Are you trying to use the Inbound Marketing Methodology to grow your company more effectively in South Florida?
Does your company need more visitors, leads, and customers so that it can grow its revenue?
In this podcast episode, you’ll learn how to stand out from the crowd with inbound marketing -- and get found by the right people, in the right places, at the right time, and in the right context as a subject matter expert.
I’m your host Joshua Feinberg, Chief Thought Leader of SP Home Run.
Tap Into the Inbound Marketing Methodology to Grow Your South Florida-Based Business
And today we’re going to dive into the Inbound Marketing Methodology, specifically for small- and medium-sized businesses in Southeast Florida.
First, let’s talk about the differences between inbound marketing as compared to traditional, outbound marketing -- and in particular, why inbound marketing?
Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
Traditional marketing (outbound marketing) focuses on interrupting people -- when they’re watching TV, when they’re listening to something on the radio, putting up a banner ad or pop-up on a website that they’re visiting, sending them an email that they may or may not want to be getting (there’s a four letter word for that of course!), or interrupting their YouTube video at an inopportune time for selfish reasons.
This kind of marketing worked for a long time. Think about the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and the early 2000s -- until the early 2010s when new technology came out that allowed people to bypass commercials.
If you think about
- People paying money to subscribe to satellite radio, so they don’t have to listen to radio commercials
- People paying money to buy a DVR (digital video recorder) or subscribe to a TiVo-like service, or subscribe to Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime, so they can watch TV shows without having to watch commercials
- iTunes, where you no longer have to buy the entire CD just to get access to the two or three songs that are really good
And there are other disruptive business models. Look at what Amazon and Amazon Prime are doing to the retail space, what Uber is doing to the taxicab industry, and what Airbnb is doing to the hotel industry. These are very disruptive technologies.
A lot of this comes down to consumers wanting to be in control -- to get exactly what they want when they want, 100% on their own terms.
And you could say, “well wait a second. Our company is B2B (business to business), not B2C (business to consumer).” It doesn’t matter. We’re all selling to human beings. Your influencers. Your decision makers. All the different stakeholders that you have are people. So if they get used to using certain kinds of tool and technologies in their personal lives, those same habits are going to come with them to the workplace.
So you have to be sensitive to people wanting to be in control. Because of this, the buyer’s journey has changed drastically.
As a result, if they can find a self-service option, that allows them to bypass talking to you or your company until they’re pretty far along, in most cases they’re going to prefer that for a variety of reasons. But one of the bigger reasons why:
Your company may only be open traditional business hours. But what if someone wants information or wants to figure out what their options are and do a lot of research and it’s Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. Or 2 o’clock in the morning. So that’s certainly one option.
But if you just think about your desires and your habits and how they’ve changed when you make minor purchase decisions like deciding where to go for dinner. Or what hotel to book. All the way to major purchase decisions like how you research purchasing a car, what college to send one of your children to, what to invest in for your retirement account, or doctors, or home purchases.
Embrace Change with Search, Social, Mobile, and Cloud -- or Risk Becoming Irrelevant
Everything has changed. We have a much more empowered buyer today because of the rise of and mainstream adoption of search engines.
Think about how integral search engines are in our lives today, compared to as recently as five to ten years ago. Yes, Google and Yahoo! have been around for the better part of 20 years or so. But it’s only been in the past five years that everyone has a search engine in their pocket at all times. And they don’t even have to type the search anymore. They just literally hit a button, and they say “OK Google” or Siri.
This is a game-changer for how your clients, potential clients, prospects, and all the different stakeholders in your ecosystem are empowered to look at a very different buyer’s journey than they were as recently as five or ten years ago.
The rise of, and the mainstream adoption of, search engines have been a big deal. Social media has been huge. There are now literally billions of people on Facebook every day around the world. The average person spends about an hour a day on Facebook, which is just insane.
Of course, LinkedIn and Twitter are very popular as well depending on your buyer personas. People watch incredible amounts of online video. It used to be that YouTube was the only game in town for watching online video. But all the major social media platforms have now been giving lots of promotional credit for people that share videos natively on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Video consumption online is just off the charts as mobile devices have gotten more powerful, and as people have better mobile broadband access when they’re on the go
And mobile devices, in general, have been a big game-changer. Think about the first thing you look at when you get up in the morning. The last thing you look at before you go to bed. There have been all kinds of studies where people have expressed that they would rather give up physical intimacy with a significant other before they’d give up their mobile device -- which is crazy, the definition of addiction.
There’ve been other studies that have found that there are more mobile devices in households than toothbrushes, which sounds kind of gross until you think about it this way: if each person has a tablet, a smartwatch, and a smartphone -- and maybe there are streaming devices like a Google Chromecast. It adds up.
