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January 22, 2013

Cindy Penchina, President

6420118437 7f6c7f2922Sure, you know about internet marketing…you have a web site, had one for years.  E-commerce…you’ve heard how amazon.com is eating the brick & mortar stores’ lunch.  You do it - you shop around, then go online and buy it at a better price.  But internet marketing is not just for B2C - not anymore.  It has grown and developed into a necessary tool for B2B marketers.  It’s moved far beyond the static website that’s merely an “electronic” brochure or a digital “yellow page” ad.  That doesn’t cut it anymore.  Internet marketing has moved on; it has shifted dramatically over the past five or six years.  Maybe you’ve heard the buzzwords:  online marketing, web marketing, digital marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing.  No matter how you label it, it’s all “Inbound Marketing” now. 

Before the digital age, marketing had been mostly an outgoing stream:  you shouted out your message from the rooftops using radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, handbills, PR, billboards and direct marketing.  Those channels allowed you to reach your customers by sending out your message. The PC infiltration into everyone’s home and office has turned the old school marketing on its head.  Common access to the internet provides everyone with a mother lode of information.  With smartphones and tablets, we have the whole world in our hands.  People are actively reaching out, searching for information to make their work and home lives better.  Commerce is being initiated by the consumer and flowing into businesses.  Your website allows customers to come into your virtual office or store. 

Inbound marketing is about pulling in customers by providing information they seek.  This is not to say that the old ways are useless, they’re not.  It’s just that their role in the marketing mix is changing and contracting dramatically in many businesses and industries.  For small and local businesses, inbound marketing allows them to compete with the big boys.  It doesn’t require shelling out big bucks for TV and radio spots. 

To build and grow your business with inbound marketing, you need to use your website to open the doors and windows of your business - let people see inside and learn about what you do and how you do it.  You’ll attract potential customers by providing them with the information they seek.  People are actively looking for solutions to their problems and you need to educate them and provide them with the information that proves that you can solve their problems.  You can showcase yourself as the trusted source and expert in your field.  Over time you’re nurturing your reputation and building relationships with prospects.  Inbound marketing attracts leads, draws them in, captures their contact information and woos them through the buying process until they are ready to buy.  Then they’re open to a sales dialog culminating in the conversion to a customer. 

At the hub of inbound marketing is your website.  Your website attracts prospects and nurtures leads with these tools:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - using keywords to enable search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) to find you
  • Content - providing information that establishes you as an expert and trusted source of products and services.  Provide content in exchange for prospects’ contact information.  Content can be articles, blog posts, white papers, tip sheets, e-books, webinars, FAQ’s, videos, case studies
  • Offers – provides close-up experience with your products and services through free samples, trial periods, demonstrations, consultations, spec sheets, catalogs
  • Customer Testimonials - provides validation of your claims
  • Social Media - promotes a dialog on media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube
  • Email - nurtures leads through the sales funnel

These tools and your website need to be constantly evolving, and updated regularly as you learn more about you customers’ needs.  You’ll be able to address their problems spot on and become the go-to solution.

Smart B2B owners, small businesses, entrepreneurs and marketers know that they need to use all the inbound marketing tools of the trade to be successful.  

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