I had the privilege of meeting for the first time the other day with a young person just launching their career as a Financial Advisor. I enjoy mentoring and admire people just getting started in their own business. It's a very difficult thing to do. Some people are very intimidated by it. Our topic of conversation led to discussing how to market oneself. Personal branding and developing an online presence is important to establish early. Businesses selling an intangible product or service and engaged in “intangible marketing” can find it challenging.
Everyone would agree that building a thriving small business does take time. Typically, it includes using lots of traditional marketing such as networking and advertising. You end up with sleepless nights wondering where your next lead will come from. A great way to start adding more clients is to add inbound marketing to your marketing tool chest.
Inbound marketing is a form of content marketing. It draws a potential client to your website by providing the information and education that they are looking for, instead of you actively going out to them to try and sell them what you are offering.
For example, look at a sporting goods store that has two potential customers standing outside the door. Store owners can draw customers in the store two ways:
1. Push people in the door saying "look how great our golf clubs are!"
2. Put a sign in the window saying "We'll teach you how to pick the best golf clubs suited for you.”
Which one do you think will have a better chance of making a sale?
Here’s a hint... people do not like to be pushed.
Inbound marketing is not traditional marketing. It is not cold calling, networking, advertising, radio shows, client dinners or direct mail. The main tactic used in inbound marketing is creating content that is used to educate and build trust with your customer. Vehicles to reach folks are blog posts, videos, eBooks, guest posting and social media. The goal is they end up on your website and take some sort of action because of the information that you have provided.
How do you ensure that your potential clients engage with your marketing?
This can be the hardest part of marketing and it is by far the most important part. Even if you get every other part of marketing right, if you are talking to the wrong market then you will not get any clients from inbound marketing.
Take the time to understand what type of clients you want to work with. Then research their demographics, psychographics and exactly what types of information they are looking for. This will enable you to create content that is specific to them and their needs, plus it will help you narrow down where you should be implementing your marketing plan.
Take an example that applies to my mantra, financial services. Say we are targeting professionals that are getting ready to retire. We would be wasting our time if we created marketing for Twitter that focused on the power of compounding over the long run. We are better off writing an article on how to access your RRSP during retirement and then using LinkedIn to get our prospective client to read the information.
Once you have the attention of the right prospective client, then you need to ensure that they are taking your call to action.
You Must Convert
The entire goal of marketing, both inbound and outbound, is to get the prospective client to take an action. This can be anything like signing up for your newsletter, scheduling a phone consultation or registering for a webinar. Taking an action will put them into your marketing channel that will allow them to learn more, get to know you better and hopefully become a client. Without a call to action, you are simply creating content that you hope someone will like enough to figure out what the next step is. Don't let them guess this. Tell them at the end of every piece of content what their next action should be.
Things to Keep in Mind
It's not a substitute for all other forms of marketing. Inbound marketing is simply one more tool to attract the right client to you. In fact both types of marketing work better when you use both together. For example, someone attends a client dinner and signs up for your newsletter. After six months of reading your newsletter and learning more about you, they call to sign up for your services. It took both the traditional marketing and the inbound marketing to nurture the client to a point where he or she was ready to work with you.
It will take time. It is not an approach that will work in the first week. There is a lot of competition in the online space so it will take patience and persistence to make it work. On the bright side, the longer you do inbound marketing, the better your results are and your content begins to build links and shares which will assist with search engine optimization.
When most people are looking for information, they usually start online. Inbound marketing is a great way to attract clients that are interested in what you are offering, because you are providing them the information they are already looking for. This can cut down on the time you need to grow your business. But again, it does take time. Be patiently persistent. That’s how I like to label it. Its just another way of Keeping Life Current.