The Magic of Inbound Marketing
Sales trainers will often tell stories of superstar salespeople who sit on the phone all day, calling random strangers and overcoming various objections to make sales. The reality is that cold-calling is dead. In my experience, any marketing effort that has you approaching cold customers and asking them to do business with you is a lot of effort for very little reward. Getting customers to come to you, better known as "inbound marketing," is another approach. Inbound marketing is all about becoming the information hub for your industry. Here are some efforts that can help you do just that:
Produce How-to-Purchase Guides
An in-depth guide to purchasing your product or service is a good inbound marketing effort because it directly targets the exact type of person you're looking for— someone who wants to purchase your product or service. This guide should not be a comparison chart between you and your competitors, where you come out on top in every measure. Instead, it should be a comprehensive and objective review of the decision-making process, and perhaps an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of different vendors in your industry. You can also develop how-to-purchase guides for related, but non-competitive, markets. When customers purchase your product or service, are they likely to purchase other products from related industries? If you can help them make a buying decision in those related industries, you will be top of mind the next time they're ready to make a purchase.
Use Infographics to "Sell" Your Service
Infographics help convey information and its retention by strategic use of imagery. Some people respond better to a visual story of your industry, and it's quicker to review this type of content than reading an entire article. In my experience, it's easier to get blogs to post your infographics than it is to get them to link to your articles. Start by researching some interesting facts related to your industry, and then hire a graphic designer to build an infographic for as little as US$200 on sites like oDesk.com. To get websites to post our infographics, I search for blogs that have posted similar content. I just go to Google's image search and drag and drop an existing graphic into the search engine; Google shows me all of the places where it was posted. I then reach out to the appropriate websites to see if they're interested in posting our infographics, which are equally valuable.
Provide a Free Product to Bloggers
An inbound marketing strategy we've used recently is to offer bloggers a free product in the hope that they will write reviews about it. It takes a lot of effort and follow-up to get them to actually write the article, but it's an effective method of promotion when it happens. To do this, we source for blogs with reasonable readership and traction. We can tell how much traction they have by seeing if there are comments and shares associated with their blog articles. If it's a good fit, we send the blogger a complimentary product, answer any questions they may have and watch as they support us on the marketing front. All in all, implementing inbound marketing efforts into your business can help you create a constant stream of incoming requests from prospective customers. By making sure the information you present is highly valuable and relevant to your target audience, your content will be shared within your industry, positioning your company as a leader in product or service excellence.