Search engines have been a game-changer for all of this. Social media has been a game-changer for all of this. Mobile devices have made an enormous impact. And it isn’t like mobile devices weren’t around until recently. It’s just that the tipping point with mobile devices has been very pronounced ever since the original iPhone came out in 2007. Before that, there were some early adopters. If you worked for a big company, or if you were particularly geeky, you have had a Palm Pilot or a BlackBerry device or something like that.
But it’s only as progressive versions of the iPhone and iOS have become widely adopted, and Google-based smartphones or more broadly Android-based smartphones have become widely adopted that mobile computing has taken off.
You see the major mobile phone carriers now have family four-packs where kids who are just starting to read have their own mobile devices.
One big thing to be aware of, when it comes to inbound marketing, inbound sales, the changes in the way that people research and make purchase decisions, and using HubSpot in general, is how big of a deal cloud computing has become.
Cloud computing is where you’re essentially storing IT resources on someone else’s computers and bandwidth. This is very different from how businesses traditionally managed IT where they had client/server setups with desktop computers and laptop computers in the office. They stored data on their servers in their offices on their assets. Cloud computing shifts everything onto someone else’s computers.
A typical example of cloud computing, besides HubSpot, that most are familiar with is Salesforce. A lot of people run Google Apps, which is cloud-based, Microsoft Office 365, which is also cloud-based, as well as thousands of other cloud-based applications like these.
Adapt to a Digitally-Transformed Buyer’s Journey
All of this has made the consumerization of IT a big deal. We’re just becoming a lot more digitally-transformed. And one of the big factors now is that 70% of all purchase decisions across most industries are being made before you get a chance to talk with potential clients.
70%! This is a big challenge for a lot of traditional brick-and-mortar industries. It’s a big challenge for a lot of conventional sales teams. It’s also an enormous opportunity for companies that are able to get found early on in that journey. And they’re able to be seen as subject matter experts, educators, and trusted advisors.
And they earn a seat at the table to be able to shape the buying process. This is both enormously powerful and enormously important.
It’s enormously important because if your company isn’t getting found early, they’re finding someone else. And if somebody else is their guru or expert, that’s teaching them what to buy and the right questions to ask, and you’re completely out of the loop -- not a good place to be.
So if you get looped in at all, it’s going to be after they’ve already dug their heels in and decided what they’re purchasing. At that stage, at this late stage, if that’s the first time that you’re hearing from someone, more than likely they’re just price shopping. Their boss told them, “Yes, you can buy what you want. Just make sure that you’re getting the best price.”
You’re the third bid -- or perhaps the fourth bid or fifth bid. Whatever it is. The only way that you’re going to win is by competing on price -- which we know is a sucky way to win the business: it kills your profit margins, your team’s morale, and is a downward spiral for your business.
Use Inbound Marketing to Succeed with Google’s Zero Moment of Truth
Keep in mind that getting found early by the right people, in the right places, at the right time, and most of all in the right context is extremely important. Google started talking about this a few years ago and called it the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).
ZMOT is a really big deal for any company or organization that has a significant percentage of its stakeholders, influencers, prospects, and clients navigating the buyer’s journey by looking up things on search engines. Every once in a while, we’ll come across really stubborn CEOs that tell us, “Our clients don’t use search engines like that.”
Really? Ask them. I guarantee that if you hang out with your clients long enough, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find many, at this stage of the game, who don’t use a smartphone device, pretty much every waking hour of the day. And it would be very unusual for this kind of person to have a smartphone in their pocket and not be using it to look things up -- whether it’s on Google, Bing, or a social media channel.
What Zero Moment of Truth refers to is that you are no longer in control of your brand. Your brand is the collective wisdom of what everyone says about you online. It’s very important with the Zero Moment of Truth for you to recognize that you can no longer control everything.
In a digital-first world, where the consumer is in charge, we need to recognize just how critical it is to be seen as that expert, to be seen in the right context.
Fill the Top of Your Sales Funnel
Inbound marketing is all about attracting the right people into the top of your funnel. Being able to turn strangers into visitors, visitors into leads, and ultimately leads into customers. But we’re not done once they’re customers. For any business that’s based on repeat sales or recurring revenue, we need to be able to delight our customers so that they become our promoters. They become our brand ambassadors. And they fuel the cycle, and they help us attract more strangers and more visitors.
That’s what inbound marketing is all about and how inbound marketing compares to traditional, outbound marketing.
Another interesting area that’s come up recently is the whole idea of inbound sales.
HubSpot, back in 2006-2008, started talking about inbound marketing. But only in the past few years has HubSpot started talking about inbound sales.
What inbound sales is all about: Instead of using the same static elevator pitch, and cold calling and harassing your way onto people’s radar screen, inbound sales is all about identifying who’d be a really good fit for your company, finding a way to connect with them in a way that positions your company and your sales team as experts.
