As anyone with similar years of experience (25+ years) in the marketing and communications field as I have would tell you, they’ll utilized most marketing techniques that are available. And for well over half that time communicating a message probably included the use of print advertising, radio, direct mail, guerilla marketing, television, event/trade show marketing, public relations and email blasts to name a few.
This type of marketing is marketing you pay for up front but usually has a diminishing return on your investment calling for further investing to sustain brand recognition. This is known as Outbound Marketing.
It is a necessary evil and if done well helps sustain and grow any enterprise, however, it’s not the only marketing choice today.
Over the last 5-10 years with the popularity and mainstream use of the internet and other technologies, business and purchasing habits have changed. Research and information gathering by the purchasing decision-makers is primarily culled online.
Years ago purchasing mailing lists and sending direct mail or email blasts worked well. However, research shows that the average open rate for these techniques is down from 39% in 2004 to 22% in 2008 and is continuing to drop. Trade show attendance is down as is trade publication subscriptions. Trade writers are now writing their own blogs.
Today, you need to make it as easy as possible for your prospects to find you online. That means being pro-active with an Inbound Marketing strategy.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing are the techniques and ways of pulling-in the thousands of prospects utilizing the Web today to your site. The thought is to turn your website into a “hub”. A destination where a prospect is brought to from another source. Some of these marketing channels include blogs, using a fan base on Facebook, creating connections on LinkedIn, getting followers on Twitter, driving traffic to Digg, being bookmarked on Delicious, or being found on YouTube.
From a business perspective, don’t think of these as “social media sites” but rather “NEW MEDIA CHANNELS”. These sites are no longer just a way to communicate to friends, but a means of YOUR CUSTOMERS finding relevant purchasing information that is important to them.
Once an Inbound Marketing strategy is in place, the costs are virtually none existent and the value is long lasting –unlike the diminishing value from Outbound Marketing. The only thing required is an effort to constantly keep interesting content in front of your potential customers. The more your brand and content is in cyberspace, the more easily you will be found and the more chances that a sale can be realized.
Get Involved in New Media Channels
All kinds of business information is gathered using a variety of New Media Channels. These channels are all used to connect, interact and to share – within all business industries.
There are well over 100 million blogs in the blogoshere. Your target audience is reading these as much as – if not more than – the trade publications. Read some. Write some. Contribute to some. Subscribe (RSS) to good, relevent industry blogs to keep on top of new content as it comes out.
Facebook (200 million users with a growing demographic of those aged 35 and older), LinkedIn (20 million users with an average age of 41) and YouTube (100 million views each day) are all becoming mainstream. From a business’ perspective, these are all useful New Media Channels. Other powerful channels are news sites (Digg.com) and bookmarking sites (Delicious.com).
You must match the way your prospects learn about and gather their decision-making information – and today that means utiilizing these New Media Channels.
Contribute to online conversations by leaving thoughtful comments. By constantly leaving good, relevant comments the author is likely to notice and go to your blog and perhaps link back to your site. This creates authority for you, thereby creating higher SERP ranking for you.
Build a strong online brand with well written profiles and have consistent use of user names and avatar image. List your business in as many on-line directories as possible.
Develop a business page on Facebook. This allows for better engaging with your prospects including forum discussions, photo uploads, testimonials etc.
Build connections on LinkedIn. Consider building a LinkedIn Group, or get involved in an existing one.
Contribute to the LinkedIn Answers feature. (Only answering those questions you can answer well. It’s all about presenting yourself as an authority within your industry.)
Create a YouTube account and post videos.
Submit articles to Digg and use a Digg button on your blog to encourage votes. Visibility on the front page of Digg can get you over 25,000 views to your website.
Consider using the “discovery” site StumbledUpon and it’s browser toolbar on your site.
Why involve yourself with all these new channels?
Two words – MORE REACH.
To read more on the subject I highly recommend the book: Inbound Marketing. Get found using Google, Social Media and Blogs by Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah.