12 Feb Inbound Marketing May Solve 5 Common Marketing Problems
In Entrepreneur Magazine’s February 2013 edition, it identified the “Top 10 Marketing Challenges” (which it cited Hubspot as the source) that marketers face. Their list was much prettier, but the top 5 looked something like this:
- Lead Generation
- Social Media
- Converting Leads to Customers
These are all formidable opponents to marketers and have been for years. Especially for small businesses like insurance agencies and brokers, all of these problems not only affect branding and brand recognition (another one of the top 10 problems), but also the ability to drive sales.
There is a fairly cost effective answer to all of these that can be implemented, normally with the help of a strategic marketing firm that specializes in a sales-first marketing approach, meaning they focus on driving sales by implementing advanced marketing components to their clients with the only intention of developing leads, placing them in your sales funnel, and converting them to paying customers. That last paragraph was an example of what we call in the business – “a shameless plug”. 😉
Inbound marketing should be your first and best answer. Inbound marketing continues to gain steam for good reason. Think of Inbound Marketing as a separate study of marketing that would be synonymous with “permission marketing” (a term popularized by the great Seth Godin – still our favorite marketer). Traditional marketing, in contrast, is referred to as “interruption marketing”. Think commercials “interrupting” your favorite TV or radio show, a pop up ad, a telephone solicitor calling your home, a magazine ad, etc.
Traditional outbound (or interruption marketing) is quickly falling out of favor with consumers (although one could argue that it never was “in favor”) and with marketers due to it’s inherent inefficiency and disruptive, sometimes obnoxious nature. In fact, think of the myriad of technologies designed to counteract interruption marketing: pop up blockers, DVRs, satellite radio, SPAM filters, no-call lists for residences, etc.
Marketers and business owners have been stuck for many years with this type of advertising that nobody really likes (as a whole), has a large amount of waste because of the huge net it casts, It’s also difficult to target, but is difficult to measure and almost impossible to quickly change course if it begins to fail. If course is changed, a large amount of sunk costs exist. Finally, for business owners, a lot of small to mid sized competitors find it hard to compete with behemoth industry juggernauts whose ad budgets dwarf the size of their own.
Enter Inbound Marketing.
Going back to the original term “permission marketing”, essentially a business owner markets in a way that builds a conversation with the client. This is best achieved in your online strategy. Look at it like this, when you are searching for information on a product or service on the web, what’s your goal? To find info. You are not necessarily ready to buy, otherwise you would be on a different search possibly looking for pricing. Inbound marketing is about delivering information that the prospect wants prior to bombarding them with “buy now” messages before they have gathered the info that they need. Traditional outbound strategies would be trying to marry someone before you had a first date or sometimes an initial conversation. Slow down, Tiger!
Awareness – Interest – Decision – Action
These are the steps that prospects need to be walked through. If it were effective to jump to action, the very popular and very old AIDA buying process would just be the “A” buying process.
So, we deliver the info that they want in exchange for a small amount of information about what they’re looking for. Once the prospect has that information, we deliver another message to the now aware (of your brand) prospect to build interest in your offering. We then continue to develop this prospect in our sales funnel by delivering slightly more progressive messages until we ultimately help them make a decision and take action. Depending on your product buying cycle (and many times cost) this can be a quick lead nurturing program or a more lengthy one.
This online marketing strategy will generate leads. It will engage potential consumers. It will build sales. It takes some discipline. Depending on how you go about it, most of the tactics can be done with little money up front, although to get maximum impact in the shortest amount of time, you would be wise to shift marketing dollars from traditional advertising and marketing to the more effective and easier to track Inbound Market. Nevertheless, if you have the time and/or the internal staff to work the plan, you could set up your website to be an inbound marketing machine using the free e-book below.
What inbound marketing tools are used?
To tackle the 5 Biggest Marketing Challenges from above, we use inbound tools such as blogs and social media to build awareness and traffic. Additionally, e-mail marketing to current clients that opt-in (remember “permission” …not SPAM). Blogs are very easy to set up and allow you to deliver good content to a broad audience. There’s a method to the madness (see the e-book).
We use well placed forms along with landing pages and free information to generate leads. In inbound marketing we nurture those leads, many times, with e-mail marketing and special offers. We also use Social Media to continue to build not only traffic, but interest in the brand. You need to be careful with Social Media marketing and make sure you use it as it is intended. Otherwise you run into disgruntled fans, friends, or followers.
Converting leads to customers is the real magic. This requires significant effort upfront and a continuous refinement of tactics and a dedication to watching your analytics. Again, this is where you need to dedicate some time. First and foremost, understand your clients needs and develop a timeline around them. Once you have an understanding of why the prospect came to you and what they need to make a decision, automated workflows can be created with e-mail marketing, blog posts, and Social Media posts to help drive them through the funnel.
This was a longer post than normal So, we’ll cut it short. But if you are interested in tackling the problems that we all face, we invite you to download the e-book.
Be Iconic, friends!
VP Marketing, Iconic
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A hard working, scrappy entrepreneur with a passion for helping others succeed by mixing sales technique, creative design, and digital marketing into a potent cocktail of awesome sauce.