Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing, and today’s guest post is from Jolynn Oblak – Enjoy!

Leveraging inbound marketing strategies can help small business grow their customer base and save money. There are two basic types of marketing – inbound and outbound. The focus of each is different and they involve different strategies and techniques.

What is Outbound Marketing?

Outbound marketing, also referred to as interruption marketing, involves getting your marketing message to the largest number of people possible through advertising, cold calling, direct mail and other aggressive techniques that interrupt people in their daily lives. Seth Godin writes extensively about interruption marketing in his book, Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers. Outbound marketing is a marketing model that requires a lot of marketing messages to be pushed out through various channels in the hope that the right message makes it to the right person. This is an expensive marketing model.  So what options exist today that are cost-effective and deliver results for small businesses?  In Hubspot’s 2014 state of inbound report, we find evidence to support the position that inbound marketing has the potential to deliver better results than outbound marketing.

“Half of marketers across B2B, B2C, and nonprofit sectors ranked inbound as their primary lead source, exceeding the average (42%) of all other channels combined.”

Here are 4 key reasons that inbound marketing is the right investment for small businesses who are looking for an effective marketing method for customer acquisition.

1. The Price of Inbound vs. Outbound

Outbound marketing is a very expensive endeavor.  The average cost per lead in North America is significantly less when using inbound marketing strategies. [Source: Hubspot state of inbound report, 2014].

hubspot cost per lead b2b

photo credit: State of Inbound 2014

The costs associated with outbound marketing often involves printing and mailing materials or spreading your message through television, radio or other media, making it out of reach for smaller businesses. Inbound marketing is less expensive and anyone with the right skills can do it. You create your website and blog with content that is targeted to your primary market and with a good content marketing strategy, you can attract prospects to you. You do most of the work on the front end building your site, optimizing with SEO and building a website traffic strategy. Social media is a relatively inexpensive way to find your target market compared to traditional advertising and print media.  According to Hubspot, over the last 6 months, companies are relying more on Social Media, Blogging, Email Marketing and SEO for lead generation than traditional, outbound marketing [Source: Hubspot state of inbound report, 2014].

The diagram below from, Moz compares the benefits and tactics of interruption. With so many marketing messages thrust into our daily lives, it’s no wonder that consumers are ignoring these constant messages.

Interruption marketing and inbound marketing

photo credit: Moz

2. It Offers Better Two-Way Communication

One huge advantage of inbound marketing is that it’s a form of two-way communication where the customer interacts with the business in a dialog. They post on the company’s Facebook wall, comment on business blogs, or take part in contests. When they participate, they become invested and engaged. People want to be in control of the information they get and this makes them more receptive to your message. A great example of a successful inbound marketing campaign that illustrated this beautifully is the Barack Obama 2008 presidential campaign which was unprecedented in its use of social media to engage, motivate and respond to voter’s needs.

3. People Won’t Tune out your messages. Period!

Outbound marketing means putting your message in front of people whether they want to hear it or not. As a result, its techniques are often intrusive and annoying. People have begun to tune it out. Inbound marketing puts your message in front of your target market and if you employ the right content marketing strategy, they will be compelled by their own curiosity to see what you have to offer. In fact, blogging can yield 13 times increased ROI over a year [Source: Hubspot state of inbound report, 2014] and B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67% more leads per month than those who do not. [Source: Social Media B2B].

4. Inbound Marketing for Non-Marketers

Inbound marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. To market traditionally through direct mail or cold calling takes a certain amount of aggressiveness and sales skill. With inbound marketing, you provide valuable content like whitepapers, infographics and blog posts that help attract your ideal customer. It’s not “selling” in the traditional sense, so it’s more appealing to those who hate the image of the pushy salesman and may feel uncomfortable pushing their message.

Clearly, small businesses can benefit in many ways by adopting an inbound marketing strategy. Think of inbound marketing as the magnet to acquire the right customer and start today with a plan for how your small business can leverage it in 2015.

tbITPFIpJolynn Oblak operates Oblak Marketing & Consulting, a marketing consultancy that offers digital training products that help entrepreneurs to grow their business by leveraging inbound marketing strategies. Jolynn brings more than a decade of direct & inbound marketing success to help businesses drive their products and services to a larger clientele by developing effective sales funnels and marketing plans that will turn prospects into customers and customers into lifelong fans. She shares actionable tips on business blogging, social media marketing and more via her blog. You can get in touch with Jolynn via her website at www.jolynnoblak.com or via Facebook or Twitter

The Ultimate Tutorial to Add Inbound Marketing Into Your PR Strategy

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Kelly Marsh – Enjoy!

