January 7th, 2015

Understanding Inbound Marketing

If you were given the option to either go out, find some customers and make a sale or to stay in and let the customers find you, which would you choose? I am fairly certain you and just about every other business person out there would go for the latter. How that can work, you may ask. Surely sales won't just come knocking on your door on its own. Well, this 'letting the customer find you' strategy is part of an emerging marketing trend called Inbound Marketing.

For decades, even centuries now, businesses have always resorted to the "buy, beg or borrow" method. They would buy advertisement space to promote their products or services, convince or rather beg people to try them out and they would borrow or hire the services of sales people to sell the products to just about anyone who would give them time of day. The consumers approached may not even be interested in the products to begin with. Salespersons have to work a lot harder to convince the consumers to try their products. And the consumer might just get too annoyed and buy the thing just to get the salesperson out of his face. This is a hard sell method. As the name implies, it is hard work.

That's not to say that inbound marketing is easy and sales will just appear out of nowhere. A substantial amount of work, research and planning still needs to be done to get the best of this new marketing strategy. Inbound marketing is all about making it easy for the customer to find you. The internet has become an integral tool for this marketing strategy. Businesses now focus and spend a considerable amount of their time, energy and money in creating a well established online presence. They do this by ensuring useful, relevant and up to date contents on their sites and by incorporating SEO enriched keywords so that they can be found easily and rank high up in search engine results. Then, it is up to the customer to find what they want or need.

In traditional marketing, businesses have to fork up a large budget for their advertising campaigns and promotions. Billboards, banners, ads in newspapers and magazines, television and radio, telemarketing calls and spam e-mail. The fact is that the more advertising you do, the better you hope the results will be. This form of marketing 'interrupts' the customer's time to gain their attention, popping up here and there, often at the least time they may want it to. Do you know that on average, we are subjected to approximately 2000 marketing prompts each day? No wonder people have resorted to using caller ID, spam filters and satellite TV just to get away from these daily interruptions.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is not interruption based. In comparison to traditional marketing, inbound marketing is directed right at the heart of the target market. Those who want the product or service will simply look for it themselves. Customers come looking for you by searching online, via your website or blog, recommended by someone on Facebook, Twitter, IM, e-mail and so on. They wouldn't be searching for you if they weren't interested. So the online marketers' focus now shifts from just hoping that someone sees their ad, to creating and maintaining a quality website and hub of contents that can be easily found online. Inbound marketing still very much carries the concept of word of mouth advertising. In fact, with the power of the internet and social networking sites today, your online content might just go viral. Online users like and share and tweet and forward information faster than you can say inbound marketing! This is truly the ultimate form of word of mouth advertising. Your contents can go viral in a matter of hours- a good reason to ensure that your web presence and contents stand out and are of the best quality that they can be.

This is not to say that businesses should abandon the time tested traditional marketing strategies in favor of inbound marketing alone. The two should go hand in hand to complement each other overall. With this said, businesses do need to gear themselves for this new emerging trend. They need to accept it, learn to embrace it and harness the power of inbound marketing as the marketing tool of the future.