Turning outbound marketing ‘in’

You missed a lot at The Simons Group this week. First, we got new chairs. My back has never felt better! (I also have a great price on some – lightly – used office chairs, if anyone is looking.)

Second, we had a kickoff meeting to integrate inbound marketing into our own rebranding effort. What is inbound marketing, you ask? Let’s start at the beginning.

The first marketing touch-point for a prospect generally comes through a company’s outbound marketing. Outbound marketing makes sure prospects are aware of your company and services. An easy way to think of outbound marketing is that it’s any time a company reaches out to potential customers. Cold calls, email lists, direct mail and digital, print and broadcast advertising all fall into this category. Obviously, good outbound marketing is essential for shaping your brand awareness and perception, but it’s a blunt tool that shows the same content to every prospect.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is specialized ­and relies on you breaking the trail for customers to find and engage with your company. Inbound marketing centers not only around bringing new prospects in, but also on keeping and enticing quality prospects. Once the outbound marketing has yielded awareness, inbound marketing draws prospects closer and moves them through – and beyond –the sales cycle by showcasing specialized, relevant content.

An inbound marketing campaign puts specific content in front of specific prospects – those who would find it relevant. Developing such a campaign requires creating a small series of buyer profiles to help define your target audiences’ differences.

An example of a buyer profile is a mid-level industry manager at a national company whose main concern is finding a solution with a good return on investment. Within this strategy, the content you would direct his way would showcase how your solution has definable metrics and flexibility to adapt to long-term needs. Then, you have to work that content into a strategy that makes it appear when and where that mid-level manager is most likely to interact with it. The hope is that the content is so relevant the prospect develops enough respect for your brand to become a client, and is enthusiastic enough to become an advocate for the company.

While none of your buyer profiles will come to life and walk through your door, creating content for a smaller generalized group will help a broader range of prospects find what you’re doing worthwhile. This is why the planning stages of an inbound marketing campaign are crucial. It is important to get an accurate buyer profile before implementing a content strategy so that your efforts are most effective.

Have you made the shift toward inbound marketing? Let us know what you think about it in the comments.

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