04 Aug Client-Focused Marketing: Offering Value Through Inbound Strategies
Breaking out of the crowd can be challenging regardless of one’s industry, even with a unique and valuable product or service. To achieve success, many companies now turn to inbound marketing. This article will cover the fundamentals of inbound marketing, what sets it apart, and how to do it right.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
The marketing world can be divided into two categories: inbound and outbound marketing. Both excel in different aspects and have their place in a company’s overall strategy. Outbound marketing is the process of approaching potential customers from the get-go, in an attempt to seal a deal. Its intent is to secure and finalize a sale directly, by promoting how great a certain product or service is.
Inbound marketing is more of a slow burn, investing in valuable content that its target audience is looking for and building up your position in relevant communities, before arriving at a sales-oriented conversation. As opposed to outbound marketing, inbound marketing’s initial intent isn’t to give a direct sales pitch; its goal is to provide, in addition to its products and services, enriching texts and videos for prospective clients, colleagues, and whoever else might benefit from them. This will eventually result in potential customers approaching you, with the desire to see what you can offer them.
The process of inbound marketing is gradual, but once it takes effect, it can yield sustainable profits built on trust and brand appreciation, to a degree that a single-punch sales approach would be hard-pressed to provide.
Utilizing Inbound Marketing’s Three Pillars to Your Advantage
Inbound marketing believes that developing an appreciation for your company will solidify your relationship with prospective clients. To do so, it focuses on showing community members what your company can do for them, through a process that converts them from a detached community member seeking to educate themselves, to prospective client ready to consider working with you and finally to a customer whose continued satisfaction you’re looking to secure.
This process can be divided into the three main pillars that form the basis of inbound marketing: content creation, lead conversion, and continued customer support.
Content Creation and The Inbound Funnel
Inbound campaigns rely on a funneling system that warms up your leads over time: it begins by gathering information on the issues that interest key position holders who can choose to rely on the products and services your company has to offer. This will supply you with keywords and topics that should be incorporated into the content you write, in order to draw them to it.
As prospective leads progress through the funnel, they should be introduced to increasingly targeted, original content that focuses on their concerns and provides them with unique value they cannot find elsewhere:
Top of the Funnel: After figuring out your industry leaders’ passions and concerns, you should start creating interesting content that elaborates on these issues while referring to key business terms. Such top-of-the-funnel content would use a professional vernacular to discuss prospective leads’ interests and pain points, with your company’s website, products and services gaining exposure in the process.
Middle of the Funnel: The next stage in an inbound campaign would be to offer middle-of-the-funnel content. This is where you would start addressing the available solutions to the issues and pain points that concern your audience. Not all the solutions mentioned have to be provided by your company, though they should be included among the different options. Middle-of-the-funnel content moves the discussion from a more general discussion to what can make your readers’ lives easier. Focusing on available solutions will build up your company as a professional source of relevant knowledge, while getting prospective clients to consider how your company can be of use to them and their companies.
Bottom of the Funnel: With community members now turning their attention to your company, it is time to highlight the ways they stand to benefit from the products and services you provide. This is where bottom-of-the-funnel content comes in, which focus on why the specific solutions you can offer them are better than the alternatives, and should be seriously considered when approaching the relevant pain points.
Lead Conversion: Establishing a Personal Connection
After going through the different levels of the content funnel, prospective clients are more open to hear about your company and what it can do for them. Lead conversion tunes into this increased receptiveness, as they approach them with direct messaging.
Marketing Qualified Leads: A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a prospective client whose appreciation for your company has already been established through previous exposure to the content your company has provided. As a result, an MQL is more likely to consider your company’s solutions as preferable to the alternatives on the market.
Sales Qualified Leads: After running a qualification process to assure an MQL is ready to be approached with a concrete offer, a lead can be considered a sales qualified lead (SQL). It is at this point that a sales-directed rep (SDR) would contact them with a sales opportunity that can best meet their needs.
Continued Customer Satisfaction
The final stage of inbound marketing returns to its core principle of understanding your audience’s concerns, by acknowledging existing clients’ needs and looking to keep them satisfied. Customer support helps gather client feedback, hear what they are satisfied with as well as any critiques, learn what they are still not receiving from you, and understand how you can make your relationship with them a better experience.
Customer support can also include a sub-division focused on technical support, which aims to ensure your clients’ satisfaction from operating your products and making use of your services.
The information and feedback you draw from the customer satisfaction stage will help you implement improvements and develop new products and services. It can also inspire you to offer clients updated content that reflects the issues they are currently affected by. This will allow you to better meet the needs of present and future customers, as you focus your efforts on what they truly want from you.
A High-Value, Professional Approach that Translates into Sales
A good way to understand the advantages that inbound marketing provides is through the following gardening metaphor: think of your industry as a garden, filled with different plants (prospective clients who belong to your own community) that may or may not “blossom” into a sale. If you never invest in your relationship with them, and just go out into the garden each day in the hopes of spotting a flower, chances are you won’t find that many. However, if you take the time to care for your garden, by providing it with the water, sunlight and nutrients it needs (targeted, high-quality content), the end result will be a lush, fertile backyard filled with flowers that are ready to be picked.
Though it’s been around for less time than the more straight-shooting outbound marketing, inbound marketing’s success is due to several fundamental principles that have always existed in advertising—namely, that decision-makers need to trust you before they’ll be willing to hear you out; that establishing brand loyalty pays off in the long run; and perhaps most importantly—that we all want to be seen, for our individual attributes, concerns, aspirations, and hurdles to overcome. Putting in the hard work when interacting with others is a solid way to gain their appreciation and cultivate an ongoing relationship. In the end, that’s what inbound marketing is all about.