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> Solutions Are Power :: What Is Inbound Marketing & How Does It Affect My Small Business?
post Apr 12 2010, 08:42 AM
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When setting up a business, one of the things people may tend to overlook is the marketing aspect, particularly the tools that are out there to help them achieve a key objective: getting found. If people don’t know you exist, then how are you going to do any business? Sure, you could employ a public relations firm to help get the media interested in your business, whether it’s a physical location or a Internet startup, but most of the work can easily be accomplished for much less and simply by thinking about inbound marketing.

Wait…inbound marketing? What is that?

Wikipedia and Hubspot both define inbound marketing as “marketing focused on getting found by customers.” Basically this means that whether it’s through tools like search engine optimization, social media, etc. as opposed to anything outbound where you are paying to get people’s attention. David Meerman Scott says that it’s akin to “earning your way in” and I think that inbound marketing is a pretty good thing to work on. You’re going to entice people to spend more time with your business because of its merit, not how many dollars you spend flooding them with advertisements. Cut down on the noise.

(IMG:http://blog.networksolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/netsol_inboundvoutboundchart.jpg) So if your business has money, then why should you just minimize that payment to an agency and not run any paid search? Well because you’re hoping on a pray and spray tactic. Sure you can have some targeting based on demographics, location, etc. but once the user gets to your site or business, what are they going to see? Disappointment. Focus on your inbound marketing and create some value for why people are visiting and then you’ll be able to offer more relevant ads that will really be inviting to current and potential customers. As you can see in the chart on the left, here are the differences between outbound and Inbound (source: Hubspot). As you can see, when it comes to outbound, you’re breaking through a tremendous amount of noise to get your message across – whether that’s through print ads, television, cold calling, trade shows, etc. – these are all traditional marketing efforts and are just pushing money out there in the hopes of some salvation of a flood of new customers. Probably not the best way to do it these days.

However, with the invention of the Internet and more widespread adoption towards it being used as the voice of the “people”, companies are going to need to realize that inbound marketing is just as important as traditional marketing was in the early 90s. These days, you need to find reasons for customers to visit your business. Whether that’s through things like blogs, YouTube videos, search engine optimization, etc, you’re going to provide valuable content to your customers so that they’ll say “Wow, company XYZ has a really good blog talking about this and that. I think I should go back to their site and read more because they’ll really help me out.

The novelty of using Inbound Marketing? You’re changing the paradigm of marketing. No longer will customers feel that they’re automatically being sold something. You’re helping to bring in people who you would like to build relationships with – they understand that it’s a commercial site…we all know we’re about to be sold on something…so why not take a different spin and provide some suitable content that will invite customers to come back again and again…and again?

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