“If you build it, he will come,” may be a classic movie quote (number 39 all time on The American Film Institute’s Top 100 Movie Quotes), but as a business maxim, it just doesn’t pass muster.
Let’s face it, there are no guarantees in business. As any entrepreneur, business owner, and executive knows, you could build the biggest and best “widget” ever or craft a website with the most amazing wow factor and still have nothing to show for it on your bottom line.
You must create awareness of your brand. You must make consumers, preferably those in your target audience, hungry for all that you offer, from the content of your blog and social media shares, to the actual product or service you sell.
Luckily, while there are still no guarantees, there are ways to improve our chances for success (these days more than ever) courtesy of our omnipresent connectivity via the Internet, social media, and the assorted smartphones, tablets, and other wearable devices we carry. It’s called Inbound Marketing and its promise is to help position your brand in the minds and hearts of consumers so that when you do “build it” they will come.
Inbound Marketing Anyone?
Inbound Marketing is the sum of all those marketing activities that make people seek out your place (or places) of business, whether you operate a bricks and mortar storefront, a website, a blog, social media pages, or all of the above.
Inbound Marketing is all about capturing the attention of consumers so that instead of relying on “outbound marketing” techniques such as placing ads, buying direct mail lists, and mining email lists for leads, your prospects and customers actually come to you. Imagine that!
Be forewarned. Inbound Marketing success takes patience and persistence. It’s not a “one and done” proposition where you post a blog or share something via social media and the sit back, waiting for the turnstiles to spin. Inbound Marketing requires an “in it for the long haul” mindset as you cultivate relationships with your audience first to interest them in your brand and then to convert them into enthusiastic fans, and ultimately paying customers.
You also need to be willing to test different approaches (because what works for others, might not work for you, and vice versa), measure results, analyze what those results mean, adjust your efforts as needed, redeploy . . . and then repeat the process. (Did I already say Inbound Marketing success is not a “one and done” type proposition?)
Create Content with Value
At the heart of Inbound Marketing is content—and not just any old content. Inbound Marketing success depends on your capacity to generate excellent content that consumers want and value, and then on your ability to do it over and over again on a routine and consistent basis.
Your content can take many forms, ranging from articles, blogs, and books/eBooks, to videos, podcasts, and even live events such as seminars, webinars, and classes—and you’ll likely want to choose more than one method so you can appeal to varying interests among your target audience.
Whatever mode you choose, your goals are the same:
- Deliver excellent, free, and easy-to-find content that your target audience can’t get elsewhere
- Grab the attention of prospects so they visit your website or business (or both) again and again, exposing them to your brand
- Endear them to your brand by making you the go-to source for content related to your product, service, or industry, and
- Convert them into paying customers and/or devoted followers who are willing to share their experiences and your content with others.
If you produce interesting content that consumers find valuable, they will come—and they will share it with their friends, helping to expose your brand to ever widening circles.
It All Adds Up
A few years ago, I wrote a blog about how our intentions are like tossing pebbles into a pond. Eventually, the ripples spread far and wide, even the little ones. The same can be said about properly executed Inbound Marketing strategies.
To start, you may feel as though you’re dropping tiny pebbles into a rather big ocean—and, taken piecemeal, what you do for SEO, social media, blogging, your website, and assorted other marketing activities may feel small and inconsequential—but eventually, those pebbles can add up to a big splash that reaches an audience broader than you ever thought possible.
- What are you doing with your brand to make people seek you out?
- What are you doing in the blogosphere, on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and others to connect with your target audience and stay connected?
Share your thoughts and your experiences here.