'Traditional' marketing relies on a model that is fundamentally ‘interruptive’ – trying to get the attention of potential prospects through campaigns whether they want it or not, that are about ‘sending’ your message one way - outbound!. In selling terms, the seller generally held the 'power' in the ’buyer-seller relationship’ in the form of information about the product or service, how it is packaged and transmitted, where and when it is received. The buyer 'gets what he's given', by and large.
The internet has changed all that. The ability of the buyer to use search engines to educate and inform means that now, up to 60% to 70% of the 'buying cycle' - not the 'selling cycle' - is complete before buyers even pick up the phone to talk products, prices, availability or service. They research their ‘problem'; they assess and quantify it, and work out what to do and think for themselves, not because some salesman tells them what to do or think.
For the modern marketer, that shift presents a challenge to the traditional approach, but the time when the potential buyer is in research mode actually provides a great opportunity to to differentiate yourself such that when they do move into buying mode, your’s is one of the names they will call by using the time to build your brand and positioning as an authority in your field. '
Inbound marketing relies on having strong content that your potential buyers want to find. In its turn, that relies on knowing who they are, why they buy and allowing them to find what they need when they need it. It’s fundamentally a different approach, and often needs a complete rethink not just of your website strategy, but of the whole approach you take to marketing through the internet, to attract, convert and close customers through offering them valuable content when they want it, not when you want to send it. Educate and Inform' are the watchwords of the Inbound approach..
Taking your sales process inbound means changing the way you sell, from prospecting the right accounts, to understanding your audience and building rapport with it, and becoming more of an educator in the way you sell that respects the buyer’s position of power. It means treating your website as a bit more than a glorified brochure, and it means knowing who they are and nurturing them through their research process.
Inbound doesn’t suit everyone. It takes more marketing effort, and if you are a reseller or distributor, or if your product sells on price for a relatively low transaction value and the buying cycle is short, then it may not be an investment that generates an adequate return.
But if you are an original equipment manufacturer, if you sell direct and your product has a significant price ticket that means that your customers consider their purchase over time, or if you are doing something that is new or innovative, and needs understanding before customers will buy, it’s a different story.
Marketing takes more effort in these circumstances anyway, and you are much more likely to consider Cost of Customer Acquisition (COCA) and Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) as important. And you will probably be looking for the internet to play a part in your strategy to improve the relationship between the two.
Sound interesting? Give us a call to talk it through further. When you do, you might find our Inbound Marketing Evaluation Checklist quite useful in shaping up whether an Inbound Strategy might be right for you.