At a recent visit to the doctor with my husband, I sat and waited while he had a procedure under anesthesia. At one point the anesthesiologist came out to the waiting room and noticed the book I was reading about Inbound Marketing.
He asked me to tell him in as few words as possible what it was about. I froze, reminded of my networking group days of having to give 30 second elevator speeches and thought, 'oh, no, not again'.
And then, an inspiration came. Something told me how to describe Inbound Marketing. Even the experts cannot agree upon how many elements are involved in this new system of attraction or social media marketing. I realized that the only solution was to answer with one word.
So, I took a deep breath and said, 'Demographics'. "What do you mean by that?" he inquired. I went on to explain to him briefly what I meant. "If the people who are your potential clients and customers will look for you on the Internet then that is where you have to be for them to easily find you."
In other words, it is as essential with Inbound as it was with Outbound Marketing to know who your target audience is, what your niche is (or whatever terminology the pundits are exclaiming lately). There are demographic groups, dwindling rapidly in number but still around, that will not look for someone or something on the Internet.
Even someone who is not in business can guess that it would make no sense to promote oneself where he or she will not be found. But there are several factors that are rapidly transforming this situation. They are:
• the number of people using Internet searches is increasing
• the number of people who do not use them is decreasing
• Inbound Marketing can be much more cost effective than Outbound Marketing. In fact, for a new, small business, the Internet may be the only way that marketing and advertising can be affordable.
The cost of a print, radio and TV ads campaign can be astronomical. Historically, they have been the purview of large companies with even larger budgets. This is changing as well.
With so many large companies in the doghouse, having to lay off people or going out of business, small businesses and entrepreneurships are on the rise. They may well be the salvation of our economy. Internet marketing may well be the salvation of small businesses and entrepreneurships.
Almost anyone with a smattering of computer skills who is willing to take the time to learn can minimally master the beginnings of a marketing program. This is not to say that professional guidance is not essential. But as budgets grow the need and affordability for that grows.
There are many aspects of Inbound Marketing that many people believe to be called Social Media Marketing. Social Media venues are but one aspect of the IM system. They are the myriad of tools which facebook, twitter and LinkedIn seem to top along with YouTube. There are hundreds more but they will not be discussed here.
There are many writing venues such as Biznik. People can express their opinions, share their expertise and write timely news articles. In addition, there is the personal blog that allows one the freedom to pick their own topic and basically make their own writing rules.
There is also something called 'leads nurturing'. It is symbolized by a 'funnel' and starts with attracting prospects. Through a set of steps including offering free valuable information in exchange for a name and e-mail address, prospects become leads. Leads who are properly 'attracted' get funneled into paying customers.
There are technical tools such as Search Engine Optimization for websites. (Did I mention web design and development as part of the system?) In addition, there are local online Business Directories that are like mini-sites and use SEO on a local rather than Internet 'universal' scale.
My own current particular favorite is the local online Business Directory. In fact, from a marketing perspective, one could be so bold as to say that for many companies, these are the primary source of publicity and Internet connection rather than a website. There are many directories and their numbers seem to grow daily. Some of the top ones are Merchant Circle, Yelp, Yahoo Local, City Search just to mention a few.
It is typical in certain industries to restrict their Internet presence to these directories. It is a very affordable way for a new small business or entrepreneurship to begin a marketing program. Most of the directories cost little if anything to join. The cost is in one’s investment of time. Since there is often no choice in a new business, the entrepreneur opts for the expense of time rather than money.
But it still comes back around to that one word description of knowing potential buyer 'demographics'. This has been the foundation of successful marketing programs way before the Internet came on the scene. So know that first and the rest will fall into place.