Saturday, September 21, 2013

Proactive Marketing, an Extension of Inbound Marketing

You're at your desk, you have a project to promote, you have a budget, but the big question is what to do next?

That's always been the big question, and it always will be.

One possibility is implementing a concept has grown over the last few years: Inbound Marketing.

The premise of inbound marketing is that you can use aspects of social media to post content that will be of interest to your target market.  Your target market will then be drawn to your content, where you can then convert them to customers, and hopefully service them to the point where they become fanatic customers who will refer even more customers to you.

Low cost marketing that can be done without the customary effort, rejection, and waste of traditional marketing, I can't blame you if that sounds good, because it sounds pretty damned good to me too!

Here's a link to a page that explains the growth and application of inbound marketing, and the corresponding decline of outbound marketing.

With Inbound Marketing:

Communication is interactive and two-way.  Check, that's here to stay.

Customers come to you: Via Search Engines, referrals, social media.  Yep, can't argue with that one either.

Marketers provide value.  Well, I certainly hope so, because I don't remember the last time I bought something even though I didn't think it would provide me with any value.

Marketer seeks to entertain and/or educate.  Actually, I would put that before providing value, because entertaining and/or educating potential customers is essential in building any business relationship.

With Outbound Marketing:

Communication is one-way.  So remind me, which search engines have become two way?

Customers are sought out: Via print, TV radio, banner advertising, cold calls.  Well, when you put it that way, it does sound like doing things the harder, more expensive way, which also risks experiencing some rejection, and some waste.  But I watch cable news, Breaking Bad on AMC, and from what I hear, people are still watching the Super Bowl. And not everyone watches every show, so they are not broadcast billboards seen by everybody who drives by at random, they are shows that are professionally created to appeal to a very specific, defined audience demographic.  OK, so yes, maybe it's been a while since I've been in school, but we used to call that a target market or a market segment.

Marketer provides little to no added value.  Say what? Who does that? All of the clients that I have worked with spent a great deal of time and money developing a market message that will strengthen their competitive advantages, and help people in their target markets decide on their own to purchase their products.

Marketer rarely seeks to entertain or educate.  Well, except for all of the related sponsored and community events that align with their customers' interests, all of the information the marketer prepares explaining how their products improve the lives of their customers, and all of the information those companies provide to prospective customers designed to strengthen their interest if the product is well suited to their needs, and discouraging to those prospects who are not well suited to the product.

Proactive Marketing

So it turns out that, I have been an Inbound Marketer for years, and I didn't even know it!

I have always worked hard to find the least expensive methods to reach my clients' target markets. I developed and delivered a message that included my clients' value proposition, enabling the viewer to make up their own mind on whether or not they wanted to take a further action. I've invited the viewer to contact the company for additional information (sounds two-way to me) and that additional information is designed to help the prospect make an informed decision, resulting in the prospect becoming a satisfied customer.

Yes, no doubt about it, Social Media is important, and it can be used to help marketers attain their goals.  There are metrics and methodologies available that can quantify, to a certain degree, the effectiveness of the budget / efforts applied.  I have no doubt that the proponants of Inbound Marketing are well intentioned.  There certainly are more ways to establish a dialog between a marketer and their target market than ever before, and some do work very well for marketers.  Even AMC, who I mentioned earlier, has an advanced online marketing effort for Breaking Bad.

But in my opinion, those who put out a message through any media outlet, then wait for people to come to them, will always be way behind those who proactively go out and contact the people who comprise their target markets.

Is their waste? Yes of course.  Ask any sales person if they sell every prospect, well how about 50% of their prospects, 25% of their prospects, no.  The very best sales people generally manage to sell 10 to 15% of their prospects.  Most hard working sales people sell between 2 and 5% of their prospects.  

And what about proactively pitching media outlets with a story?  Does it take time to match a story to media outlets that have a probability of publishing or broadcasting it?  Yes.  Is there a high degree of rejection when pitching wide reaching media outlets?  Well, oh yeah, and that's never pleasant.

But as I frequently say about a number of different subjects: it was that way when I arrived, and it will be that way after I'm gone.

I understand that my ideas are not going to be accepted by everyone who reads this post.  It's way too easy to read about current trends, then just accept them as fact, without question.  Most people do just that, and they do achieve mediocre results.  And advising clients to do the same thing that everyone else is doing does keeps a lot of people in breakfast cereal.

But you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.  You can use your own mind, question the authorities, think things through on your own, and make your own decisions.

What I am saying is that if you are someone who is thinking about marketing a project, and what the people who want to be your advisors are saying to you just doesn't quite seem to work for you, then consider this:

Let's think about your project, who it appeals to, and why.  Then let's go ahead and set up Social Media accounts, and fill them with posts and photos on your project that are designed to resonate with your target market.  

But then let's see what major, wide reaching media outlets are out there that reach your target market.  Let's create a message that will appeal to the editors and producers who decide what those media outlets publish and broadcast.  Then let's get in touch with those editors and producers, and yep, let's face the rejection from most of them who will not publish our message.  But then let's work hard with those who do decide to work with us, let's get your message out to those media outlets' readers, viewers, and subscribers.

Then we'll use Social Media to link to your major media outlets' coverage, while everyone else is still out there doing the same thing: waiting for things to happen.

Before I finish, I want to make one more request.  Just take a minute to think about what you just read, then ask yourself: Is there’s anything that doesn’t ring true to you?

Would you like to learn more about proactively marketing your project in the real world with common sense marketing activities?  Just contact me.

As always, thanks for your consideration!

Steve Thompson
Thompson Communications


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