Don’t Chase Leads; Let Them Come To You. Out-bound vs. In-bound Marketing
If you feel like your head is spinning right now, it’s most likely because you’re a small or medium-sized business owner trying to figure out what happened to the marketing landscape over the last ten years.
Things used to be, well not easy exactly, but more clear. If you wanted to get the word out on your business, the choices were pretty clear cut. You could create a snazzy postcard, pay for an ad in the Yellow Pages, maybe even create a local radio or television ad. All of these marketing tactics are considered “out-bound” as in, you’re broadcasting your message out to consumers whether they want to hear it or not.
In most cases, the answer is “not”. Think about it, how many commercials on television really appeal to you? How many billboards have you learned to ignore on the way to the grocery store or to your office? How many times do you switch to another radio station as soon as they cut to ads?
Exactly. Outbound marketing is easy to ignore, to throw away or to switch off.
Which brings us to today. If I had to sum up the current marketing field in a single word, it would be “fractured”. The Internet has imploded the options for a consumer’s attention, opening up endless marketing channels, each with its own niche audience.
How is a business owner supposed to find and appeal to potential clients when they’re roaming anywhere and everywhere and highly conditioned to have the attention span of peanuts?
The answer is to put down your spears and nets (out-bound marketing) and to lay out a trail of breadcrumbs instead (in-bound marketing).
In-bound marketing leads potential clients to you through the use of quality content that educates, entertains and starts building a relationship. Each breadcrumb in your in-bound marketing strategy is a piece of content that a potential customer will enjoy nibbling on. A breadcrumb can be almost anything – an informative blog post, a funny video on your website, a whitepaper that elucidates a complicated issue related to your business, a post on your Facebook page, or a guest article you write in a consumer publication.
Each time you lay out a breadcrumb that is useful, entertaining or educational, your potential lead comes a little closer and a little closer. See how it works? You’re not running around with a huge net, trying to pull everyone in, you’re attracting self-qualifying leads with the quality of your content.
Each great crumb you leave out strengthens the bond the lead has with your company. If you give them something they can truly use, they’ll appreciate it and remember you. This may translate into a call two months down the line or even multiple referrals.
When starting on your breadcrumb trail, there are two thoughts that you should keep nailed to the very front of your brain:
- Good content
The more content you produce, the bigger your breadcrumb trail One blog post will probably do exactly nothing to bring in leads. One hundred blog posts is a different story. If each blog post only brings in one lead each month, that’s 100 leads per month, every month!
It’s also important to utilize different forms of content. A lot of people don’t read blogs. Most that do have a handful of favorites that they stick with. Consider creating a whitepaper or ebook on a topic you get a lot of questions on, especially if there is little good information online.
Note: a whitepaper or ebook is a big undertaking. If you decide to go this route – do it right. Plan, outline, develop amazing content that will blow your reader away (more on that in a moment), and copyedit (or pay me to copyedit).
Videos, social networking accounts, games and more can all make great breadcrumbs. Just make sure it attracts the types of people who would likely convert into clients.
It should go without saying that whenever you create content for your business it should be quality. There’s no easier way to send leads scurrying than to throw out stale breadcrumbs with bits of lint and dirt all over them.
An in-bound marketing campaign is not a race. It’s a long-term strategy that will grow over time. You don’t need 100 blog posts tomorrow. Start with one really good blog post today. Write it. Edit it. Edit it again. Post. Repeat.
I cannot emphasize this enough. Quality comes before anything else. In-bound marketing is meant to attract leads. The best way to do that is to create content they will appreciate. Many business owners go the educational route, creating informative pieces to help potential leads who are in the information-gathering and decision stages of purchase. For instance, remodeling contractor bids often vary greatly from one another, and it can be exceedingly difficult for homeowners to figure out how to compare them.
One of my clients happens to be a remodeling contractor, so we wrote a post for his blog explaining to homeowners how they can effectively compare varied remodeling bids. The post provided helpful and informative information to my client’s primary audience on an issue they may be currently struggling with. How much do you bet that homeowners who read his post will remember and appreciate my client for this information? Might they decide to ask him for a bid as well?
Think about the concepts of out-bound vs. in-bound marketing. What do you feel is more appealing? A billboard for the local casino that you have no plans on visiting or your favorite blog that’s always filled with great information written in a clear and compelling manner?
Look at your own marketing strategies and determine if it’s time to start spreading breadcrumbs.