Inbound Marketing – Better Quality and Efficiency for the Black Box

On Tuesday we spoke about data and how it improves the “quality” part of the salesperson’s black box.  Today we will speak about inbound marketing and how it affects both the “quality” and “efficiency” parts of the black box.  Before we jump in, let’s cover what inbound marketing is.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing, a term coined by HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan in 2006, has gained popularity recently, with companies focusing more and more of their marketing budget on inbound marketing.  Inbound marketing is a strategy that uses pull marketing to have the prospect initiate contact with your company, as opposed to outbound marketing, in which the company pushes by initiating the conversation, sending out its message to audiences.  Inbound marketing tactics typically include interesting content, whether it be blog posts, social media, events, etc., to instill interest in the prospect, causing them to reach out and contact your company.  Inbound marketing also takes advantage of search engine optimization to gain more visibility through organic searches.

How Inbound Marketing Affects Quality and Efficiency

Inbound marketing is a strong driver of efficiency in the black box.  It drives efficiency in two ways:

1.)It sets them up for the right hook! The title of Gary Vaynerchuck’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,tells the entire story.  Patiently engaging with customers to build relationships through good content, social media, and SEO, are the “jabs.”  Each jab builds a positive relationship with your brand.  After enough jabs, the prospect is ready for your right hook.  This is the next sale, campaign, or outbound contact that will “knock them out” and convert them to a client.  Inbound marketing ensures that only prospects interested in your solution are being jabbed, and that they are softened up, so when your right hook comes, they can’t resist it.

An example of how this would play out is this.  If your company were selling air conditioners, you would have interesting, applicable content to prospects who are interested in AC.  Prospects who are considering purchasing an air conditioner would search for information about AC units and find your company.  They would read the articles, check out social media (they would read your stuff because you used SEO to get to the top of the search rankings), and, in the process of increasing their knowledge, gain trust in your company.  You, with your inbound marketing set-up fleshed-out, would track their movements across your website, or track how they interact with your emails, and reach out to them after they have interacted with your jabs enough.  You could be confident that these prospects are already interested in a solution like the one you’re selling, reducing the amount of wasted cycles, and their conversion rate would be higher than typical outbound.

2.) Inbound marketing works by having the prospect contact you. Inbound marketing’s powerful tools create interest in your solution and build trust between your company and the prospect.  Prospects who simply don’t have a problem you can solve, or are uninterested in your solution, will not contact you.  Those who do have a problem that your company can solve will become interested in your company and your solution thanks to the great content and trust your inbound marketing created.

For example, imagine that you are selling snow blowers.  If you were running a strong inbound strategy, you would have interesting, applicable content on your website – articles on how to care for your snow blower, the most efficient way to run your snow blower, etc.  Now, prospects who are not interested in snow blowers – a lot of people – would not even click on your site, let alone read one of your articles.  Perhaps these prospects are living in Hawaii, or some other tropical climate; or perhaps they are in a city apartment building, and they just don’t need your product.  It would be a waste of time and money to try and contact them.  People who did have a snow problem, and did fit the requirements for someone who would purchase a snow blower, would be drawn to your content and begin the trust-building process.  After a certain threshold, they may be ready to purchase a snow blower, and, thanks to your informative articles and the trust they have in your company, they would buy that snow blower from your company.  All of this would happen without you directly contacting them.

The Downsides to Inbound Marketing

The downside to this is that good inbound marketing takes time.  It takes time to create interesting, relevant content, to set-up events, and to optimize for SEO.  It also takes time to reap the benefits; a prospect that could have been closed in an outbound call would take time to go through your content and soften up, or reach out and contact you.  Lastly, tracking ROI can be difficult without the implementation of web analytics to determine how effective an inbound campaign is.

In Conclusion

Inbound marketing can be a very powerful driver for black box quality and efficiency.  It is a way to offer better inputs for the black box, leading to more efficiency.  Prospects that have been properly brought in through inbound marketing will convert at a higher rate, or may even convert without any effort on the salesperson’s part.

Putting together a good inbound marketing strategy takes time and effort, but once it is set, it is a powerful tool for the black box.

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