15 Aug The Inbound Marketing Model
Inbound marketing is a big buzzword in today’s digital, industrial, and B2B marketing space. But a lot of professionals mistakenly use it synonymously with “digital” marketing. As it turns out, that’s a bit of a misconception.
The inbound marketing model may have been brought about in part because of the digital age…but it can be implemented no matter the medium. Are you using it in your company?
1. WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING?
“Regardless of…digital or analog…inbound is trying to figure out a way to get people to find you.”
Some companies have embraced digital, some haven’t…but inbound is changing how people employ your business, regardless of the medium they use.
It’s no longer about customers being sought out by a company, but about them seeking a solution to their own problems.
A lot of companies may pooh-pooh the idea, because “We’re a very relationship-driven business.” But in reality, every business is relationship-driven.
Inbound isn’t here to replace those relationships at all: it’s here to enhance them.
Inbound takes the relationships you’ve developed, based on the way your company has gone to market in the past, and it’s just changing the medium of your message: the way it’s communicated and delivered.
2. HOW DID IT DEVELOP?
A lot of people blame the uprising of digital on younger generations entering the B2B world…but in reality, younger generations have constantly been entering the B2B world. It’s the tools and resources at their disposal that have changed.
Just naturally, it’s going to be a younger crowd. It likely always has been…but before the digital age, we just couldn’t figure out who those people were
Now that digital resources have shifted, so have buying habits.
“Nearly fifty percent of B2B buyers are millennials…the way that they buy is dramatically different than the way things used to be purchased twenty, thirty years ago.”
The question is…are you shifting with those buying habits? Just look at what happened when Netflix pivoted, but Blockbuster did not. Blockbuster’s net worth never reached $9 Billion…but Netflix has already exceeded $60 Billion – and just recently it was (briefly) worth more than Disney itself!
The majority of B2B buyers today make their first touch through your website, or some digital property. So the reality is, if you’re not well-positioned online, then you’re not well-positioned with around 90% of your potential buyers.
3. ADJUSTING TO EDUCATE BUYERS
Just think of whenever you buy something: whether it’s a B2B or a B2C purchase. What do you do? You go to your nearest phone book, right?
Of course you don’t.
By the time buyers reach out, they’ve probably already made their decision by educating themselves online.
Adapting to an inbound model means providing more educational content online about your product and service, which they can access before contacting you.
Webinars are a valuable tool for educational leads like that; and they’re a resource that large B2B industrial companies especially favor.
Video resources are a great way to explain fairly expensive, highly-technical products.
Best of all, the buyer also learns a little bit about your company and culture just through the nature of how the videos look – especially if your subject matter expert is the person hosting the webinar.
Beyond just having the videos, it’s also important to know your audience.
An engineer might be more interested in the specs on the product. Everybody else in that company is interested in the ROI. “Why are we spending money on this product? What are we getting out of it?” What a CEO wants will differ from a CFO’s desires, and neither may have the same priorities or interests as their engineer who will be using the product.
Best of all if you’re a billion-dollar company, you don’t have to reinvent your process.
Just take what you’ve already been doing successfully, and digitize it.
For a quick win, go out and interview the sales team and understand how they handle and rank leads, and totally copy the process.
4. WHERE DOES CONTENT FIT INTO THIS?
Once your inbound process set up digitally, it can run 24/7 and provide educational information to engineers working late nights and researching solutions.
Inbound is a digital method to allow people to raise their hand, instead of you seeking them out and asking if they want your product.
The more of a prospect’s questions you can answer with blog posts and webinars, the more satisfied they will be.
Now the word ‘content’ is sometimes intimidating… but it’s easier to create than you might think.
If you record just one presentation by your subject matter expert, you can get a blog post and a video and a podcast and still images right there. That’s a minimum of four resources from one shoot! And if you get an email from a customer about what meant a lot to them, that’s more content you can generate for your website. And that’s a key part of the inbound method.
Content is the source and medium and main tool of inbound marketing
People don’t want to just see the specs on products; they want the story behind it. They want to know what it’s going to do for them – which they’ve always wanted; they’re just asking for it digitally. And that’s what the content is.
Without the content, there’s nowhere to land after someone reaches your website.
And the right format is important, too. Reusing content is kind of nice for marketers who don’t have to generate something severely original every day or two…but also, you’ll reach more people because of how they ingest information.
“Everybody learns differently. There is that engineer that’s going to sit there and watch an hour-long webinar. Just so you know, that’s not me. If I go and sign up for a webinar, I get the replay, and I hope to God they have a Cliff-Notes version that I can read through in about four minutes.”
People have different ways they like to consume their content. That’s why, when you’re trying to decide between video podcasts, audio podcasts, blogs…the answer is “yes.”
5. ADVICE FOR NEWCOMERS INTO INBOUND
Regardless of digital, you need to understand your business and your customers first.
You need to know what you’re selling and why you’re selling it – and why you’re selling it isn’t to get revenue; it’s why the customer is buying it.
Once you do get to the digital side of things, remember to transition into it; don’t just jump in while dropping your traditionally-successful methods cold-turkey. Even if you’re just starting by consulting outsiders, hiring an agency, or asking your customers how it’s been for them, that works.
You need to know ahead of time what you want to get out of digital, so that you know how to measure it; and you also need to know how to represent the ROI to the higher-ups so that they actually can see value from it. But most of all?
You need to know how customers are finding you. Because your main source of leads is probably not the Yellow Pages anymore.