Inbound Marketing Methodology: create content that is attractive, useful and valuable for your target market.
Running a small business, it is easy to believe that the “big boys” have all the fun when it comes to inbound marketing and the opportunity to create innovative content. The well-publicized successes of companies like Nike and Red Bull can be inspiring and discouraging and inspiring all at the same time.
But stop to think about it: what is really so glamorous about an energy drink that sends your heart into caffeinated palpitations? And what does Red Bull actually spend their time marketing….their drink? No. They market the lifestyle that near-lethal doses of caffeine can deliver.
Market the lifestyle.
Let’s look at one very boring industry, the self storage industry. If you are marketing self storage you are essentially marketing a closet with really bad lighting.
So don’t focus on the closet!
One of our clients, Eastern Self Storage, incorporated this message into their recent branding and advertising. Rather than tout the benefits of their facility, they focused on the lifestyle their clients pursued.
Go Anywhere from Here
Think about it: you store your stuff so you can live a leaner, sleeker lifestyle. You store it to make way for something new, or to move in a new direction. You store your “stuff” so you can go anywhere. That is a message that resonates.
So how do you create inbound marketing for this magical closet that can transform your life?
Add value to your clientele
Start blogging and tweeting about the ideal life your customers would like to live. Let’s stick with our self storage industry example. If you limit yourself to blogging about the comparative advantages of a 5X5 unit vs. a 5X10, AC or no AC, you are going to run out of compelling material quickly.
Instead, maybe you come up with a content list like this to start:
- Travel tips and tricks (including how to forward your mail to your facility’s mailboxes for rent)
- Moving help: how to hire the right kind of movers, 10 things you must do before you move, how to clean your home after you move out.
- Business storage: profiles of businesses who use your facility in innovative ways, such as record storage, lawyers who store evidence for upcoming cases, or the art dealer who stores his excess inventory. All these, by the way, are real examples from Eastern Self Storage’s client roster.
Give free offers of perceived value
The core principle of inbound marketing says that you offer information of value to your clients. If you are running the storage facility, consider creating premium offers such as 2 for 1 coupons, a complete moving guide and worksheet, city resource guides for your incoming clientele, or free packing supplies to help them with their move. Offer these goods in exchange for their email so that you have permission to continue moving them along their buyer’s journey toward choosing you.
Your customers complete 60% – 80% of their buyer’s journey before they ever walk in your front door.
Why bother with Inbound Marketing? Why are we doing this?
- Correctly applied inbound marketing methodology will increase the demand for your product.
- With targeted searches on social media you can dominate a local market for your small business.
- You create thought leadership and become the expert in your field. You can do this even easier if your field is a small one! Become the go-to resource.
- Decrease your expenditures on outbound — or traditional — marketing. Inbound marketing costs less per customer.
Outsource your Inbound Marketing
One objection to creating a comprehensive inbound marketing campaign, of course, is that small businesses are already short on staff, time and money. It is hard to find the time or people to focus consistently on marketing, and all good marketing requires frequency and attention to be effective.
You will want to consider hiring an inbound marketing agency to become your marketing department. There are several advantages to using an agency over creating content in-house.
- You focus on building your core business, which is what you know best. After collaborating on a plan for your marketing campaign, your agency will go about the many tasks of implementing and measuring its results while you go about running your own business.
- You avoid hiring dedicated staff. As your marketing needs expand with the growth of your business, having an outside agency helps you avoid the necessity of hiring additional staff to accommodate the growth. In addition, since agencies operate with an economy of scale, your costs for dedicated experts managing your campaigns are far smaller than hiring one potentially frazzled employee.
- Climb in organic search listings on Google. Consistently creating quality content for your business enables you to climb higher in Google’s organic listings online. This makes your business easier to find for your vendors and your customers and drives traffic and visitors to both your online property and your brick and mortar location.
- Deepen your reach in your marketing. Agencies have an expertise in placing your content where it will be found by the right target audience. This gives you more return on your marketing investment. And using marketing automation software program such as HubSpot, you will have in-depth analysis and the metrics you need to prove your ROI over time.