This is a guest post from Farhan Niazi, an IT professional with expertise in the fields of Web and Database Development. Niazi is the founder of SMB Tech Guide and is currently serving Sarhad University of Science and Information Technology, Pakistan as the Deputy Director of Information Technology.
Most small businesses probably know what online marketing is, or have at least heard of it. Simply put, online marketing is based on a four-step plan:
- 1) Not just being the recipient of, but actually earning prospects’ attention
- 2) Making your business easy to find
- 3) Drawing customers to your blog or website
- 4) You do this (at least in part) by producing the kind of content your customers see as having real value.
There are all kinds of media and material that are considered to be a part of inbound marketing—blogs, podcasts, video, e-books and e-newsletters, white papers, search engine optimization, social media marketing (think Facebook or Twitter, amongst others). Inbound marketing is a subset of online marketing, and these are just some of the methods available to draw customers in.
This is in direct contrast to what is considered “outbound marketing”: cold calling, direct mail, radio and TV advertisements, sales fliers, spam email, telemarketing, and other traditional advertising methods.
What’s the difference? Well, take a look at the two types. In the second, the attempts at contacting a potential customer are all unsolicited—in other words, the potential customer didn’t ask to receive cold calls, paper mail, TV and radio ads, sales fliers, and so on. It’s the “broad net” approach. If you cast a net that’s big enough and throw it out far enough and long enough, you’re bound to catch something. Note that this is not “targeted” marketing…everyone gets a flier in the mailbox, anyone might get a phone call, anyone that has the radio or TV on at the time the ad runs may hear or see it.
But, inbound marketing is based on some degree of interaction with your potential client. It’s as if they picked up the phone to call; they subscribed to a podcast that features your content, they visited your website or blog to see what you and your business are all about, and how you might be able to benefit them.
Any salesperson will tell you that more than half of the sales battle is overcoming objections. With inbound marketing, your customers might have a few questions, but their curiosity in your products and services have already overcome most of their objections! Now all they might want to know is the difference between you and your competition, service- and price-wise, so they can make what they think is the best choice.
The term inbound marketing is basically the same as the concept of “permission marketing,” The term “inbound marketing” was originally coined in 2005 by HubSpot’s Brian Halligan. According to HubSpot, inbound marketing utilized by small businesses is especially effective for those that handle high dollar volumes, longer research cycles and more knowledge-based products. With these areas in particular, prospects are more likely to do their own research and get information, and then hire someone who demonstrates the kind of expertise that they expect in this area.
Inbound marketing will deliver better, more informed customers to you. Now, instead of explaining why they want your products or services, you can instead provide them with success stories of how well it works. And, who doesn’t want to hear a good success story?