1. WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING?
Some companies have embraced digital, some haven’t…but inbound is changing how people employ your business, regardless of the medium they use.
It’s no longer about customers being sought out by a company, but about them seeking a solution to their own problems.
A lot of companies may pooh-pooh the idea, because “We’re a very relationship-driven business.” But in reality, every business is relationship-driven.
“[Inbound] is not to replace those relationships at all…it’s really to enhance [them].
…It’s taking those relationships you’ve developed, the way that companies have gone to market in the past, and it’s not really changing the structure of it, so much; it’s just changing the medium and the way it’s communicated and delivered.”
2. HOW DID IT DEVELOP?
A lot of people blame the uprising of digital on younger generations entering the B2B world…but in reality, younger generations have constantly been entering the B2B world. It’s the tools and resources at their disposal that have changed.
“Just naturally, it’s going to be a younger crowd. I think it probably was all the time, it’s just that before we had the digital piece, we couldn’t figure out who those people were.”
Now that digital resources have shifted, so have buying habits.
“Nearly fifty percent of B2B buyers are millennials…the way that they buy is dramatically different than the way things used to be purchased twenty, thirty years ago.”
The question is…are you shifting with those buying habits? Just look at what happened when Netflix pivoted, but Blockbuster did not. Blockbuster’s net worth never reached $9 Billion…but Netflix has already exceeded $60 Billion – and just recently it was (briefly) worth more than Disney itself!
“The majority of B2B buyers today…the first touch is through your website, or some digital property.”
3. ADJUSTING TO EDUCATE BUYERS
“Just think of whenever you buy something…whether it’s a B2B or a B2C purchase, what do you do? You go to the Yellow Pages, naturally…” [laughs]
By the time buyers reach out, they’ve probably already made their decision by educating themselves online.
Adapting to an inbound model means providing more educational content online about your product and service, which they can access before contacting you.
“Even with big purchases, I want to be as educated as much as I can before I seek out the actual folks to get the real details.”
Webinars are a valuable tool for educational leads like that; and they’re a resource that large B2B industrial companies like Chart especially favor.
Video resources are a great way to explain fairly expensive, highly-technical products.
Best of all, the buyer also learns a little bit about your company and culture just through the nature of how the videos look – especially if your subject matter expert is the person hosting the webinar.
Beyond just having the videos, it’s also important to know your audience.
“An engineer might be more interested in the specs on the product. Everybody else in that company is interested in the ROI. ‘Why are we spending money on this product? What are we getting out of it?’ ”
What a CEO wants will differ from a CFO’s desires, and neither may have the same priorities or interests as their engineer who will be using the product.
“When you’re marketing to a CFO, don’t care about the product; care about the payback.”
Best of all if you’re a billion-dollar company, you don’t have to reinvent your process.
Just take what you’ve already been doing successfully, and digitize it.
“If you want a quick win, go out and interview the sales team and understand how they [handle and rank] leads, and totally just copy it.”
4. WHERE DOES CONTENT FIT INTO THIS?
Once your inbound process set up digitally, it can run 24/7 and provide educational information to engineers working late nights and researching solutions.
“Inbound is a digital method to allow people to raise their hand, instead of you seeking them out and asking if they want your product.”
The more of a prospect’s questions you can answer with blog posts and webinars, the more satisfied they will be.
Now the word ‘content’ is sometimes intimidating…but it’s easier to create than you might think.
If you record just one presentation by your subject matter expert, you can get a blog post and a video and a podcast and still images right there. That’s a minimum of four resources from one shoot! And if you get an email from a customer about what meant a lot to them, that’s more content you can generate for your website. And that’s a key part of the inbound method.
Content is the source and medium and main tool of inbound marketing
“People don’t want to just see the specs on products; they want the story behind it. They want to know what it’s going to do for them – which they’ve always wanted; they’re just asking for it digitally…well, the content is that.”
Without the content, there’s nowhere to land after someone reaches your website.
And the right format is important, too. Reusing content is kind of nice for marketers who don’t have to generate something severely original every day or two…but also, you’ll reach more people because of how they ingest information.
“If I go and sign up for a webinar, I get the replay, and I hope to God they have a Cliff-Notes version that I can read through in about four minutes.”
“[People have] different ways they like to consume their content. That’s why video podcasts, audio podcasts, blogs…[when you ask] which is the best? The answer is ‘yes’.”
5. ADVICE FOR NEWCOMERS INTO INBOUND
Regardless of digital, you need to understand your business and your customers first.
“You need to know what you’re selling and why you’re selling it – and why you’re selling it isn’t to get revenue; it’s why the customer is buying it.”
Once you do get to the digital side of things, remember to transition into it; don’t just jump in while dropping your traditionally-successful methods cold-turkey. Even if you’re just starting by consulting outsiders, hiring an agency, or asking your customers how it’s been for them, that works.
You need to know ahead of time what you want to get out of digital, so that you know how to measure it; and you also need to know how to represent the ROI to the higher-ups so that they actually can see value from it. But most of all?
You need to know how customers are finding you. Because your main source of leads is probably not the Yellow Pages anymore.
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