Inbound Marketing

photo credit: Gavin Llewellyn via photopin

Inbound marketing has become a popular strategy for a number of things including for being the best startup PR strategy. It has been often helped businesses exponentially with bringing in customers along with building up its brands like a pioneer in the space. Inbound marketing has really helped  online entrepreneurs in their business promotions along with having a tangible public relationship strategy.

Inbound marketing shouldn’t be looked at as a smorgasbord; rather you have the option of comparing the same complete and balance meal with different courses- main course, appetizer, dessert, side dishes, and also the leftovers. Unlike any other marketing strategy, inbound marketing should be a coordinated endeavor. In nutshell,  inbound marketing needs focus. In today’s high-end world, staying focused and concentrated on any task could be a big challenge. Let’s take a look at the ultimate tutorial for adding  inbound marketing as your startup PR strategy.

Blogging

A blog can be called one of the best inbound marketing strategies, which can help make your PR strong and in the long run, can help in building up your thought leadership. This inbound strategy can benefit you in many ways, which include giving you the opportunity to post fresh, new content along with optimizing relevant and targeted keywords pertaining to your niche area. You get the opportunity to leverage the best in terms of search engine optimization, however, this doesn’t mean in blogging you only write for search engines; the customer comes first. This helps in rendering the value along with things like social sharing and additional resources.

Social media

The platform of social networking  is not just a way to interact and make friends but also can be one of the best inbound marketing strategies in itself. Social networking sites have become a real new touchpoint to communicate with the existing and prospective clients. It is an excellent outlet for your business content. You will be able to build up your  social media strategy by simply identifying the most appropriate social networking site. Also, by merely having a social media profile on different sites does not mean that you have the same leverage for your PR activities, so you need to plan for the best. In order to start increasing your social profiles make sure you link properly to targeted links within your business site. For carrying out the business to business marketing, LinkedIn is more relevant along with other sites like Google Plus, Twitter, and YouTube. For business to consumers marketing purposes, sites like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are ideal sites.

Paid Search Advertising

This is known as PPC (Pay Per Click) ads, which is a controversial strategy in the domain of inbound marketing. People often are seen debating it; some call it an important inbound marketing strategy, while others do not agree. Though you may find this strategy straddling the line, you can appropriately call it one of the best inbound marketing strategies, which can even be a robust one. PPC can be an important method, which helps in complementing your site traffic while you create organic or natural search authority via SEO enhancements. The fact of the matter is if you want to have high commercial intent searches, PPC can outrank the organic search results.

Word of Mouth

More than 90 percent of word of mouth ads often occur offline. So, how it is relevant to your inbound marketing is a big question to answer. If you talk about inbound marketing strategies, you can use strategy as a conversation starter. The inbound marketing strategies can be a tactic that will help in discussing your business. Though most of these conversations are happen online, you still have the option of influencing and shaping things for your PR activities. Ideas like events, promotions, interactive tools and contests communicated via the digital channels (social media and websites) can increase the engagement and thus build up your traffic.

Final word

Inbound marketing is all about talking and discussing ideas in your niche area, which you have targeted. If you are really interested in tapping inbound marketing for your startup PR activities, the above options can help you the most. Keep trying them out!

Kelly MarshKelly Marsh is the writer of this post. She writes articles on Women’s education, Health, Social Media and Online reputation.  These days she contributes on getamplify.

Are You Building Your Business With a Crock-pot or a Microwave?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dan Kraus – Enjoy!
Are you building your business with a Crockpot or Microwave?

Photo Credit: lisaclarke via photopin cc

My Hubspot channel colleague Rachel Cogar at Puma Creative has a phase that I just absolutely love – she describes Inbound Marketing as a crock-pot strategy, not a microwave strategy.  Meaning, quite vividly I would add, that you will get a very tasty meal of inbound traffic and leads if you are willing have patience and put the time in for inbound marketing.

I’d go further than Rachel does with this however, and say that pretty much all marketing in a complex buying process is a crock-pot strategy.  We work with a lot of technology re-sellers/dealers/vars and they sell complex and expensive software, which performs critical functions for mid sized and smaller large businesses.

