Inbound Marketing: You Should’ve Started Years Ago

Brian Bennett

Brian Bennett

STIR | President
Jul 21

For small businesses, the golden age of marketing is today.

A paradigm shift in the way we approach our work as marketers has given smaller companies a leg up. Today, a small company can feasibly compete with global corporations. In the old days, you needed big money to be in the game. Now, businesses can compete on ideas.

How is this possible? The answer: inbound marketing. Done right.

Maybe you’ve heard about inbound marketing. Maybe you’ve considered it for your organization but haven’t taken the leap yet. The sooner you make the move, the sooner you’ll build a long-term strategy that’s proven to establish your brand as a thought leader and eventually generate leads and ROI.

First, a quick definition: inbound marketing is the leveraging of creative content and other complementary marketing materials to attract potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for attention in the open marketplace. It’s the inverse of outbound marketing (traditional advertising). With inbound marketing, you move from being the advertiser to being the publisher.

Think of traditional advertising as “renting” an audience. You do this through buying a TV spot, for example. You only get to run your ad once or twice, or for however long your media buy lasts. The audience, however, is interested in the TV show’s content—not the content on your spot.

With inbound marketing, you own the audience. They’re interested in your content. You become the publisher, creating content that brings your audience directly to you. That audience may not convert right away, but they often become brand enthusiasts.

Inbound marketing does require some investment, mostly in time and software, such as Hubspot or Marketo, for tracking and organizing campaigns. It does not require the massive investment at the level of a national advertising campaign. For small and mid-size businesses, the potential for ROI is huge.

Big companies are slow to adapt. Most are still following the traditional advertising model, and most won’t pick up on inbound marketing techniques until much later. For small companies, the time to start inbound is now.

So, how do you get started? It may seem daunting at first; blog posts, whitepapers, e-newsletters and other great content pieces take time to produce. Success in inbound marketing won’t happen overnight. To get started and build an audience, a smart company will “rent to own”: use a mix of traditional marketing to promote your inbound marketing efforts. Eventually, you will own your audience, but it requires a combination of strategic techniques to get there.

If you’re still not convinced that now is the time to start inbound marketing, consider this:

  • Inbound is the future. You’re already behind the curve if you haven’t started an inbound marketing program. Each category and each brand is unique, and you will learn over time to become more efficient, prolific and productive by trial and refinement. Each brand will have a learning curve. The sooner you begin, the sooner you will improve.
  • You have everything to gain. By optimizing your efforts each quarter, your returns will increase. You will quickly pay for the software and then cover the cost of internal and/or agency time. The sooner you begin, the sooner you are in the black—growing your business and making money at an accelerated rate.
  • You’ll become a leader in your category. You are in competition for the hearts and minds of the people that make up the marketplace for what you sell. As you perfect your content strategies, you will win the audience and be perceived as a thought leader in your industry. That alone means business. Is it ever too soon to establish leadership?

We are at a tipping point in the evolution of marketing, and inbound marketing is an opportunity for small fish to swim in the same ponds as the big fish and not only compete, but thrive. Take the lead in your industry—timing is critical, and if you start now, you can truly relish in the golden age of marketing.

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