For those that see value in having that connection, exploring what their true needs are. And before pitching -- in reality, we don’t pitch them at all -- we really understand what they’re looking for: their goals, their plans, and their challenges before we advise them on a suggested course of action.
It’s very important with inbound sales that we understand who our ideal buyer personas are, we understand what makes them tick, and we understand how can personalize our whole process so that we’re not using that static elevator pitch.
Bury the Static Elevator Pitch
The static elevator pitch is kind of like living in the past. It’s not how people want to purchase any more in a world where the buyer is more in control. So that’s how inbound sales differs from inbound marketing.
But when an organization is aligned and firing on all cylinders, your inbound marketing and inbound sales need to be working hand in hand and very well aligned.
With the inbound marketing methodology, it’s all about attracting, converting, closing, and delighting.
With the inbound sales methodology, it’s similar. It follows a similar funnel and progression. Inbound sales is about
- Identifying the right potential clients
- Connecting with them in a way that adds value to their day, as opposed to subtracting and demanding value
- Exploring what their true needs are
- Advising on a potential solution
Another piece of the puzzle, in pulling this all together to make inbound marketing effective for small- and medium-sized businesses in Southeast Florida: understanding the idea of buyer personas.
A lot of companies think that they have buyer personas. But the reality is that most of the time, these companies’ buyer personas are not fleshed out well enough to be particularly useful.
Just to make sure that we’re on the same page: A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of an ideal client based on actual research and some educated speculation.
In other words, you may be running your business for literally decades. However, it’s very easy to get blindsided, over-generalize, and miss a lot of really key, subtle nuances about the differences between different kinds of clients that you want to work with.
Get the Buyer Persona Data or Set Your Company Up to Fail
When it comes to buyer personas, we go to the actual clients, and we either interview them, survey them, have conversations with them, and look at how they interact with website content. We get actual, real data. And we’ll make some inferences from that. But we need actual, real data.
In small- and medium-sized businesses, it’s important to recognize that you don’t have unlimited resources. So, one of the more important things is that we need to be clear on who the primary buyer persona is and who the secondary buyer persona is.
Sometimes like a kid in a candy shop, everyone wants everything. But we know that this isn’t always possible.
Typically the best practice for prioritizing buyer personas is we figure out who the primary buyer persona is and we focus most of our initial resources on the primary buyer persona.
Then we figure out who the secondary buyer persona is and we allocate a little less resources to the kind of ideal client.
We start to segment our database, which is super-critical to making all of this work.
Then when it comes to tertiary kinds of stakeholders, your third- and fourth- most important buyer personas, those go in a parking lot area, and we came back to them six to twelve months down the road. But all the while, we’ll segment, as leads are generated on landing pages and segment as we’re sending emails and publishing and interacting on social media. And we’ll bake this into the campaign structure so that we can be super-relevant to who they are and where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Map Out the Buyer’s Journey for Your Most Important Buyer Personas
So we have buyer personas and we have the buyer’s journey -- as the second, important part of making inbound marketing work more successfully.
The buyer’s journey is the active research process that someone goes through in between when that person first addresses a goal, pain, or symptom. And that person compares their different options, makes a decision, and ultimately consumates that into a purchase.
Again, the buyer’s journey is the active research process someone goes through in between when that person first learns about your company or its content, and when that person becomes a paying customer.
When we do this the first way, for a buyer’s journey, we need to be able to use content -- which could be print content, video content, or another kind of multimedia content, and apply the context of who they are and where they are in the buyer’s journey. When we do those things together, it can make an enormous difference to being relevant to who they are and where they are.
An example I like to use about who they are, and specifically where they are:
Imagine I’m going out to purchase or lease a new car, which is something that I’m actively in the middle of right now.
I’m 6’1” -- I’m reasonably tall. And as you might guess, someone that’s 6’1” would also have tall kids. So it’s not just my headroom and legroom that we care about. It’s the headroom and legroom in the backseat as well.
One of the things that we’re going to want to do is make sure that the car is roomy enough that we don’t have our knees in our chests -- and that the car is comfortable.
My first time out to the car dealer: I go and sign in. So the sales rep at the car dealer can call me by name explicitly “Mr. Feinberg” 14 times in the first five minutes because artificially using my name is supposed to make him seem like he’s really dialed in to what I’m looking for.
The sales rep then says, “Mr. Feinberg, which car will you be buying or leasing today?”
My response: dude. It’s our first time out. We’re just checking out the headroom and legroom. Maybe if things go right, we’ll go out for a test drive.
The sales rep comes back a few minutes later: “Mr. Feinberg, what’s it going to take for you to drive off the lot today with one of these cars?”
My response: I told you already, it’s our first time here. We’re weeks away from doing this.