This is a not a quick turnover process.  A new customer purchase, with software and services, easily runs into the six-figures.  And the process to buy is long, complex and fraught with difficult questions to ask, answer and consider.

We’ve been seeing estimates that customers in complex purchases believe that they have completed anywhere from 60% to 80% of their buying process before they ever talk to a vendor on the phone.  SIXTY TO EIGHTY percent finished before you ever get to talk with them.

If you’ve been in business for about 10 years or more, think back – what was your sales cycle before the search engine ruled the world?  And what is it today? I am willing to guess that if you said your sales cycle used to be 6 months, and you really look at the time from engagement to close today, it probably is 6 to 8 weeks now.  So no, it hasn’t gotten shorter – its gotten hidden.  That engagement you used to have early on, as you educated a prospect, is now engagement the prospect takes upon themselves in a self-directed manner.

The impact of this is pretty profound in 3 key areas:

  1. We have a much more difficult time forecasting our sales future because we get engaged with prospects much later.  If we sell a product that used to have a 6-month sales cycle, we could reasonably do a weighted forecast, six months out.  If you are only seeing prospects now 6 to 8 weeks before they buy, it’s a lot hard to forecast six months.
  2. You don’t get a lot of opportunity to impact your prospects thought process.  The education that your prospect goes through is self-directed.  You don’t get to control the conversation. In fact, you will probably not even be able to impact the conversation unless you are putting out high quality educational materials on a regular basis such that Google sees you as a good source of education.
  3. You have a shorter window of time, space and energy to show why you are different than you have ever had before.  If the sales cycle that you are engaged with is shorter, and the prospect is self-educated, you have to have an extremely clear point of differentiation that is in-your-face obvious (and can be seen on a mobile phone).  If your prospects have to dig around to see why you are different, you lose.  The back button the browser or opening a new tab on my mobile is just too easy.

So back to our crock-pot and microwave.

To help educate these prospects and have them engage with you at the end of their buying process, they need to find you at the beginning.  This is the crock-pot.  You need to know the ingredients and keep adding them to the stew.  And give it time to cook.

Non-metaphorically – you need to know what the knowledge or understanding that your prospect is looking for and make it available when they want it (and in the format they want it).

The challenge with microwave strategies in a complex buying cycle is that sometimes they work.  Your telemarketer looking for leads might stumble upon someone who is ready to buy now.  That lead you purchased from a lead-aggregator may be a perfect fit customer for your organization and purchase next week.  But these results are unpredictable and make it difficult to consistently grow your business.

So by all means, use the microwave, but just like in your kitchen, there are some things that just don’t cook well in three to five minutes of radiation.  To make sure that you will always be well-fed, be sure you also get the crock-pot going, and always keep adding new and tasty ingredients for your prospects to feast on.

Dan KrausDan Kraus is the founder and president of the Leading Results marketing agency and a Master Duct Tape Marketing consultant.  Dan has been a sales and marketing professional for over 25 years, previously working for companies such as Great Plains Software and SAP. Based in Charlotte, NC, Leading Results has worked with Duct Tape Marketing for five years and is a Gold Certified Hubspot partner.  Leading Results helps clients in 14 different time zones to stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t get results.

Marketing Automation for Small Business

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Wendy Coombes– Enjoy!

photo credit: iStock Photo

photo credit: iStock Photo

If you are a small business marketer, you know that the number of channels across which to deliver your key messages has increased considerably. While it is great that we have so many opportunities to attract and engage our ideal client, managing multiple channels effectively can seem like a full time job.

This explains why the biggest group of marketing automation buyers are small and midsize businesses. So let’s take a look at this trend and marketing automation’s effectiveness for small business.

What is Marketing Automation?

As businesses realize they need get on board with web marketing strategies, they typically “bolt on” solutions. They open up a Twitter or Facebook account, dabble in LinkedIn groups or do an email shot using a free cloud-based email marketing solution.

Managing communication programs across multiple applications is a logistical nightmare; it lacks overview and the ability to measure its effectiveness.

Marketing automation enables businesses to execute campaigns, automate processes, and measure their impact.

How can you benefit from workflow-based lead management?

The most frequently requested feature of marketing automation solutions is lead management. Leads are the lifeblood of business, so it is easy to see why marketers consider lead generation their biggest challenge and most important goal. Marketing automation assists in a number of ways.

