Inbound Marketing: Offer Helpful Solutions– If you think about the word ‘Inbound Marketing’, chances are you are also thinking about a company called Hubspot.
They did an amazing job at positioning the brand in people’s minds as ‘the inbound marketing company’.
They did this not just by promoting their main product, a Customer Relationship Management cloud software, to their target audience.
They started writing articles addressing the pain points of their target audience, some of them very broadly related to the business Hubspot was in.
They often didn’t mention their product at all because, after all, it was inbound marketing.
Let’s do a test now. Type ‘What is Inbound Marketing’ into Google. What company comes first?
What is Inbound Marketing?
Hubspot gives this definition((Unknown, ‘What is Inbound Marketing?’ – Hubspot.com)):
Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.
There are a few things that we can take from this definition about this business methodology:
- It creates ‘valuable content’
- It’s the opposite of Outbound Marketing
- It ‘forms connections’
- It ‘solves problems they already have’
To these I would also add:
- It helps raising awareness about problems customers are not aware they have
- It’s a form of permission marketing
How to Create Valuable Content
The first question about creating valuable content is ‘valuable to whom?’
The majority of companies creating content that is valuable to them. Very few create content that is valuable to their audience.
How do you create content that is valuable to your audience? Your start with understanding the problem(s) your audience has, and offer solutions around it.
Creating valuable content can also be a great SEO Strategy((Mellone, P. ‘How to Create the Perfect SEO Strategy for 2021’, 21 April 2021 – Increasily.com)) and exponentially increase the visibility of your website and brand.
Outbound vs Inbound Marketing
Let’s borrow the definition of Outbound Marketing from Hubspot again((Halligan, B. ‘Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing’, 30 October 2019 – Hubspot.com)):
Outbound marketing is a traditional method of marketing seeking to push messaging out to potential customers. Outbound marketing includes activities such as trade shows, seminar series and cold calling. It is costly and the ROI is much lower than inbound marketing.
Two main differences come to mind between the two marketing methodologies:
- The flow of the conversation between the company and the audience
- The purpose of the conversation
In Inbound Marketing, it’s generally the audience making contact with the business after reading a valuable piece of content.
The conversation flow is audience > company. The conversation is consensual.
In Outbound Marketing it’s the opposite. The company sends a message out to their audience, often interrupting their audience’s activity.
The conversation flow in this case is company> audience and it’s not consensual because it happens without permission((Godin, S. ‘Permission Marketing’, 31 January 2008 – Seths.blog)):
Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.
It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention.
How to Forms Connections
Of course the goal of any business enterprise is to increase sales.
If you know your strategy was not going to deliver any sales, would you still do it?
Having said that, there is a difference between a strategy where ‘sales’ is the only goal, and one where you want to know your audience and form connections.
Writing blog posts is a great way to provide solutions to your audience problems.
So is posting your content on the social media platforms that are used by your audience.
Acknowledging and replying to comments on your Instagram posts, replying to your direct messages in Messenger or Whatsapp, genuinely commenting on other people’s posts.
These are some of the ways you can form connections with your audience.
Known vs Unknown Problems
Reaching out to your audience with solutions about their problems is a great strategy.
What if your audience doesn’t know about a problem they already have? How can you raise awareness?
One way to discover potentially undetected challenges among your audience is to ask three questions: Why, What and How.
It’s the most important question. It’s about the purpose behind any action by your company or your customers.
Why do your customers listen to music? To relax? To get inspired? A content strategy around people who listen to music to relax will be very different from one whose target audience listens to music to get inspired.
This is mostly about your value proposition, your product or services. If we go with the music example, ‘music’ or ‘listening to music’ is the what.
Of the three questions, you want to pay close attention to this one because it can help you discover undetected problems that your audience is not aware about.
If we go on with the music example, asking how people listen to music led to several innovations: from home systems to portable devices, from physical cassettes or CDs to cloud storage.
If you are in business with a product or service, your ultimate goal is to make as many sales as possible to your target audience.
The Inbound Marketing methodology offers an alternative approach that resonates well with the H2H Marketing((Mellone, P. ‘What is H2H Marketing, 14 June 2021 – Increasily.com)) movement because it also looks to form connections through helpful and valuable content.