If you're reading this, you've likely already concluded that Inbound Marketing is the way to get in front of potential customers. Outbound, interruption marketing techniques just don't work effectively enough to justify the expense.
Let's take a look at some considerations for any small business getting started with Inbound Marketing.
What's Your Desired Outcome?
No, we aren't going to start by looking at Facebook, SEO, Email or any other tactic. First things first. What are you trying to achieve by getting started with inbound marketing?
Often the outcome for any any business is to increase sales or profits. Non-profits usually want to raise money, promote an event or raise awareness for a cause. Others might be looking to increase applicants for school or jobs.
The common theme here is that you need to know what success looks like to work towards achieving it.
If you'd like to have an even better outcome, get specific. How much do you want to increase sales or profits? What donation amount do you want raise online? How many applicants are you aiming to get online? A specific number will make the goal more real and achievable.
Remember to be realistic. If you currently have a brochureware site with no real traffic, don't expect to double your company's sales by the end of the year with a new Inbound Marketing strategy.
Get Clear On WHO Your Best Buyers Are
Every business has an ideal buyer. This is a buyer that:
- truly values what you bring to the table
- gladly pays your fee in exchange for the value
- is a pleasure to work with
- refers their friends, colleagues and family
- buys the most often
- shares a mutual respect for and your company
When you're just getting started with Inbound Marketing, you must establish who these best buyers are for you. In Inbound Marketing, we call your best buyer, your buyer persona. A buyer persona goes far beyond the basic demographics commonly found in a "target market". A buyer persona focuses on who they really are. What makes them tick?
By understanding your best buyers as people, you can better serve them with content and Inbound Marketing.
Understand How Your Buyer Persona Purchases Your Offering
How does your buyer persona(s) make a decision to buy from you rather than your competitor? Even more important; how do they identify the problem your company solves and determine that you are a potential solution?
In Inbound Marketing, we call these processes the buyer's journey. It's vital to understand how your best buyers start to research the symptoms of the problem you solve in order to be there when they are looking.
By understanding how your buyer persona goes from awareness of the problem you solve to make a buying decision with your company, you can be there every step of the way, making their decision you the entire time.
Establish Your Content Creation Machine
Content Marketing is a core pillar in Inbound Marketing. Without it, you will fail. You have to have a system in place to steadily create high quality content if you are getting started with Inbound Marketing. If not, your efforts will fizzle.
Why is content so important? Because that's how we as buyers begin our buyer's journey. We research. We go to Google and type in our symptoms. We figure out what our problem is without talking to a sales person. We make a short list of solutions, before we talk to a sales person. We engage a salesperson, right before we buy. We come to the sales process ready to buy. How are we so prepared? Because we've read and researched online. We've asked for referrals, online. We've done our homework online. ALL by consuming content, ONLINE.
When you're getting started with Inbound Marketing, you have to identify how/who/when content will be created that reaches your buyer persona at each stage of their buyer's journey.
Understand The Required Website Functions
As I mentioned above, you cannot have a brochureware site. Your website will need some core features to be successful at Inbound Marketing. Some of the features include:
- Responsive Design for mobile friendliness
- Landing page functionality
- Calls to action
- A blog
- A Content Management System (CMS)
There are certainly other features that are nice to have, but this list will get you comfortably started with Inbound Marketing.
Define Processes For Marketing & Sales
Don't leave this part to chance. Layout what the workflows are. How will you follow up with leads? WHO will follow up with leads? What will they send them? How will the process work?
Did I Mention Content?
If there's one element of this list you MUST have running like a finely tuned machine, it's your content creation. From your website copy and blog posts to your high value gated content and video, you have to be able to produce content regularly.
There are tons of options including establishing an in house team or using a company like ours. The bottom line is, you need great content marketing if you want to reach your objectives with Inbound Marketing.