Knowing what type of marketing strategy to use for your business can be tricky, especially if, like most entrepreneurs, you’re not a marketing expert. Most business owners are fantastic when it comes to handling customer service and the finances but often fall flat when the subject of marketing and social media comes along. They don’t know the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, not to mention knowing which type of marketing strategy would be best for their business. It does present a learning curve - but one that can be overcome with information and insight.
Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing
Let’s start by describing the difference between the two marketing techniques.
- Outbound marketing: If you think of marketing and advertising, outbound techniques tend to be more traditional. It’s the process of advertising your product for sale and trying to push your product onto potential customers. Think of a car salesperson - someone who pays attention to you and gently - or not so gently! - tries to persuade you to purchase a specific vehicle.
- Inbound marketing: This is a completely different strategy. With inbound marketing you are focused more on connecting with potential customers and trying to nurture any leads. The focus is on helping the buyers you’re working with find the perfect solution for their needs once they’re ready to buy. It’s pull, rather than push.
Think about when you’re selling a house. When you sell a house there are two different types of markets: a buyer's’ market and a seller’s market. A buyer’s market is when the buyer is the one who is in control because there is an overabundance of housing or the buyer trying to purchase in an area that is not as desirable as others.
A seller’s market, on the other hand, puts the seller in the driver’s seat. There isn’t a huge number of housing opportunities in a certain area, or the property is in a highly sought-after neighborhood. Inbound marketing is much more like a buyer’s market. Yes, you, as the business owner do have a great deal of control, but the trick is making the customer think that they have the control.
The Four Types of People
When you start to talk about marketing strategy, you first need to realize that there are a few different types of categories to consider. These categories are:
Everyone is, of course, a stranger at first. It’s your job to turn them from strangers into visitors. This happens by using social media and high quality content to drive them to your website. Do something to catch their attention, get them on your site, and seize the opportunity to turn them from strangers into visitors.
So now you have a visitor to your site. How do you turn that individual into a lead? You have to offer them something that intrigues them. This can come in a variety of forms, from offering a product that they have never seen before to offering them some sort of deal that they feel fits their needs perfectly. This goes right into making the customer feel special and helps to turn the visitor into a lead.
Once you have the lead, you must nurture it. This is where social media marketing comes into play. Connecting with potential customers through social media is a fantastic way to help convert leads into sales. Always answer questions as soon as you can and make sure that you keep your content relevant and fresh.
Once you have moved a lead through the sales funnel, the question is: how do you turn buyers into promoters? By continuing to build the relationship. By using social media and inbound marketing techniques, you can easily push those sales to start promoting your business. Having contests that encourage people to share certain posts to better their chances to win and having content that goes viral are great ways to transform sales into promoters, which is how your business can grow rapidly.
For inbound marketing to truly help your business grow, get personal. If you have a client who is extremely satisfied with your product or services, for example, ask if you can put their comments or photos up on Facebook or Twitter. Have a Q&A session on your social media site and answer all of the questions as transparently as possible. If you have something going on in your personal life, such as getting a new puppy or renovating part of your house, put photos of those up and tell the story.
Customers like to feel connected to business owners. It makes them much more likely to purchase products or services and also makes them more likely to recommend your company to their friends. Do not overshare by posting divisive content (as they say, don’t discuss politics and religion!) - but do not undershare by remaining faceless.
And that is the key to inbound marketing. Treat inbound marketing like the old “word of mouth” techniques from many years ago. You will find this is the key to accelerating growth - and to ensuring it is sustainable.
Word of mouth marketing worked well years ago because areas were so small that advertising didn’t matter. The opposite is true now: the world is a huge place. But people still prefer good references over advertising or sponsored posts. That’s why inbound marketing works - because you’re able to take the huge world and make it smaller again, getting customers to refer your business to their friends. The result: you grow your business with not only good clients, but loyal ones.