Some of you might be in the same boat. The power has been out at my house since Monday at 7:15PM. Since I've had time to sit in a quiet, dark room, I have been contemplating one of my favorite topics: inbound marketing.
Here is what I learned in my enlightened state.
Be prepared – Everyone laughed when I bought my stash of batteries, water, transistor radios, candles, and flashlights. Then the power went out and I was able to spring into action. The same holds true for inbound marketing. You have to have a plan. It’s critical. Without a plan, you're going to waste a lot of time, money and effort trying things that don’t help you get found, get leads and drive sales.
I know most of you think planning your marketing ahead of time isn’t necessary but it really is a requirement. You have to know what to blog about, what your keywords are, what changes are needed on your website, what content your prospects want to read, how to use videos, how to integrate social media into your efforts … the list goes on. Successful marketing isn't magic. It's a complicated effort and it takes good planning to make it come together and generate leads for your business.
Be patient – We can’t force the electric company to come to our development and fix our power. We have to wait for them to get around to it in whatever order they think is appropriate. The same holds true with inbound marketing. This isn’t a $1 million Super Bowl ad, so we have to be patient and let the inbound marketing program build momentum over time. Driving increased traffic to your website, improving conversions, nurturing leads and sharing educational content takes time. It creates very loyal, pre-sold prospects, but it does take time.
Be fast – Once the power goes out, you have to react. You have to grab candles, flashlights and food that might spoil. Inbound marketing gives you the opportunity to react to events like weather, holidays, elections and news stories in real time. It allows you to use these events to create content that can be shared in your blog, through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites. This responsive agility gives you the opportunity to “get into” the conversation and use it to drive leads for your business.
Be friendly – I have met more neighbors and chatted up more people in line at Lowes than ever before. This is how I get information. The bar that’s open. The restaurant that has power! They neighbor having a party! This information is valuable and it's not available to the recluse.
You need to be friendly with inbound marketing too. You need to educate your target prospects. You need to offer them help, guidance and assistance through your content, your website, your social media and (most importantly) through your sales process. If you don’t take this approach, you are going to push them right to your competitors.
Be flexible – Your first plan might not work out. My car was stuck in the garage when the power went out. I had trouble getting the door open. Plan A didn’t work, plan B didn’t work, but plan C finally freed my car. Best laid inbound marketing plans don’t always roll out as expected. That’s why you need to be constantly tweaking, adjusting, testing and evaluating your results. The data from inbound marketing provides all the insight you need to be continuously improving your marketing in real-time. There has never been an opportunity to do that in the history of marketing. Make sure you are taking advantage of it.
If you practice the above approach, your chances of successfully weathering a power outage and your chances of creating a lead generating inbound marketing program are going to improve significantly.
Start Today Tip – If you don’t have an inbound marketing program up and running, then it's a little like you aren’t prepared for the next power outage. Take the first step and get an understanding of inbound marketing, how it works and how businesses like yours are using it to help them get found, get leads and close sales.
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