When was the last time you had to sit through a block of television commercials, instead of whizzing by them on your DVR? Or the last time you searched the classified ads in the local print newspaper? Many of us probably haven’t done either of those things in years.
Commercials, newspaper ads, and direct mail—these traditional advertising methods still exist. But it’s clear that advertising and marketing are evolving.
It’s clear that advertising and marketing are evolving.
Inbound marketing is the new way to market your products or services to potential clients. You’re probably doing some form of inbound marketing, whether you realize it or not. So why not maximize your efforts?
What is Inbound Marketing?
The core of inbound marketing is attraction. It’s all about attracting customers to you and your business.
Rather than pushing out your messages and sales pitches to the masses, you strategically develop content meant to draw customers to you like a magnet. While traditional marketing can be intrusive (think pop-up ads, telemarketing calls, or spam emails), inbound marketing is centered on your customers.
What Are the Phases of Inbound Marketing?
The phases of inbound marketing are: Attract, convert, close, and delight.
Let’s look at an example of the phases of inbound marketing:
- Attract: Becky sees a Facebook post from the local grocery store about a customer who trimmed $600 a year from her grocery expenses because she makes fewer impulse purchases using online grocery shopping and pickup.
- Convert: Becky clicks through, reads the story, and responds to a call-to-action by submitting her email address in exchange for coupons.
- Close: When Becky hasn’t redeemed her coupons, she receives a reminder email from the grocery store, encouraging her to place her first order, which she does.
- Delight: When Becky picks up her first order, a grocery store employee presents her with a gift bag for new customers. After her visit, the grocery store sends Becky a satisfaction survey and more coupons.
How Do I Attract Clients Using Inbound Marketing?
Put simply, you create awesome content. But not just any top-notch content. You create the best content for your potential clients. Here’s a four-pronged approach to leveraging customer attraction in your content:
Who is your audience? It’s your potential clients.
Are they mostly small business owners, bloggers, or marketing directors? If you serve clients in a niche, you should be able to drill this down a few levels. Maybe your clients are female entrepreneurs who offer website design services to bloggers.
What business problems do your clients face? If you have existing clients, reach out. Send them a brief survey, or simply an email with the question, “What is your biggest challenge in running your business right now?”
Check out online trade or association publications and blogs in your client’s field. What are common challenges?
How do your clients’ problems intersect with your solutions? How can your services or products relieve pressure on a pinch point?
For example, say your potential client is a nonprofit pet-rescue organization struggling with decreased giving.
Brainstorm possible solutions based on your expertise and services. You might help with grant writing efforts focused on their facilities or equipment, or by writing shareable success stories about rescue animals, or by writing blog posts featuring donors.
But hold on! Don’t send an email blast about your services to all pet-rescue organizations within a 500-mile radius.
How can you provide value (for free) to potential clients? Remember, the point of inbound marketing is to bring clients to you by providing awesome, helpful content.
Your next step is to plan that valuable content. For example, you might offer newsletter subscribers a free e-book on social media engagement for nonprofits.
Or you might post a blog series on grant writing. Of course, you’ll also promote your awesome content. But the good news is: Your ideal clients are more likely to engage with your content—and with you—because you’ve created it with them in mind.
Isn’t This a Lot of Extra Work?
You might be thinking this sounds like a lot of work. It’s true. Attracting clients to your business will take time, research, thought, and analysis.
Is it worth it? Try taking this perspective: Attracting clients with tailored, problem-solving content isn’t another task on your to-do list; it’s a long-term strategy.