One of the most common distresses I have heard from fellow business owners, and experienced personally when first starting out, is the confusion that surrounds setting up a successful marketing strategy.
So often we are overwhelmed by jargon at the very first step. Hearing things like 'value propositions', 'CMA', 'inbound vs. outbound', 'SEO', 'qualitative vs. quantitate', 'scope', 'deliverables', 'comparative analysis'...
Does your head hurt yet?
Mine did. As did many of my friends and colleagues while trying to get their business ideas off of the ground.
So it has been my mission to remedy that. To digest all of the lingo and complex language, and to share what REALLY makes a successful marketing plan.
None of the unnecessary clutter. Just some simple strategies to create a plan that works, and can be set up from the comfort of our home offices.
So here we go.
Inbound marketing. What is it really?
Unlike more traditional forms of outbound or promotional marketing; the kind that feels ‘salesy’ or ‘pitchy’, (think Don Draper style taglines) this philosophy is built on establishing trust.
It focuses on forming a genuine connection with potential clients or followers. Creating an audience that is aligned with not only our products, but what our brands truly value.
In other words, we are BUILDING our audiences.
Rather than hitting them with endless catch-phrases and punny tag lines, tricking them with words, or paying through the nose for ads and then feeling confused when looking at the analytics, we ATTRACT an audience based on a good ol' fashion value exchange.
By offering them a piece of valuable information we create an exchange for their taking another step towards getting to know our brands. Otherwise known as a 'user journey'.
So how exactly do we create an effective inbound marketing strategy that builds trust and churns out loyal customers?
I'm so glad you asked.
We tell a story with our branding...
Brand storytelling. The next steps.
VALUES + IDENTITY
Creating a trustworthy brand is about creating a personable brand. The the most effective branding has a personality of it’s own.
Some companies go as far as creating fully developed character profiles for their business, complete with likes, dislikes, goals and objectives.
But what we're really wanting to achieve here is a sense of identity. One that is unique and recognisable. It is the foundation for who we are in the world and what we're here to accomplish.
Is it innovation? Environmental awareness? Personal development? Living at your fullest potential?
We can't just talk the talk here. To truly convert customers and create a trustworthy brand worth following, we need to walk the walk.
Communicating a brand personality is an essential step in building trust with our audiences. Ultimately this is how we achieve a successful inbound marketing strategy.
This also happens to be my favourite step of the storytelling process.
The actual telling of the story.
How we communicate our personality, narrative and values can be integrated into everything that our businesses do and create.
An example is the kind of visual storytelling we choose. This can include choices in light, colour and composition in the photos we share.
Is our narrative style bright, carefree, and fun like the image on the left? Or is it dark and moody with a high contrast like the image on the right?
These images tell a different story, and convey a very different mood.
How we feel about them is altered by the elements in their visual composition. It is a perfect example of visual communication in the digital world.
We can also share our story through the language we speak in when writing copy for websites, blog posts and social media captions.
We are natural storytellers. And we have built businesses out of love and a desire to make the world better with our products or services.
This is the truly authentic part of what makes our businesses tick. It isn't spread sheets or complex strategies.
It's communicating clearly what we're here to achieve on a human level.
It's caring and compassion, and the narrative that shares our journey of WHY we do what we do.
We don’t just want anyone checking us out. We want conversions. We want shoppers with intent. And we especially want an aligned audience who share our values.
We are CREATING our customers.
They see value in what we have to say and are invested in our business journeys. But first, we have to lead them to this point.
This is why providing valuable content across multiple platforms in our digital real-estate is important.
Whether it's social media, blog posts, websites, mailing lists or beyond, inbound marketing is placing those pieces of content right in their path, their touch points. It is inviting the 'right' audience to engage further.
We TRANSFORM our audience into our customers.
This takes time and trust. If we want investment from them, we first need to invest ourselves.
For those visual learners, the graphic below shows the perfect synergy when it comes to transforming these customers or 'leads'.
We have valuable content, delivered to an open-minded and aligned audience, right when they need it most.
Once we have perfected these three areas, we create a truly successful inbound-marketing strategy.
We build a community that stands with us, and co-promotes our initiatives.
Inbound marketing is not only an effective strategy to churn out leads, it is an opportunity to create a sense of investment by those who buy our products and support our dreams as small businesses.
It is a chance to make a profound and personal impact with our work. To be more than bottom lines, ROI's or lead generation.
Because we are here to be innovative entrepreneurs, and to bring our customers on that journey alongside us.