First, to attract on the web you need valuable and optimized content. The best marketing automation platforms let you create:

  • optimize site pages
  • calls to action and landing pages
  • (smart) forms

Other capabilities that play a role in lead management let you:

  • view which content your leads engage in and present leads with further content they will find relevant
  • score leads
  • do progressive profiling
  • set up event triggered email workflows

Besides these lead management capabilities, it should offer closed-loop analysis, search engine optimization tools, email marketing, and other tools to manage online multi-channel campaigns.

There’s no substitute for marketing planning

Whilst marketing automation can increase the effectiveness of lead generation and result in increased revenue, it is not a substitute for a customer-centric marketing strategy. Effective marketing plans start with a thorough understanding of your buyer personas and the buyer’s journey as they research and evaluate your products or services.

A look at the business case

Traditionally used by large e-commerce organizations, marketing automation has become more widely adopted and therefore more available, affordable, and practical for small business. Marketing automation combined with inbound strategies offers measureable benefits for small business:

  • lower cost per lead
  • improved customer lifetime value
  • increased revenue
  • improved sales effectiveness
  • better ROI on your marketing investment

What is important to recognize is that it is not a quick fix solution. If you start with a low-traffic base and want grow traffic organically, do not expect to see significant increases in traffic for 9 months (maybe somewhat shorter if you have ample resources to pump out good quality content).

On the other hand, if your site is already getting good traffic but you are not converting sufficient leads, you may see results much sooner by utilizing best practice conversion methods.

What to look for in a marketing automation platform

If you plan to research marketing automation solutions, look for things like:

  • What is included in the minimum license fee? Many providers will charge you based on the size of your contact database. Check how many contacts are included in the base rate. You really want a solution that is scalable but you might want to know whether charges are capped once you reach a certain number of contacts.
  • What is the minimum license period? Many require an initial12 months. Ask if the entire license fee is payable up front or whether they accept monthly installments.
  • Read real case studies of businesses like yours who have adopted marketing automation and see if you can get in touch directly with current users to hear their experiences first hand.
  • Is user training included? It is not unusual for training to be charged additionally. Check what training is included.

As mentioned before, there is no substitute for good marketing planning and strategy, but once you have your goals and roadmap set out, marketing automation can do some of the heavy lifting and provide you with the analytics to achieve sustainable lead campaign success.

Wendy Coombeswendy profile photo_150px copy is an inbound marketing consultant with a background in Technology and B2B marketing as well as e-Commerce.   Her inbound marketing agency, Brite Kite, is based in Sydney Australia. Wendy is passionate about helping traditional professional service providers such as lawyers and accountants, transition to online lead generation and realizing a better ROI on their marketing investment. Connect with Wendy on twitter via @wendycoombes.

 

3 Steps to Double Inbound Leads in 60 Days

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Erik Luhrs – Enjoy!

3 Steps to Double Inbound Leads in 60 Days

photo credit: shutterstock

I love talking to new prospects! They are ALWAYS convinced that they’ve already tried “everything.” They are convinced that the only way to get more leads is to increase the amount of people who see their messages. They are convinced that rapidly multiplying leads and sales is just a fantasy.

And they are always wrong.

Now you’re probably thinking “Oh BS, Erik! What could you possibly know that is so much better than all the other experts we’ve asked for help?

The short answer is that it’s not about what I know. It’s about what your prospects know…that you ignore! We’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let’s sum up the problem of “not enough leads.”

The cause of this situation is 3 factors:

  1. You blend in with your competition because you are a “me too” business (“Oh they sell widgets? Me too!”) .
  2. You define yourself / your business the same as your competition (“We are the #1 Widget producer in North America”…same thing everybody else says).
  3. You think quality/service/price/experience/caring about our clients/etc means something to the prospect (“With our 50 years of experience we have created a quality team that can deliver the service you need at a price you can afford. And remember we really care about our customers”…SNORE!!!)

What happens with all of this type of communication is that you are trying to be logical and trying to communicate with the conscious mind of your prospect.

The problem is that humans live their lives 99% SUBCONSCIOUSLY, so the subconscious is in control. The 1% of conscious awareness humans have is not in control, but that is the part of the mind EVERYBODY tries to talk to. It makes no sense!!!

So the simple secret to rapidly increasing leads is to start talking to the 99% of the mind that is in control!