And this goes on and on until the point where the sales rep pisses me off, and we’re done with that dealership -- bridges are burned.
Personalize Your Approach for Who They Are and Where They Are (Context)
You have to be very well aware of where somebody is in the buyer’s journey. And adjust accordingly to be able to help that person. If you’re too aggressive, that’s a huge turnoff.
Now let’s say that we’re at the end of the buyer’s journey. I’m ready to come in and sign the lease today.
I walk into the car dealership, and there’s no one to be found in the showroom. I’m looking around, standing at the desk, and it’s completely vacant.
15-, almost 20-minutes goes by, and there’s not a single person working there. And I only have two hours to get this whole thing done. The clock’s ticking and I can’t find anyone. That’s not good either.
So as a business, you have to be able to understand where somebody is. And adjust and personalize accordingly. If you don’t do it, somebody else will.
This is part of the reason why Amazon has been so wildly successful. Amazon’s team are masters of understanding what you’ve explicitly told them, by your purchases, and what you’ve implicitly demonstrated to Amazon based on things they’ve seen that you’re interested in. This might include items that you’ve looked at, but didn’t necessarily purchase.
Now, Amazon doesn’t have to consider the buyer’s journey. In most cases, it sells a lot of products that are relatively inexpensive, impulse purchases.
But if you have a B2B business, with a long sales cycle (sometimes weeks or months before they buy), you’d better understand the steps of the sales cycle, the buyer’s journey, and the deal stages they go through -- to pull this all together.
Invest in Creating Remarkable Content
Another essential part of being able to get the inbound marketing and inbound sales methodology right for your small- and medium-sized business is: you need remarkable content.
What is remarkable content? It’s content that’s so valuable that people want to remark about it to their friends and family members. They can’t help but remark about it because it’s so helpful and so valuable.
And what does that content do? It typically answers their questions. The content helps them with their problems. Not your problems. Their problems. It’s all about them.
Oftentime companies that are new to inbound marketing, inbound sales, and HubSpot, talk about themselves way too much. And they talk about their customers’ problems way too little.
If you want to be able to nail inbound marketing and inbound sales and get a good return on investment (ROI) from HubSpot, you need to focus on answering the questions and addressing the problems that your most important customers have.
And the better the job you can do with this, the easier it is for you to add value and to become a trusted advisor.
Promote Your Content to the Right People in the Right Places
In addition to remarkable content, we have to be able to leverage that content in the right way. Otherwise, it’s like the tree falling in the forest that nobody hears. We want to make sure that we have a good promotion and distribution strategy for that content.
Being able to properly search optimize the content, build inbound links to relevant, authoritative websites for those content assets -- so the search engines know that we have good content -- build social reach -- so search engines see your followers on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn liking, sharing, and commenting on your content.
So if we can manage promotion and distribution by search and encourage it by social, over time, we should be building up a high-quality email database that’s very well segmented. We know who the buyer persona is, and we know where they are in the buyer’s journey so that we can share the most relevant content.
Your sales team should also be using this content, when they have conversations with people in person, by phone, by live chat, or by email. If you have a piece of content that can educate potential buyers about these important issues, your sales team should be sharing that content.
While it’s great for your sales team to share content, it doesn’t end there either.
Customer marketing, the delight phase, should be publishing and sharing new content that’s especially relevant for new customers. You essentially teach new customers how to get the best value from their recent purchase.
To make sure that you’re investing appropriately, a good back-of-the-napkin rule is that about 50% of your resources should go into content creation. And about 50% of your resources should go into promotion.
In other words, if you have $100 to invest, spend $50 on content creation and spend $50 on content promotion.
If you have 100 hours to invest, spend 50 hours on content creation and spend 50 hours on content promotion.
All too often, what ends up happening, is that you spend all of your time and resources creating this fantastic eBook, video, or webinar, and the promotional strategy is an afterthought. And you end up being the best-kept secret in town -- which is not a good thing.
So think through what you’re going to do with distribution and promotion over time.
Educate and Build Trust at Scale with the Inbound Marketing Methodology
When you’re doing it right, it’s all about being able to educate and build trust at scale.
Educate potential clients about the issues that matter most to them. And be able to use that as a tool, an asset, to build trust with scale.
So today, we’ve been talking about how small- and medium-sized businesses can dive into the Inbound Marketing Methodology.
I’m so glad to have you with us for this episode of the Inbound Sunshine Podcast.
If you learned something valuable from this episode, please subscribe to the Inbound Sunshine Podcast on iTunes and leave us a review.
To get notified about upcoming episodes, be sure to visit www.sphomerun.com/inbound.
I’m Joshua Feinberg. And we look forward to seeing you back again next episode when we continue the conversation about how your company can grow revenue with HubSpot, Inbound Marketing, and Inbound Sales.