Inbound marketing is the new black… is what I’d be saying to you if it was 2013. Today, you already know how important it is to create valuable content that your target audience finds interesting. You already know that inbound marketing is the most effective way establish credibility and create a sustainable funnel of new business. You already know that in the new world order of marketing you have to give first, then receive. Lastly, you already know that creating real relationships and engagement through content marketing, PR and social media is your most promising strategy for long-lasting growth and commercial success.
Here’s the good news. Your largest competitor hasn’t figured this out yet.
They’re still out there spending millions of dollars to buy new clients through traditional advertising methods and aggressive cold calling sales tactics. They’re slow to adapt and they’re about to be taken out by a new generation of younger, smarter, more agile companies.
However, just because you’re privy to the new rules of marketing doesn’t mean you can’t use a refresher every once in a while. Here are some simple ways to build your brand, capture new leads and convert new customers through inbound marketing.
(Oh, by the way – don’t fire your sales team. That was just a spicy headline to get your attention. You’re going to need them later – keep reading).
Fire Your Sales Team. Hire More Marketers.
Oh, right that pesky hyperbole again. Ok, don’t actually fire your sales team, just realign their objectives. Traditionally, sales’ role in the company is to close new leads. And traditionally, managers look at this as a numbers game: the more leads we give the sales team, the more sales they’ll close, right? Wrong!
In 2015, it’s much more important to create a marketing strategy that delivers highly qualified, warm leads that have a much better closing ratio than it is to waste your sales team’s time chasing down old, cold, dead shitty leads. Don’t believe me? Go ask your sales team which types of leads they prefer. I’ll wait.
Instead, go build a rockstar marketing team capable of generating targeted leads from your most valuable markets. Hire the men and women capable of creating engagement, building a fan base and using powerful marketing technology to build your brand and position your company as experts in your field.
Then, direct your marketing team to identify and then attack specific niche markets, the ones that are the most likely to find your product or service valuable and pay top dollar for access. Have them create tailor made campaigns and content directed right at these tightly defined market segments. This is called called “product/market fit”.
Lastly, train your sales team not to sell, but to consult. The leads that your new marketing team creates are already qualified, meaning they’ve shown interest, they’re authorized to make a decision and they plan on buying in the next 12 months. At this point, sales only needs to help them identify their specific needs and walk them through the onboarding process. Easy peasy.
Utilize Your Entire Toolbox
The main objective of your inbound marketing strategy is to create and deliver value to your target audience, however, the channels in which you can execute this strategy is almost limitless. Here are few inbound marketing channels to get you started:
Blog – the backbone of your inbound marketing strategy and your foundation for content marketing excellence. You should be publishing quality and engaging content on your blog as much as possible, or 2-5 times per week. We know this is a big task, so make sure your entire team is accountable for chipping in. Not only is your blog a proven method for SEO success, but if you’re creating amazing content that people will share, you want them coming back to your website to consume it.
Social Media – for most B2B companies, you need to be present on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – depending on your industry and target audience Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+ may be relevant as well. The key on social media is engagement. Don’t sell. Don’t overly self-promote. Aim to understand what your target audience finds interesting and reacts to. This takes time and you’ll have to learn which platforms work best for each segment of your audience.
Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle – Did you just spend 2 weeks developing an amazing e-book for a landing page aimed at CEOs in your target segment? Don’t stop there. That same ebook can be broken down into 4 or more blog articles. Then, it can be narrated into an animated video. After that, it can be the inspiration and research for a half dozen infographics or Slideshare presentations. Repurpose your best content until your blue in the face and suck every penny out of your content marketing ROI.
Guest Blogging and Q&A sites – Have you ever noticed how often Quora and Yahoo Answers show up in your search results? Google ranks these crowdsourced Q&A sites extremely high and you can put your brand front and center by answering the questions most likely being asked by professionals in your target markets. So the next time a CEO searches “what’s the best CRM for my outside sales team?” and clicks on Quora, he’s reading an answer provided by your company. Viola! You’re a certified thought leader.
LinkedIn – I know we already included LinkedIn under social media above, but for the B2B world, LinkedIn deserves its own write-up. Simply put, you should be dominating your industry on LinkedIn. There are over 300 million professionals on LinkedIn and when they’re logged in, they’re not looking for cat videos (most of the time), they’re looking for answers. It’s your job to provide them. Start by identifying the LinkedIn Groups most relevant to your target markets and become a key contributor. Add your own topics and polls, answer other people’s questions and follow up with people who are engaging with you. As you get comfortable, start your own LinkedIn Group – a space for specialists looking for the most powerful, cutting edge strategies to help them grow their business.
This list could go on forever with channels like Medium, Slideshare, Reddit, YouTube and so on. However, start with the basics and let your audience guide you into the newest channels and tactics where they want to be reached. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn just by interacting with your prospects through valuable content creation. You just need to get the ball rolling.