You can drown them in paper. You can send them emails until their spam filters start smoking and implode. You can spend thousands covering every keyword variation for their search ads. You can design your ads with attention-getting fluorescent yellow strobe light effects. Our last post discussed the difference between paper and digital ads, and these methods do work. But there’s another approach, called inbound marketing, which skips the blitzkrieg tactics for a more subtle approach. It essentially involves letting them come to you.
Why it works
Inbound marketing works because the customer can’t ignore it like he can an ad on his screen. First of all, he’s the one accessing your content. You’ve already won a small battle there, because the customer has already decided it’s likely to be valuable. He engages mentally with it and (if you’re any good) learns something. At this point, you’ve already helped him out by giving him something (information) for free. And who doesn’t like getting stuff for free? Nobody.
Ways to do it
Inbound marketing includes any way you can get the customer to your page that is not a blatant ad — blogs, instructional videos, ebooks, and social media.
The best thing about these methods is that you can do them yourself. Unlike paid advertising, which requires you to know all kinds of intricate terminology (and have a PhD in statistics to decode the results), inbound marketing essentially involves you instructing the customer about what you already know — the area of your particular service or business.
Of course, just being knowledgeable about your field isn’t enough. You have to express your ideas clearly and be interesting (but don’t worry, we’ll cover strategies for this in an upcoming post).
You also can’t update the blog whenever you feel like it, which ends up being about once a month for 15 minutes, because you’re just SO busy. Research shows that successful users of inbound marketing spend at least 3-6 hours a week on it. If you can afford to do that, and are seeing results (sales might take awhile to pick up, but positive feedback from readers tends to be immediate), do it yourself. If you have other things to do, or are unsure how to get started, you might be better off hiring a company to do it for you — the cost will be lower than outbound marketing no matter what.
The Patience Factor
And remember, as the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. With inbound marketing, your popularity most likely won’t skyrocket overnight. People aren’t buying the products immediately, as they would with a paid ad campaign. It can take from 3 months to a year to see a significant boost in sales.
Instead, you’ll start to get a steady stream of interested readers, which you can slowly convert into consumers by earning their trust, providing valuable content, and establishing yourself as an expert in the field.
These increases also tend to be more stable than paid advertising, and come with other,long term benefits like brand establishment/recognition, extra traffic gained through word of mouth, and customers that keep coming back to your site because they’re addicted to your fascinating content (or addicted to pictures of your dog Milo – that’s right, we Facebook creeped).