Starting Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

By on March 27th, 2012

In my last article, I discussed the growing importance of understanding inbound marketing.  Yes, it is a popular topic in the worlds of business and communications today… but for good reason: an effective inbound marketing strategy can truly help your organization grow!

Today, I’d like to discuss a bit about how to move forward with building and executing an inbound marketing strategy.

At the Core is Your Website

You already know that the internet is a terrific playing field. It’s the great leveler in that any business can have a web presence and in many cases the internet reader would never know whether a business is a mom and pop shop or a million dollar company in a penthouse suite downtown.  Any business can and should have a good-looking, easy to navigate website that appeals to its target market. This website becomes the base for your inbound marketing strategy.

Reaching Your Audience

Of course, you need to decide how you will provide information to your target market. Blogging or regular article posts should be a given. If you don’t have a blogging platform built into your website, you should have that added. Then you can schedule your posts. Will they be weekly? Daily? You want consistency and timeliness. So you should establish a schedule that you know you can keep.

Creating Content

Then you need to create a list of blog topics. What kind of information do you want to provide? Think about what is relevant to your target market. What will they want to read? What will establish you as the expert?

Not a writer? Not to worry. You have several options. Look to someone within your company or perhaps a trusted colleague. You can also look into ghostwriters to write the content for you. You want someone to write for your company with a voice that fits. Not everyone is a wordsmith. And that’s okay. An outsider can write in your voice and your posts will still be relevant and authentic.

It’s tempting to buy a bunch of articles that are touted to be laden with key words and optimized for the search engines. But these articles can be found all over the net. And you’ll lose your authenticity if the internet reader figures out that your information is not yours.

The Multi-Channel Marketing Approach

Start thinking about how you can provide information that utilizes other mediums. How about some audio files that are chock full of tips? Or what about getting a guest spot on an internet radio show? An audio question and answer session can be provided as a downloadable link on your website or posted on your social media profiles. (Learn more about inbound marketing tools and techniques such as social media platforms here.)

Humanize Your Brand

Don’t forget that amidst all this information dissemination, you need to portray your business personality. It’s okay to have a post that isn’t all business. Want to post a shout out to a customer? Do it. Want to whip up a quick video clip showing a couple minutes of your employees hard at work? These sorts of things make you only that much more real to your target market. And it can give you a definite edge. So as you implement your inbound marketing plans, don’t forget to show your target market a bit of personality here and there.

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5 Responses to “Starting Your Inbound Marketing Strategy”

  1. Gina Danner Says:

    Nice Outline John. You provide some basic guidelines and information. The challenge for everyone trying to apply this model comes in the execution. First of all… don’t even go down this path unless you are ready to commit dollars and time to the effort. Both are precious and there is very little more damaging to tell all your clients you are going to publish a blog, get one article or one month of articles posted to never go back to address it again.

    Create a blogging team in your company and start with one article a week. Publish for at least 2 months before you really tell anyone about it. Even waiting to post the link on the public face of your website. This will insure that you can maintain a schedule. Once you have been able to maintain one article a week for awhile move to two articles a week.

    We’ve all been to websites where they have one blog, one news release or one article posted four years ago. If it is worth doing once, do it regularly.

    The key is that once you start you don’t stop. Learn how to build links and depth within your articles. A great blog is about providing digestible, but valuable information.

    A hint about ghostwriters… that path is often easier said than done. Does your writer have knowledge in your industry? Do they write in a voice that is appealing to your readers? Are they consistent? And do you need to have someone else proofread their work? What about fact checking? You are publishing facts they have found somewhere… are the statistics and quotes accuate? Be cautious in going down this path.

    Keep a file / box of interesting articles you read or come across. This is a great idea starter. The printing industry is ripe with content ideas.

    Make sure that your content is not too salesy for your business alone. Printers shouldn’t be afraid to talk about all things NOT print and not try to just tout the joys of printing. Likewise mobile markters need to realize that print is still relevant and valuable.

    Creating a compelling blog that generates traffic takes time – up to 2 years or more – before you see the real rewards. But, once you have created consistently relevant content then you are able to get closer to achieving that panacea of a lead generating marketing machine.

  2. John Foley, Jr. Says:

    Gina!

    Thanks so much for your comments! Your comments are spot on and especially the point “this takes time”. Like all campaigns there is not a “flash in the pan” method and it takes time.

    Thanks you for engaging!

    John

    aka @johnfoleyjr

  3. Mike Porter Says:

    Another great post, John.

    In my experience, most companies that decide to implement these approaches encounter two big obstacles – creating enough content and publishing on a consistent basis. This is especially true for small and medium sized businesses.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I’m one of those ghost writers you mention in your post. My clients are mostly in the business of customer communications where I’ve got decades of experience so I’m able to write intelligently about topics that are relevant to the audience my clients want to reach.

    I’m not a fan of re-posting articles you find on the internet into your own blog or newsletter. But if this is the only way to keep publishing consistently, I recommend taking a few minutes to preface the articles with a paragraph or two explaining why you thought it was important, or how your particular audience can benefit from the information you’ve passed along. Putting your own spin on the content keeps the focus on your publication instead of transferring to the original author or source.

    Anyone implementing an inbound marketing strategy should take advantage of the assistance available from articles, presentations, and videos you’ve produced, John, as well as numerous other sources. We try to help companies struggling with inbound marketing with monthly audio tips called “90-Second Content Marketing Lessons”, a free newsletter, and other guides and articles.

    As Gina pointed out, results are not immediate. It takes some time to develop a following. But keeping prospects aware of your brand by consistently providing useful and relevant information definitely pays off in the long term.

  4. John Foley Says:

    Hi Mike!
    Thanks very much for the kind words and for leaving that comment. As you alluded to, there are certainly are different options for finding and then publishing content. I think the most important thing is to always keep the audience in mind — Will this content appeal to them? Will it make them take action? To answer a “yes” those questions, it certainly might mean putting some sort of custom/personal introduction to an article that was originally produced by and for someone else.

    Thanks again for engaging here!

  5. Nancy Scott Says:

    Thanks so much for another great post, John. Like Mike, I’m another one of those “ghostwriters” we’re talking about here, and I’d like to underscore his advice to go professional. When I started ghost-blogging for one print/production client, I wrote a month’s worth of blogs before my client began posting daily, along with the public announcement. In practice, this meant we always had 30 blog posts in the hopper. Most organizations have a lot more source material than they realize and a good writer/editor can repurpose. But don’t over do that. The key to staying fresh and relevant is to read the news and comment on “what’s out there.” Part II: Once you’ve got the content, use every social media angle possible to broadcast.