There are two kinds of companies.
I mean, not really. There are tons of different kinds of companies. But for our purposes, there are just two. Work with me, here.
There are companies that need new business to survive, and companies that need new business to grow. Now, there’s some overlap here. But the fact is that, as we’ve discussed elsewhere, inbound marketing isn’t designed to generate quick returns. It’s built for endurance and versatility, not speed – a decathlete instead of a sprinter.
And you definitely don’t want your business to be the sort that only barely stays afloat, jumping from sale to sale like sinking icebergs, or rocks in a lava pit. You know. Like in Indiana Jones?
I’m saying you don’t want to be Indiana Jones. You want to be the guy in the airplane overhead laughing at Indiana Jones.
Reputation, Reputation, Reputation
One of the things we like to talk about here is “thought leadership.” It’s a fancy-pants way to say that you’re the person or the company everyone turns to in your field. Think about the iPhone; when you want a smart phone, the first company you think of is Apple. Regardless of how good the competition might be, they have – by far – the most mindshare in their area.
That’s what you want to have.
Nothing – nothing – drives business growth like being the recognized leader in your field. And that’s something every business should aspire to. After all, if you don’t want to be the best there is at what you do, bar none, over and above all of your competition, what’s the point of even being in business? Second best is never as profitable.
So one of the main things that inbound marketing aspires to do is build that reputation. And you do it by giving stuff away.
Stick with me.
Apple got their thought leadership because they invented the modern smartphone. So they get it automatically. That’s hard to replicate, so if you’re in an already-established industry, you need to build thought leadership in other ways. So how can you convince everyone you’re the expert? How can you become a thought leader and make your voice the voice of snack food additives?
How to Become Your Version of Steve Jobs
By providing that expertise free of charge.
I mean, nobody knows your industry the way you do, right? So talk about it. Talk about the trends you see. Talk about where you think it’s going. Solve their problems. Give them advice. Be useful, informative, reliable, and engaging – and your reputation will build itself.
It's called content marketing. You can use blogs or emails. You can be active on Twitter in the right social circles (and I cannot stress enough how valuable an active and entertaining Twitter account can be). You can write ebooks, or stage webinars. Give away your expertise to build your identity and grow your brand.
Because if your perspective is worthwhile and your value clear, your name will spread like wildfire.
And here’s the kicker: even if you don’t establish yourself as the be-all and end-all of information about your industry, the effort still generates value. It spreads your brand, reaches and engages your leads, and introduces them to your business. It builds out your influence and establishes you in the right circles – which means that people will be seeking you out.
At which point it’s simply a matter of laying the right traps to catch them in the sales funnel. Do whatever you can to snag their email addresses and establish permission to market to them. The ones who bite – they’re the ones who are the most primed to hear from you. They already know you and trust you, and you have an opportunity to make them trust you even more, talk to them about your services, and guide them down to the sale.