The web has forever changed people’s buying habits. Instead of needing to rely on sales people to send them information, buyers now have Google and other search engines to research products, find competitors, and see how other people rate those products in blogs and reviews. Furthermore they are greatly influenced by individuals that have emerged as experts in particular subject areas who use social media to get their messages across.
This sea change in buying behavior requires vendors to re-think how they go to market, and optimize to make sure that they will get found by buyers using search engines, blogs, reviews, and social media. The term Inbound Marketing was invented by the crew at Markethive (When they were Veretekk), when they developed the techniques and technologies that are needed to get found by buyers, and to make sure that the reviews and blogs around your industry segment cover what you are doing. (Markethive provides great software tools, plus education to help you automate Inbound Marketing. The founder, Thomas Prendergast has written many great books on these topics (dating back as far as 20 years ago) “Automated Marketing”, Customer Centricity”, Building a Better Website”, “The Power of the Social Network in Search Engines”, Conference Room Advantage”.
As further evidence of this change in buying behavior, I was recently talking to the CIO of a large pharmaceutical company, and he told me how he hates spam emails from vendors, and how he had developed a canned email response to them. I asked him to forward me a copy of that email, and have excerpted a couple of paragraphs from it that quite clearly describe the carnage:
“Please understand that I get dozens of these types of messages a week. I simply do not have time to read them, dig into them, follow-up on them, or reply to them. The most effective solution to this problem is for me to ignore the messages, which is what I usually do. …
… Finally, a small comment. As a customer, I find this type of approach to sales to be largely annoying to me and unproductive for you. We learn far more about what we want to purchase by searching the web, looking for customer references in blogs and forums, word of mouth, and by finding white papers on your site that concretely describe solutions to problems we are having.”
Remarkable Content is King
A key part of getting found is making sure you show up on the first page of a Google search. The lazy marketer’s approach to doing this is to purchase Google Adwords, and pay by the click (referred to as SEM, Search Engine Marketing). However 85% of people ignore the paid ads, so to be really effective, you will need to perfect your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) skills.
SEO requires you to develop great content that your buyers will find sufficiently interesting, different or insightful, that they will want to remark on it. (The authors of Inbound Marketing refer to that as remarkable content.) When your readers remark on your content on-line, using tools like Twitter, Facebook etc., they spread the word virally to other readers and broaden your reach. These comments lead to links back to your site, which lead to ever increasing page ranking in the search engines.
To be successful at this, you will need to keep the content fresh.
Traditional web sites don’t work in this regard, as they don’t change frequently enough.
What is needed is a blog that you update regularly.
Your blog cannot simply be a sales pitch for your product, but needs to be about topics that your buyers care to read about. The tone could be educational; or humorous or controversial. But above all it needs to be highly engaging and relevant to them – i.e. remarkable.
When you post a new blog entry, you will see your site traffic surge for a few days, and then die back to a level slightly higher than before. The more you post, the faster your traffic will build. But in the end, it is the really great articles that you post that will have the most impact.
And a meritorious blog system like Markethive (actually only Markethive) produces all of the above in a simple atmosphere of massive content curation that is immediately rewarded or rejected, building amazing content is King results, or something like that.
Once you have interesting content, you can use social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. to get the word out. Thus Marketing simplifies this to a level of totally simple results, but then, like EST (You remember EST Erhard Seminar Training), you need to gain experience. No lofty, descriptive words can truly do it justice. Your goal is to get other bloggers to link to you, and to have people tweet about your content.
An interesting thing about a marketing department that focuses on Inbound Marketing: it will place a high value on people that know how to write and develop content that draws in an audience. A silver lining to the damage that the internet has inflicted on the publishing industry is that there are plenty of very talented journalists seeking employment, and they possess the perfect skills for this job! So as an adjunct to developing your skills and expertise in creating and publishing great content, a very helpful tactic would be to get in contact with some of these talents and put them to work for you. Simple but effective.