No one appreciates being “marketed to” anymore. We as consumers have learned to filter / dodge / side-step / ignore the millions of annoying marketing attempts vying for our attention. Despite knowing that outbound marketing pisses people off, businesses continue to throw money into the black hole and hoping that it brings them business. Mind-boggling, I know.
Let’s be completely honest, outbound marketing tactics (T.V., radio, print ads, etc.) are almost a complete waste of time and money (in my humble opinion) unless you can afford a slot during the Superbowl – and even that doesn’t provide measurable results. I’ll save my rant on “measurable marketing” tactics for another post.
Good buying decisions start and end with good research. With 97% of people starting their search online for desired products / services — 97% !!! — you either invest your marketing budget into online, or I guarantee your competition will. However, just because you’re “online” certainly doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. In fact, most are doing it wrong. Just like in the real world, you can’t just open up shop and expect people to know about your business … this is what we like to call “field of dreams marketing” (i.e. if you build it, they will come) … don’t do that people. Treat your website like a brochure, and I will treat it like any other brochure I get these days – straight to the trash can.
So, how can you avoid this? The answer comes in one simple word … engagement! You need to engage and educate prospects, not market to them. According to HubSpot, companies that blog generate 55% more visitors, 97% more inbound links, and 434% more indexed pages than companies that don’t blog. I have been reading a remarkable book called UnMarketing, by Scott Stratten, and he writes phenomenally on this subject:
- Your website – Brochure versus Hub? Your website should be the hub of your business – the place where people can go to learn about you and to learn content. Give away some knowledge. People fear that if they give it away, people won’t need to hire or buy from them. If everything you know about your industry can be explained in a few articles, you don’t know much. It’s not just knowledge that people buy from you, it’s the application of the knowledge for their specific situation. This is why blog driven sites come in handy. The nature of a blog is the sharing of knowledge unconditionally.
- Pitch versus Authenticity Newsletters: I see people doing this all the time. I sign up for their “newsletter” and all I get are pitches for products. I want to learn from you, that’s why I signed up. It’s not about the list size, open rates, or click-through’s if all you’re going to do is pitch them. It’s about engagement. It’s about when I see your newsletter in my inbox, among 400 other things in the morning, I say to myself “I HAVE to read this, it’s always great!” How many newsletters can you say that about? Are people saying that about yours?
- Our Site versus Your Site: Yes, it’s your company website, but it doesn’t mean that everything has to be about you. Your “About Us” page, knock yourself out with the self-congratulatory speak. But I don’t care about you until I know you understand and care about me.
Engaging your prospects and customers means offering them value that others aren’t. Or offering value in a unique way. We can break the word “value” down on the internet to one simple word as well … content ! Relevant, compelling, frequent content is critical to creating an engaging online inbound marketing strategy. If you’re not a writer, hire one! Don’t waste your marketing dollars on another TV or radio ad, hire yourself a good writer and develop content about your business / industry / products / services. And most importantly, don’t write about yourself. Write about your prospects and customers and how you are going to help them.