How? Well, there is a lot to it, but here are 3 steps to get you moving in the right direction (and if you actually use them you will be ahead of 95% of your market).

  1. RE-POSITION: Instead of trying to solve every problem your audience has ask your target what their real, immediate problems are. Go deeper than “we need more sales,” “we need more staff,” “we need faster processors.” Find a single problem BEHIND their general problem, and solve that. Hint: When you can hear someone’s voice change or you see them start to look uncomfortable you will know you have touched one of their subconscious issues.
  2. RE-PRESENT: Once you have chosen that one deep, real problem that you will solve become the go to experts for that aspect of that problem. Basically, focus and stay focused.
  3. RE-PACKAGE: Connect your offerings to that one aspect of that one problem you now solve and describe what you do in that context in all of your messages.
  4. (bonus step) RE-DISTRIBUTE: Use every channel (online and offline) that you can access and spread the word of your new “Position” to the world. Own this new space!

Once you are talking to the subconscious mind of your target audience they will have no choice but to pay attention. More attention means more people looking at your messages, which means more responses, which means more leads.

Or you can just go back to doing and saying what everybody else does and says. The choice is yours.

Choose wisely!

 

Erik LuhrsErik Luhrs is known as The Bruce Lee of Sales and Lead Generation. He is the creator of The GURUS Selling System and Front-Loaded Lead Generation. He is the author of the book BE DO SALE and the ONLY expert in the world on Subconscious Lead Generation!

On April 30th Erik will be hosting the FREE webinar ‘3 Steps to get Prospects to Contact You Ready to Say YES!’ In the webinar Erik shows how to apply Subconscious Lead Generation tactics to your Lead Generation and Marketing messages to immediately double or triple open, read and conversion rates. To register go here now: http://bit.ly/JantschLuhrs

 

 

4 Realities of Inbound Marketing You Can’t Afford to Neglect

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Rohan Ayyar – Enjoy!

Inbound marketing and social media participation for brands are one of the most effective promotion tactics today. The whole world of marketing is now skewed towards “earning customers” instead of “buy, beg, or buy your way in” that outbound marketers follow, if this Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing infographic on Mashable is to be believed.

The fundamental shift in consumer behavior is certain now: individuals are in control of what information they choose to receive. Not only do they have options when it comes to brands while buying, but they can also choose who they want to hear from.

According to Mashable’s infographic, more than 84% of 25-34 year olds have abandoned their favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising. More than a whopping 86% of people skip television ads. At least 200 million Americans have registered for FTC’s “Do Not Call” list. Over 91% of email subscribers have unsubscribed from an email list they previously opted into.

Clearly, outbound marketing is having a hard time. On the other hand, inbound marketing works, but only when you go at it the right way.

Here are a few inbound marketing realities you can’t afford to neglect:

1. No one gives two hoots about your brand, product, service or whatever

This one’s hard. In fact, it’s the hardest truism about being in business today. Contrary to whatever you might think about your business, your prospective customers don’t really give a damn about you. It’s a hard pill to swallow. Does it mean all that passion, sweat, blood, and tears you put into running your business are for naught?

Customers aren’t overly concerned about you, and won’t be either, for as long as you beat your big corporate chest with your “campaigns,” you are just carrying out interruption marketing.

What the world does care about is solutions to problems. Your prospective customers are looking for solutions that can make their life better somehow, in some way. Whatever fits the bill – with respect to products and services – takes the cake.

2. Competition has no face

Once upon a time, all that a company would have to worry about – apart from producing goods and delivering services – was competition from similar companies selling similar products. Today, competition comes in new garbs everyday.

First, there’s the information overload that customers are slowly getting immune to (which means that they mastered the art of ignoring what you have to say). Second, the competition comes from smarter and leaner companies that have learnt the art of keeping customers engaged (with inbound marketing practices, of course).

If you’ve ever wondered why all that money being spent on campaigns never managed to bring in a dollar, it’s because of this competition overload. You just have a lot more to do today.

Are you ready to deal with it?

3. Marketing is the new way of giving

Capitalism was almost a result of selfishness. Ayn Rand was a staunch advocate of “self-worth” and “self-preservation.” She wrote whole tomes like Atlas Shrugged to get that point across. That was then.

