November 7/14, 2016: Volume 31, Number 11
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Inbound marketing is the process by which businesses connect and convert consumers to customers.
At the base of this process is content. Inbound marketing is relatively new but the difference between it and outbound marketing is very clear. Outbound or interruption marketing is what most businesses practiced in the old days. The idea is to stay in front of your customers at all costs, whether they like it or not. This includes the use of newspapers, TV, radio, billboards, etc.
Contrast this with inbound or pull marketing, which engages the customer. This is also called permission-based marketing, where the customer downloads a white paper or something else of interest or subscribes to a blog. The primary tool for inbound marketing is content. You’ve heard “content is king” and you’re probably tired of hearing that you have to blog. Sorry but blogging is powerful.
Inbound marketing takes the customer through four stages: attract me (something for me to see and enjoy), convert me (give me something I can download), close me (since you know what interests me) and then stay in touch with me. This, of course, is the simple definition, but at the heart of the process is the ability to build a relationship and continue to communicate with your customer. In addition the last phase is best accomplished by an automated marketing system that will continue to deliver timely and specifically designed messages. This brings us back to the value of content—unique content for each type of customer.
Who in your business should be blogging? It can be accomplished by anyone who is talented and likes to write. There is plenty of talk about having your salespeople write your blogs—why not? Who knows your business better than them and who has more information? Additional content can be used to create downloadable white papers on information needed by the customer. This might be an article on, “How to choose the right flooring store.” Why should someone else write these articles? The new salesperson has to be part of the marketing team, whether it’s engaging online or writing timely articles for your special customers.
Salespeople are a significant part of the engaging process and will get their share of referrals and repeat business if they put effort into building those relationships.
Content can pay off. It should be done on a schedule, weekly if possible and should be planned out weeks in advance. Everyone should invite people to sign up for the blog and explain they will be writing about the store and other fun things. Customers can also be asked to be guest bloggers. Ask them to share the post and your reach will expand.
The blog responsibilities can be shared: those with great ideas and those who can write. The writing must be consistent. Blogging content builds community and friends; isn’t that what sales is all about? Up until now, we have been focused on the short-term payoff (the sale) and haphazardly committed to the long-term payoff (referrals and repeat business). No matter what your theory these are the two cornerstones of your business. Why allow your competitors to steal those relationships.
One surefire way for Google to find your business is through timely content. If this doesn’t work, you can always hire out the writing. If you need ideas for your blog, give me a call.