Before someone can buy from you, they have to notice you. The challenge is to get them to notice you. For years businesses relied on advertising to get noticed. Unfortunately today we view advertising as an interruption.
Days of interruption as a marketing strategy are over
Interrupting people is expensive. Creating invasive television commercials which break into the middle of programs or giant billboards on the side of the road which disrupt the peaceful landscape are a large investment with a shrinking pay off. Consumers fast forward through the ads, change the station on the radio and look the other way as they drive down the road. They don’t want to be interrupted.
In addition to the dwindling responses, the costs of advertising continues to rise putting interruption strategies beyond the reach of most small business owners. Even if you have a budget for traditional advertising there is always a bigger, more well funded competitor out there. It is almost impossible to win the race to outspend your competitors. If you do, the victory is short lived. As soon as you stop spending, your ads disappear and you fall behind again.
The alternative is Inbound Marketing.
You probably can’t outspend your competitors but you can out teach them. Sharing educational, informative and relevant information is the key to successful Inbound Marketing. This is a process which starts with blog posts, videos or podcasts, white papers, workbooks and check lists, broadly referred to as content, designed to answer questions your prospective customers are likely to have.
The content, which should be hosted on your web site, is then shared across a wide range of platforms, from social media to email and placement on related websites. The existence of this content increases the chances that prospective customers will find your company when they look to find products and services like yours.
Your customers are looking for information.
Although it doesn’t happen as often as it did a few years ago, every now and then someone will tell me their customers aren’t on line. There is no nice way to say this, but if you believe that you have your head up your… well you know what I mean.
Even in low tech, lagging industries, people are looking for information on line. They will find it from you or your competitor. The data supports this assertion. Companies that add a content program to their site see significantly more traffic and sales leads.
It isn’t magic. More content gives people more ways to stumble on your website when they are in research mode. Offers for more information in exchange for an email give them what they came looking for, and give you a way to stay in touch.
Quality content is built over time.
Don’t rush to put junk out there, just to have a lot of information stuffed with keywords. While the high volume, low quality content may fool search engines it won’t fool people. And ultimately, you need people to buy from you. So focus on building helpful, interesting content so people want to download, share and eventually call you.
Unlike advertising, this is an asset which builds value over time. The content you wrote a week or two ago or even a month ago will continue to be found in niche services and continue to drive traffic for months or years to come.
Search engines may or may not notice the first article you wrote on brown, square widgets. However once you have a series of articles about those widgets you begin to be seen as an authority and your content is more likely to be found when someone searches for brown, square widgets.
It doesn’t happen over night. Websites aren’t launched with enough rich content to get ahead of the competitors. But slowly, as you consistently add quality information, your foot print on the internet grows. The trick is to keep doing it. Just when you aren’t sure anyone is reading, you will get an email or download notification or someone will tell you they found your site in a Google search. Then you know your inbound marketing program is working.
Want to learn more about in inbound marketing? Download our Inbound Marketing Worksheet to see if this type of program makes sense for you.