Capitalism is still about making a profit. It’s just the way profits are made has changed with inbound marketing. This new line of marketing calls for “selflessness.” It calls for giving away more than you ask for. It calls for altruism, generosity, and spreading buckets of value through content, information dissemination, and relationship-building on social media.

Take whatever route you like, just make sure you give.

4. Inbound is harder than outbound

Most rookie entrepreneurs believe that since inbound marketing is relatively cheaper than traditional marketing, it ought to be easier. As they say, “Talk is cheap.” However, it’s easy to forget that work comes at a premium.

Inbound marketing is harder than traditional marketing. As a matter of fact, marketing is always hard as Drew Williams of HubSpot candidly explained. There are a whole lot of things to get used to. Businesses have to produce an unimaginable amount of content. There’s social media, there’s content (which itself stretches into blog posts, videos, podcasts, slide decks, infographics, curated content, and a whole lot more), which companies have to produce at an alarming rate.

Then there are multiple channels to tap into. Marketing itself is now a hodge-podge of tasks, departments and functions. Teams need to put their heart into all of these. They need to learn and use sophisticated tools for manifold tasks ranging from project collaboration to publishing, from web analytics to video conferencing. What’s more, they need to be effective at that, produce results and justify ROI.

How do you go about inbound marketing? What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in getting inbound leads? How do you convert these to sales? Do you have any new tactics or strategies to share?

Rohan Ayyar bio photoRohan works at E2M solutions, a premium digital marketing firm specializing in creative content strategy, web analytics and conversion rate optimization for startups. He is an avid blogger, with posts on Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today and Moz, among other places. Rohan hangs out round the clock on Twitter @searchrook – hit him up any time for a quick Q&A.

Involve Your Prospect In Their Story to Ignite Inbound Selling

Today is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Mike Hanski – Enjoy! 

wiifm

photo credit: flickr

In certain ways, inbound selling is a lot like inbound marketing.  At the very least, they have one very important concept in common – content is king.

The success of any inbound technique – letting potential leads come to you rather than go hunting for them – is quality content.  And the driving force behind quality content is the idea of letting the reader understand “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM).

Understanding WIIFM

Any business professional will tell you the most important concept of business writing is answering the question, “what’s in it for me?”

Prospects don’t care about how many products you sold last year, the size of your company, the awards you’ve received or anything else that is wholly unrelated to them.  All they care about is what they can get from the deal.

Fortunately, this idea plays right into the hands of inbound sales specialists.  Check out the ways you can use WIIFM writing to enhance the success of your inbound selling strategy.

Using WIIFM Writing to Create Problems

Last year, John wrote a post outlining the anatomy of inbound selling.  He mentioned the following:

“Inbound sales professionals build and sell problems that prospects don’t even know exist.”

If done properly, WIIFM writing creates problems and initiates questions.  You want your content to answer some of the questions the reader might have, but not all of them.  This draws attention to specific areas of need.

For example, you might write…

We can help with your search engine optimization, social media marketing, and other marketing techniques.

The reader would wonder…”what ‘other marketing techniques?’  Can you do my offline/print marketing too?

To get the answer to that question, the prospect will seek you out.  In the meantime, he might realize he does, in fact, need online marketing techniques in addition to the offline marketing he intended to implement.  You’ve created a problem he didn’t know he had.

WIIFM is All about Providing Education

In another post about the correlation between marketing and selling, John mentioned the following:

“Today’s salesperson must be ready to teach, publish and demonstrate expertise.  Every sales person should answer questions via blog posts, engage in social media conversations, and conduct online and offline seminars.”

Again, this idea plays right into the hands of WIIFM business writing.  The best education tactics are centered on how the reader will benefit.

Do you need some ideas for educational blog posts with WIIFM principles?  Try writing about…

  • Industry secrets.  Is there some insider information you can provide?  Are there questions people are dying to know the answer to?  Give away the recipe to the secret sauce and prospects will love you forever.
  • Controversial topics.  Is there something taboo about your industry?  Are there things no one wants to talk about?  Expose those issues.  Educate prospects about topics they didn’t even know they needed to know.
  • Other areas of expertise.  Demonstrations and tutorials are golden.  Teach something and prospects will be hooked.  Consider making a video of your efforts.

Social media is another arena that offers prime learning opportunities.  When you think about providing educational information with your social media account, remember…WIIFM.

