Put The Old Dog Down? Marketing for Small Business

When do you determine its time for a trusted old friend to go? Here’s the dilemma. Marketing for small business and professionals has undergone significantly change during the last decade. In general, business has begun to move away from ‘old dog’ traditional marketing to a ‘new dog’ inbound marketing. In this article we will take a look at traditional marketing and the new inbound marketing.

Traditional Marketing The Old Dog

Lets begin by defining “traditional” marketing. Old dog traditional marketing relied primarily on sending one-way signals to get the attention of consumers. When the consumer attention was peaked it then pushed a message onto the consumer without knowing whether the consumer had interest in receiving the message. And for many years (we’re talking a century) this type of marketing seemed to work.

The delivery of the message is still important to the process of marketing, but with the adoption of the internet as the main communication channel (between sellers and customers) how the message is delivered and how it is received has changed the foundation of modern marketing.

Inbound Marketing The New Dog

Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing designed to get customer to find the message. With inbound marketing a message is crafted to elicit the interest of a customer. When the customer ‘wants’ to hear a message they search to find the message. When the customer is returned your message you’ve been found digitally. The customers desire to hear the message increases the odds the message will resonate with the customer. Through this process of finding, receiving, and resonating messages a customer may start to develop a bond of trust with the sender of the message and begin to view the sender as an authority figure on the subject.

The message is not the only incentive for choosing the new dog over the old dog. The digital delivery channels for inbound marketing open up possibilities for two-way communication with potential customers. This two-way communication dramatically alters the formatting possibilities for delivery of the message. Instead of relying on the onetime one-way message that traditional marketing offers inbound marketing encourages two-way communication between the sender and customer.

The inbound message is crafted to inform, support, and enhance customer knowledge on a subject. And because the digital delivery channels allow two-way communication the message may help the customer engage with the sender of the message.

There is another important element doesn’t get much attention. And that is proactive outbound marketing. This outbound marketing is the response actions taken to ‘further’ qualify and engage with potential leads obtained from inbound marketing.

Marketing Definitions

Traditional marketing is signaling for attention and then pushing unwanted messages onto unsuspecting customers. We define inbound marketing as the origination of a digital action to elicit interest or engage with potential customers e.g. on page Seo, blog articles, reports, white papers, and social media messaging. Outbound marketing is defined by any proactive action to ‘further’ the engagement with the potential customer. This would include proactive marketing initiatives such as off page Seo, email marketing, local search management, online meetings, and social media interaction.

Networking Similarities

Inbound marketing, in its most rudimentary form, existed long before the modern term took root. When I first began in business a form of it was better known as networking. In networking (we’re not referring to MLM) people earned respect and trust by engaging with others and this trust advanced mutual benefit. Because there was an element of trust involved these relationships could, did, and do drive considerable business.

To be clear, the two are not exactly the same. On the contrary, one begins on a personal level while the other begins through digital interaction. The point is there are similarities between the two. These similarities provide a better point of reference as to why inbound marketing is thought of so highly today, and why it works. Networking is still around and going strong, but is slowly being supplanted by inbound marketing. The way parties meet and the style of earning trust changes with inbound marketing. But the core principal’s of networking, relevant two-way communication, trust building, and authority status development exists in inbound marketing.

How Companies, Brands, And Non Profits Communicate

The internet has changed the way companies, brands, and non-profits engage with others and conduct business. I’d be willing to place a bet that at some point in time you’ve run across a blog post or article that interested or repelled you so much you left a comment, or if you didn’t you wanted to leave one. This engagement with the senders message ( with or without response) is the way companies, brands, and non profits develop relationships with customers.

There is market moving ‘power’ in being able to move people into action. The relationships (where there exists a positive connotation) that develop have a greater chance of turning into trusted relationships once the customer has granted authority status to the sender of the message for the subject matter.

Like in networking, when trust is established the customer is more open to hearing the message and the call to action. Likewise, if the customer and sender enjoy a reciprocal relationship there exists some probability the call to action will be heard and possibly acted upon. Taking it one step further, with a relationship based on trust the receiver of the message (customer) may now also influence the original sender of the message with their own mutually beneficial call to action.

Relevance Core To Inbound Marketing

Relevance is the core competency in inbound marketing. If a company, brand, or nonprofit can deliver a relevant message to a prospective customer then an opportunity exists for both to receive mutual benefit. There’s not much more to say about relevancy except to say without it you will not reach the parties you wish to reach. These limitations could be detrimental to marketing efforts. Keep your message relevant and you’ll likely find success.

Quality Over Quantity

A relevant well crafted message will help you get good traction. An excellent crafted relevant message will rock! When considering content always remember the quality of the content should remain steadfast over the quantity of content. If given a choice between 100 good articles Vs 10 excellent articles don’t hesitate to choose the 10 excellent articles.

Inbound marketing differs from the ‘old dog’ outbound marketing because of the way the message is sent, received, and in the manner in which parties can communicate. There are many additional benefits over traditional outbound marketing some process related, others financial. So now that we’ve had a chance to diagnose the dilemma are you ready to put the old dog down?

For an overview of inbound marketing Vs outbound marketing you can view this info-graphic originally posted in Mashable http://mashable.com/2011/10/30/inbound-outbound-marketing/