Inbound marketingIf you look to Wikipedia (a sometimes reliable source) you’ll find a pretty clear summation of inbound marketing with some editorializing thrown in for flavor.

“Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy which focuses on getting found by customers. This sense is related to relationship marketing and Seth Godin’s idea of permission marketing. David Meerman Scott recommends that marketers “earn their way in” (via publishing helpful information on a blog etc.) in contrast to outbound marketing where they used to have to “buy, beg, or bug their way in” (via paid advertisements, issuing press releases in the hope they get picked up by the trade press, or paying commissioned sales people, respectively)…”

When people ask me what Inbound Marketing means here’s what I say:

Inbound marketing is a strategy using what you know about your customer and what they want to draw them to you instead of broadcasting out how great you are and hope they find you. If you treat your customers like people, create relationships on some level with them, listen carefully to what they want, you can create an avenue for them to connect with you and your team directly and this will make it easier to demonstrate the value of what you have to offer.

How are you going to create those relationships? Social media is a good place to start. Trust me, if you aren’t using inbound marketing practices–at least by monitoring social sites for mentions of services you offer–you’re missing leads and opportunities to connect with them and create lasting relationships.

The antonym for Inbound Marketing is Outbound Marketing. This, in my mind, is the old style of doing things. Mass emails, direct mailing without filters, spraying your message on the masses in the hopes that .01% of them pick up the message and call you. It can be time consuming and expensive and relationships–if they exist at all–are flimsy.

Why make a change?
There’s been a huge culture shift over the last 5-10 years in the way customers locate and learn about your product. People are in control of what information they receive more than ever. Over 200 Million people are registered in the “do not call” list. The phone book, once the go-to for local information is relegated to the recycle bin and some cities actually want to outlaw it’s delivery unless the user has opted to receive it. 50% of recipients say they do not open direct mail pieces sent to them.

In contrast, according to the Email Stat Center, inbound marketing results in a cost per lead reduction of 62% over outbound marketing organizations.

What’s it going to take?
Inbound marketing does take a mind set shift, but there are a lot of resources out there to help you make that leap, and at Tatu Digital Media we pride ourselves on our understanding on how to use inbound marketing strategy to really create relationships that lead to sales. Why make cold calls and spray and pray when you can cultivate a lead generating system that by it’s very nature grows and includes new potential leads?

In a study conducted by social networking site myYearbook, 81 percent of respondents said they’d received advice from friends and followers relating to a product purchase through a social site; 74 percent of those who received such advice found it to be influential in their decision. (Click Z, January 2010)

53% of people on Twitter recommend companies and/or products in their Tweets, with 48% of them delivering on their intention to buy the product. (ROI Research for Performance, June 2010)

Think of inbound marketing as sales 2.0. Here’s a highly simplified 3 step process to implement inbound marketing four your business.

Inbound marketing step 1: Get to know your prospects.
There’s a lot of information out there. Some might say too much. Like any other kind of relationship building you need to get to know who you’re dealing with. If you do some searches on me for example you’ll see that I’m a Mac user, I ride horses, love the California coastline and travel quite a bit. Any salesperson worth her salt sees the value in this kind of information to develop a relationship, right?

Inbound marketing step 2: Turn prospects into leads
So you’ve attended the tweetups, had conversations with people on your blog, Facebook page or whatever networks you’re using. Now what? Use those listening skills you’ve developed to look for an opening to convert a prospect into a lead. Just because you met them online doesn’t mean you have to go through the whole sales cycle on Twitter! Use your social media presence to encourage prospects to subscribe to a newsletter. Give away information that will help them make the smartest possible decision on what services to use.

Inbound marketing step 3: Create evangelists
Probably the most touted word used by social media consultants is “evangelist”. The truth is; when you create relationships online and show you’re an honest forthright person making a living, when your business shows it’s support for the community, the people in the community support you back. A ClickzWhen you send out a call to action they are more likely to respond to the guy they’When been chatting with online than a cold call. Wouldn’t you?

Now of course this is all simplified and every company has a unique circumstance. You need a customized strategy that takes into account your long term goals, timelines and resources. We can help. Contact us to learn more.

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