Not so long ago self-publishing was reserved for authors who wanted (or needed!) to skip the hassle of finding a traditional publisher. Today the concept of self-publishing on the web has ushered in a paradigm shift for B2B marketers. Companies are no longer dependent on third party publishers such as trade magazines to get their story told (although third parties still offer valuable credibility and remain an important channel). Often called inbound marketing, the new self-publishing approach allows companies to break through previous budget barriers to reach a wider circle of prospects than ever before at a fraction of the cost.
You can now easily share your story to prospects just as your sales team would at a sales meeting—but with the web, it’s timed to the exact moment prospects are interested in your product or service. How cool is that? Inbound marketing also has the added benefit of making your site more visible so even more prospects can find you. According to HubSpot, a whopping 93% of companies using inbound marketing increase traffic to their site.
So what exactly is inbound marketing? As the chameleon of promotion, it takes on many forms reflecting the surroundings or rather, the communication preference of both the company and their prospects. The real beauty of self-publishing is that you can share your story, thought or article in any number of channels to cast a wider net to attract more interest for your product or service.
Not just confined to blogs, inbound marketing encompasses a wide range of communications all designed to attract prospects to your site and sales team. From case studies and technical papers to shorter information snippets such as tweets or posts on LinkedIn, infographics, videos or pay per click ads, all these channels contain the same rich content that lets prospects get to know you and your products. The sky and creativity are the only limits. The digital content flow graphic shows how all these channels interconnect to allow your content to circle around the web.
So with such a vast expanse of options, how do you get started with B2B inbound marketing? Here are six simple steps that will create new customers for you.
1. Tie it to the Marketing Strategy
To be effective, B2B inbound marketing must be tied to a comprehensive marketing strategy. Last week Patrick Strother wrote about how these are developed through products such as Brand VisionSM and Marketing SynergiSM.
2. Get Buy-in
Get buy-in from execs in both sales and marketing in your organization. You’ll want a base of support to make this successful. There may be some reluctance at first, but if your customers use Google, you should be using inbound marketing. The content used in inbound marketing is essentially the same as is used in a sales call and who doesn’t want the opportunity for more sales calls?
3. Start with One or Two Channels
Once everyone is on board, begin with one or two channels that your team is comfortable with and that match up with your prospects. If there is technical information to share, articles and blogs may be your first focus. Videos are a great choice for companies with a visual product or compelling story based on relationships. Remember—any channel you choose can act as an extension of a sales meeting with a prospect.