In marketing, practitioners are tasked with taking a company’s message (usually in the form of a product) and putting it in front of the right people (their defined target market) in the right place (where they may be more likely to buy), at the right time (when they are ready to buy) so the target prospect has the best chance to become a lead which grows up to be a paying customer.
That’s how it has been done for quite some time. It’s marketing’s equivalent of a fishing expedition done without the aid of radar. In other words, you go where you think the fish are, drop your line or nets and hope for the best. Often you come up empty but sometimes you catch a few. Do this enough times and you might make a living. Might.
Why do we settle for this process? First, is because that’s the way it has always been done. Of course, that is a really bad answer. Since the days of “Ogilvy on Advertising” it’s been about getting the message in front of people.
Here’s the trouble. People don’t act like they used to. While David Ogilvy was considered the grandfather of the modern advertising world his form of the modern world was nothing like it is today.
His techniques and ideas were predicated on a dumb consumer. One that needed to be led around by the nose and told where to go to meet their perceived needs. The consumer of old didn’t have many options to find out information about products and services. There were so few outlets to get information and they were all controlled by, you guessed it, the marketer that they stood little chance of finding something that may have actually solved a problem but instead settled for the solution they were presented.
To be blunt, those days are over. The Internet has blown the doors off the old model. Even online models that were held in high regard a few short years ago are quickly falling by the wayside. Why? Because consumers, whether they are consuming personally or for a business, are much more intelligent. They are armed with information and they hate being sold. They demand respect.
So what solves the marketers’ need to connect with the modern consumer? An inbound marketing approach predicated on respect of the consumer. Here’s a few quick points to show how inbound marketing can get that respect needed to earn business in today’s marketplace.
Inbound marketers credit the consumer with having a brain – By marketing to the actual individual needs of a customer or prospective customer there is much greater chance of building a relationship. Ever heard the old adage of “People buy from people not companies”? That’s never been more true than today. Inbound marketers get that their prospects are people just like them and they have their own ways of coming to decisions. As a result, they meet the consumer on their turf which evens the playing field and helps the consumer to make decisions based on the right criteria: theirs.
Inbound marketers understand the sales process – While obtaining a well qualified lead at the top of a sales funnel is a good start it truly is nothing more than that. Many well-qualified leads are left to rot on the vine by marketers who don’t understand that sales are made in the middle of the sales funnel not at the top. By understanding what is needed to nurture a qualified prospect through your sales process (or more importantly through their buying process) inbound marketers gain a distinct advantage over their competition simply by taking the time to help someone make a decision rather than manipulating them to. If you have to sell too hard it’s likely to end up being bad business.
Inbound marketers are patient – We are all under pressure to perform and in a tough economy the pressures for performance can be intense. That’s why inbound marketers win by being patient. That’s not to say that you can sit around forever to wait for someone to actually buy from you. Rather you learn to put as many people in your sales process as possible at any given time thus letting the law of large numbers take place. Modern marketers call this creating community and it is an essential step of the inbound marketing success plan. People don’t like to be pushed. They buy when they are ready. Communities allow for marketers to be patient because you always have larger groups of people at the various stage in that middle of the funnel process thus allowing for a more consistent close rate.
Inbound marketers have systems – The haphazard nature of how many companies and individuals do business can be astonishing. We are all guilty of flying by the seat of our pants at times but to do it all the time is a business death wish. By having a systematic methodology to work people through their buying process, inbound marketers win brand advocates rather than simply close sales. The idea of systems sounds dry and unimaginative but that couldn’t be further from the truth. People like boundaries especially those they make. Systems help people understand where they fit and gets them familiar with what they are doing.
Inbound marketers are people – In the end, people do buy from people, even in the online world. Inbound marketers understand the importance of moving from the dehumanized world of push marketing to the customer centric world of what we’ll called “guided marketing”. Pulling someone through a system sounds like there needs to be some coercion to make it happen. People don’t like to be pushed or pulled but they are fine with being guided through a process that builds comfort as it goes.
In the end, every one of these points are about a marketer earning the respect of their prospect or customer. We live in a world where respect can be hard to come by.
Would you like to look different with your marketing? How about earning someone’s business rather than acing like you deserve it? Inbound marketers do this every day and there is little denying that this is what success looks like for the foreseeable future.
Do you agree?