Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why you need to know about inbound marketing

Inbound marketing: it sounds like being on the receiving end of a particularly nasty piece of pressure selling. But while it’s definitely the sort of business jargon that you’d cross the street to avoid, inbound marketing is something you need to know about if you’re promoting a business.

Many of us think of marketing and advertising as being the same thing. That advert on the side of the bus, in the cinema or on the edge of your Facebook page is the product of an organisation’s marketing team.

But marketing teams should do more than just create adverts. They should be interested in every point of connection between the organisation and its customers. That’s because these are the places where the reputation of the business can be enhanced or tarnished. Good marketing is more subtle than simply promoting ‘buy us’ messages.

Inbound marketing is about attraction not offers

If you put your advert in front of enough people, some of them will take notice. That’s the been principle behind a lot of marketing over the years. Unfortunately, advertising this way can be expensive and the majority of people who see your advert won’t be interested in your product.

The people who do notice your advert are often already considering purchasing what you’re offering, or are open to being nudged in that direction.

Inbound marketing is about creating material aimed at people already interested in the products you sell. It could take the form of a blog post giving advice or news, a video that explains how to solve a problem or an infographic that sets out important facts in a visually interesting manner.

Having created these materials, the challenge for the inbound marketer is to find a way of getting them in front of the people who’d be interested in reading them.

An example of inbound marketing

Here’s how inbound marketing might work for a florist. Rather than pay for an advert in the local paper, they work with a graphic design agency to create an interesting and amusing infographic around the subject of men giving flowers as gifts.

Related: Power up your marketing with an infographic

They put the infographic on their website and share links to it through social media and their email newsletter. Because it’s informative and attractive, people share it with their contacts, who are more likely to take a look because it comes from someone they trust.

One infographic, like one advertisement, is unlikely to boost customer numbers. But sustained campaigns of inbound marketing activities are proving to be very effective for many businesses. It also sets you apart from your competitors who are still publishing adverts in the paper.

You might not like the term ‘inbound marketing’ but you should decide whether it’s an approach that could work for your business.

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