Inbound marketing is rapidly gaining popularity as a relatively inexpensive means to improve lead conversion rates and increase sales. Faced with marketing budget decisions for next year, many business owners wonder whether or not to completely replace traditional brand marketing methods with blogs, social media and search engine optimization. In many cases it makes sense to blend inbound and outbound marketing, when the strengths of one support the weaknesses of the other. Here are some examples.
Let’s say you’ve recently committed to an inbound marketing campaign with the business goal of improving web traffic by 200% and sales by 20%. You’re focusing your campaign on several counties, some of which are suburban, while others are more rural. The question is how will local residents find your blog and social media presence in the first place? Currently, if people search for local businesses in your market, your site isn’t listed. That’s one of the objectives of the inbound marketing campaign. How do you get them to follow you on Twitter and Facebook if they can’t find your site? Try some good old-fashioned brand marketing. Place some attractive billboards around the counties at key intersections announcing a promotional offer and direct people to a well-designed landing page to capture leads and announce your blogs and social networking venues. Try a short radio spot with the same pitch. E-mail your announcement to your current contact list and let them know about your new site, blog and community spirit.
Advertising is still one of the best ways to get peoples’ attention. Over time consumers grow weary of the same old intrusive ads blanketing the media, but for a quick impact to draw attention to a new product or service, there’s nothing like it. Get the buzz started with some clever “coming soon” ads to whet viewers’ appetites. If possible, target a special date that doesn’t conflict with some other popular event. Give people sneak previews via your web site, blog and social media – but don’t forget to capture your leads via landing pages! When the roll-out date arrives, throw a party of some kind, online or at a public place. Offer special promotions and prizes. Get them enrolled in your community sites and signed up for your RSS feeds. Reel in as many leads as possible and make sure they become loyal followers through your follow-up inbound marketing campaign.
Start by getting involved with local or national community outreach programs or charities. Offer your marketing (or other) expertise as a way of helping them reach their goals. Become a thought leader. Give free talks and webinars where you cite your own company’s efforts to get found online and capture leads. The main benefit will be helping struggling businesses and charities in your area, but you will also meet business leaders and potential clients. Word of mouth is still (and will always be) the most successful form of marketing. As you meet people and get the word out, don’t forget to invite them to join your online conversations via blogs and social media. You will start to build a strong following that trusts your judgment and is far more likely to do business with you.
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