There’s an old Taoist saying – “The journey is the reward”, more often presented these days as “It’s better to travel than to arrive”. Take a moment to think about that.
It’s often the thrill of the chase, or the experience and learning achieved along the way that really gets our juices flowing. And why should this be any different in business?
News Flash: It isn’t.
But too often we’re bound up with the need to hit a deadline, target or goal. Goals are great, but there’s a part of us that cares deeply about the journey to get there. Do you make the most of this in your marketing? Inbound marketing offers a superb opportunity to do exactly that.
What is inbound marketing?
It’s easier to say what it isn’t. It isn’t Outbound, or what’s now sometimes referred to as ‘disruptive’ marketing. Clear as mud?
Ok, it’s essentially all the marketing that attracts potential customers, nurtures them and then converts them into customers. So it spans SEO, paid search, online advertising, social media, email, marketing automation and much more besides.
The key thing about inbound marketing is it’s all about providing your audience with value, mainly in answers to their questions (e.g. content found through search). Beyond providing value, the content needs to funnel interest towards purchasing from you (let’s not forget that).
The best inbound marketing campaigns make the transition from research to purchase an easy one for potential customers.
B2B Inbound marketing considerations
When I’m talking about B2B here, I’m talking about considered purchases – things that take more than one person, more than a day to weigh up pros and cons and move forward with a purchase.
It’s not hard to find plenty of information out there on the Googleweb about to steps to develop quality inbound marketing campaigns. Notably, you need to be attuned to your buyers’ needs… and ensure you have content that answers questions/needs at every stage of their research/evaluation/purchase process. In most cases this means multiple types of buyer (different roles) and different content formats to keep things fresh and engaging. Automation of the nurture stages through a Marketing Automation platform is typically essential too.
But let’s assume you can generate engaging content that maps directly on to your buyers’ needs, configure your marketing automation platform and manage social media channels to perfection. Are you missing anything?
Yes, I believe you are.
Inbound Marketing – moving it to the next level
As a business, how many times have you delivered a solution/product/service to a customer and they have immediately ‘got it’ and hit the ground running… seeing an immediate return on their investment? Thought so; you’re not alone.
With higher ticket-price B2B sales, there is always a good chunk of onboarding, training, change-management, etc. for any new customer. Why not take that upstream and use the nurture stages inherent in any good inbound campaign to deliver some of this.
Bring more users into the fold – don’t stop at marketing to the buyers; the buyer group is a dynamic mash of financial, political, technical and practical viewpoints anyway. Invite buyers to evaluate more thoroughly by engaging deeply with your products, invite end-users to get involved too.
And whilst B2C marketing involves fewer buyers and typically shorter buying cycles, there’s plenty here that can be applied to higher value B2C products too.
To summarise the above, take into considerations the following three points when generating your inbound marketing:
- Consider your buyers’ needs – by their role and stage in the buying cycle
- Make your content engaging – deliver value, but make it memorable and enjoyable
- Bring your product closer to the buyers – don’t just tease with ‘benefits’ but let them invest time in getting to know it, smoothing the transition to using it and reducing the time to value
I’ve worked with a number of clients to help them understand their buyers’ needs, generate content to answer these and deliver it through varying degrees of automated sophistication. The most successful of these have delivered well on each of the points above. Make sure you do too.