That means, less self-promotion and more client-centered content.  A general rule of thumb for any social media marketing effort is 80/20 – 80% of your content should be links and shares of other people’s content and only 20% should be about you and your brand.  If you are going for a true WIIFM approach with the goal of inbound selling, you might want to change the ratio to something even more drastic – maybe 90/10.

Just focus on providing genuinely helpful content.  Link to other leaders in your industry.  Share significant news pieces.  Be helpful.

Writing Stories about Them

Another concept of inbound selling is the idea of switching from lead nurturing to storybuilding.

“Salespeople must be able to relate the organization’s core stories to the world of their customer and they must help the customer build a new story that stars them in the leading role.”

This strategy is the one most likely to cause a WIIFM stumbling block.  While creating the organization’s stories, it can be easy to slip from them-oriented tales to us-oriented success stories.  When you write, remember to make sure your stories are problem creating (them) rather than problem solving (us).

Other WIIFM Web Content

The driving concept behind inbound selling is letting the prospect come to you.  Therefore, you need to make that task as easy as possible.  Again, think about them and what they need to reach you.

  • Make your “Contact Us” page easy to find.  Clearly link to it from the homepage – and each internal page.
  • Provide as much information as possible on your “Contact Us” page – physical address, email addresses, phone number, fax number, GPS coordinates…everything.  You can’t possibly go overboard here.
  • When applicable, give specific contact information.  Do you have different departments to handle different issues?  List all those out with the appropriate contact person and information.  Try to avoid the ambiguous “[email protected]” email address.
  • List basic information – like your phone number and email address – on each page of your website.  Don’t make visitors go to your “Contact Us” page if they don’t want to.
  • Share customer testimonials.  Let other people be your sales rep.  They might connect with the reader in a way you can’t.

When it comes to inbound selling, your website is one of your most powerful tools.  Be sure to keep the content focused on the reader.  Tell them exactly what’s in it for them.  Write with your prospect’s interest at heart and you can’t lose.

 

Mike HanskiArticle by Mike Hanski – content strategist and a blog writer at Bid4papers.com. When not writing about education technology and business, he enjoys American literature and traveling in far countries.  Learn more about Mike at Google+.

Hummingbird and Hashtags: Keeping Your Google Plus Content Strategy Alive

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Lauren Hogan – Enjoy!

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Photo credit: misspixels

With Google’s recent Hummingbird update, anyone who does online marketing was forced to review & revamp their marketing strategy. The Hummingbird update specifically impacts the social media marketing realm by increasing SEO dependence on Google Plus hashtags. Whereas, previously, it was used to track post content now, using hashtags with your Google Plus posts helps optimize your content to display in search.

Here’s why this update matters: Google Plus is the second largest social platform with just over 50% of the global internet user market and boasts roughly 1,203 million users per month (visits to Gmail are counted). These are astounding numbers not to be overlooked. Do not exclude the use of hashtags if part of your content strategy includes Google Plus. Here are 5 ideas of how to use hashtags in your content strategy:

1)  Basic Use

This is simple. If you are posting content to your business Google Plus account, throw in a few hashtags to help support the reach of your post. Find a happy medium between the standard hashtag use on Twitter and Instagram. 2-4 hashtags per post is a realistic goal.

2)  Optimization

You have a blog. You have an SEO strategy. You have a Google Plus account. Now let’s connect the dots. It can never hurt to optimize your post for organic search & use those optimized words as hashtags.

3)  Photo Content

The most popular activity on Google Plus is photo sharing. Utilize hashtags when you post to provide equal opportunity for your post to be viewed.

4)  Networking

Communities are a great way to reach a targeted audience and invite an opportunity for more sharing, +1’s and discussion. When you post content to a community make sure to include hashtags to encourage and track conversation around the topic of choice.

5)  Conversation

Just as you would on Twitter, use hashtags that relate to your business and your goals. This includes choices such as #tech or #socialmedia. However, unlike Twitter you can use specific hashtags such as #techtips or #socialmediamarketing. You can even attach on to a couple hashtags that already spark weekly conversation. Examples include #MondayMotivation and #FridayFun.

headshot squareLauren Hogan is the Social Media Coordinator at HomeAdvisor which offers homeowners tools including Cost Guide, a resource to help budget your next home improvement project and DesignMine, a site to help collect, organize and bring to life home project ideas. She enjoys trail running in the summer and spending time on the slopes in the winter. Connect on Twitter