For many B2B marketers – especially those with industrial or technical products - inbound marketing doesn’t seem to pertain to them. They think “That’s a consumer marketing thing, right?”
Although it runs counter to your B2B marketing instincts which scream for a more direct attack on your customers – and believe me, if you ask your customers, they do sometimes feel attacked by your marketing and sales activities – inbound marketing can be successful precisely because it is more subtle, more indirect, and less obtrusive.
So what is inbound marketing? It’s essentially projecting your brand out to potential customers through Search Engine Marketing, Content Marketing, and Social Media Marketing. It’s targeting the right prospects with your messaging often at the exact time when they need to see your message. It’s giving them helpful information that they need without asking for anything in return. It’s building a relationship with your prospects so that when they need a product like yours, they already have a favorable impression of you.
Search Engine Marketing begins with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). By ensuring that your website is built with the thought of augmenting your search engine ranking you will get more “organic leads” from customers that are searching for your exact product in Google, Bing, etc. However…and here’s where those aggressive marketing instincts come in…you can use Google Ad Words and the like to serve up ads to those who are looking for products like yours on search engines. Or you can serve up ads to targeted prospects even when they aren’t searching for your product using services like Google’s Custom Affinity Audiences.
Content Marketing is the publishing of blog postings, articles, white papers, etc. which establish you as an expert in your respective field. Generally this content is not designed to “blow your own horn” or push your products and services but to provide value and expertise to your prospects which will then be a positive reflection on your brand.
Social Media Marketing utilizes services like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, etc. to engage with your prospects. First your company and employees have to establish a presence on social media. Then you can begin engaging with your prospects using the content you’ve developed on your blogs, etc. as part of your Content Marketing efforts. Or you could be sharing interesting articles from the trade media. But you can also serve up ads to targeted prospects on LinkedIn, for example, using their General Targeting, Account Targeting or Contact Targeting services.
Interestingly, a lot of the Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing that you do can help you achieve your Search Engine Marketing goals so they are in many ways self-reinforcing marketing tactics.
Inbound marketing may run counter to your aggressive instincts but it is really just an alternative path to the same goal – increasing sales. What matters most is how your prospects would like to be engaged with you. Increasingly the answer is via Inbound Marketing techniques.