying “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

Your Turn:

Have your created your marketing plan for 2013?

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How to Easily Define and Reach Your Target Market

target marketing

Before you begin marketing your business, you need to define whom your target market is and how to reach them.

 

There are many ways that you can about narrowing down your target market.

 

Before we begin looking at who your target market is, let us look at what you are selling.

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Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

There is a lot of talk about inbound and outbound marketing these days. Many businesses are moving their marketing practices towards Inbound Marketing and away from Outbound Marketing in order to reach, potential customers more cost effectively. However, what is the difference between inbound and Outbound Marketing?

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing (also called content marketing and pull marketing) is the process of bringing potential customers to your business by going where your potential customers and customers hang out, engaging in conversations with them and drawing them to your website, blog or brick and mortar store.

Inbound Marketing is about providing content that is interesting to people who want to learn about the subject you are addressing. It is about sharing your knowledge and message in a variety of forms to readers and engaging them in conversations.

Inbound Marketing tactics used by businesses to reach potential customers and current customers include blogs, articles, newsletters, twitter, facebook, webinars, podcasts, videos, social networking sites, and websites just to name a few. The key to Inbound Marketing is integrating a variety of methods to reach readers.

Pros of Inbound Marketing:
• Inexpensive
• Can be handled by one person
• Effective for all size businesses
• Levels the playing field
• Reaches targeted buyers
• Build credibility and loyalty
• You know that prospects are interested because they have engaged in conversations with you

Cons of Inbound Marketing:
• Time consuming
• Can be overwhelming
• Can be slow to produce results
• Learning curve can be long and confusing
• Can be difficult to measure results

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound Marketing (also called interruption marketing and push marketing) is the process of pushing potential customers toward your business by interrupting potential customers and customers with your message in places where they hang out. Outbound marketing is about telling listeners about your product or service and pushing them toward your website, blog or brick and mortar store.

Outbound Marketing is about telling the people who are listening what you think is important about your product or service. Outbound Marketing is about reaching the masses and telling talking to them, interrupting as many people as possible in order to find potential customers.

Outbound Marketing tactics used by businesses to reach potential customers and current customers include cold-calling, commercials, post-cards, direct mail, radio spots, trade shows, just to name a few. The key to Outbound Marketing is reaching as many people as possible to attract enough people to purchase your product or service.

Pros of Outbound Marketing:
• Reaches the masses
• Effectiveness can be measured
• Offers tried and true results
• Potential customers are familiar with Outbound Marketing methods

Cons of Outbound Marketing:
• Expensive
• Conversions rates are very low, usually 1-3%
• Harder to get prospects to listen to messages
• Prospects are turned off by interruption messages
• Prospects are less trustful of outbound messages
• Does not engage prospects

Should you choose one method over the other?

The answer to this question depends on the type of business you operate, your objectives and budget. A good marketing plan will encompass a combination of inbound and outbound marketing to reach prospects and current customers.

Your Turn:

What are your thoughts?

In what ways are you using Inbound and Outbound marketing effectively?

What I want you to do next:

Leave a comment on my Blog, like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, join my LinkedIn group Marketing and PR for the Financial Services Industry  and sign up for my NEWSLETTER

 

Jenn