As a marketing agency, we speak to lots of business owners. Increasingly, business owners realise that they need to invest in inbound, or have their marketshare stripped away from them piece-by-piece. Some of the people we speak to just haven't quite got it yet, though, and the 5 naive comments I share with you today haunt us time and time again in our discussions. Don't get caught out saying these yourself!
1. "Our customers don't look for our products or services on the internet"
No matter what you're selling, your potential customers will search for solutions to their problems online. Your services or products could solve these problems. The State of Demand Generation 2013 highlights this, indicating that 80% of B2B buyers start their product research online, with a search engine, like Google. Whether you sell storage tanks, IT consulting or Payroll services, your potential customers are making searches that could introduce them to your company. That is, if you publish & distribute the right content online. We've yet to come across an industry where people never search for solutions to their business problems online.
2. "All of our customers come via word-of-mouth, we don't need a website or inbound marketing"
Word-of-mouth is great. In fact, it's one of the best marketing methods out there. The best leads your business will get, are when you delight a customer, and your customer goes on to introduce a friend or colleague to you. The problem with being solely reliant on word-of-mouth marketing is twofold, though:
- You're restricting the rate you can grow. You will only ever grow slowly, as it takes time for word-of-mouth to really pick up. In the end, your customers have a personal or professional network that's only so big. If you're selling custom conveyer belt systems, it's quite likely your customer is only going to know a limited number of people who may also be interested in replacing their conveyor belt system, too.
- You restrict the impact of your word-of-mouth marketing by not having a website or inbound marketing strategy. One of the first things I do when a friend or colleague recommends a product/service to me is to do a search for that company. If they don't have a website, I'll often forget about them. It takes a truly exceptional recommendation for me to take the hassle of phoning up a company and speaking to them when they have no website available for me to look at first. All modern companies should be sharing content online, to prove their experience, educate prospects and build trust.
3. "Blogging doesn't work, we've already tried it"
Whenever someone has said this to me, I immediately know that their blog suffered at least one of these three problems. If blogging doesn't drive targeted traffic to your website, you're almost definitely doing it wrong. Check out this free report to uncover the data behind how often you need to blog to generate the traffic and leads your business needs.
4. "We've had to reduce costs and can't afford to spend any money on our inbound marketing"
The problem with this is that it's to some extent cutting off your nose to spite your face. By failing to invest in your marketing, you're failing to invest in driving new business, which in turn will result in your business failing to grow, and improving its cashflow position. There's nothing wrong with streamlining your marketing investment and reducing waste, but make sure that in cutting your costs you don't make the problem worse.
5. "Everyone is our target market, we target all people with our website and content"
My response to this one can be summed up with one, rather apt meme:
No business targets everyone. Not. A. Single. One. Every business has a specific target market that their product/service is aimed at, from your local baker to Apple. It's important that you understand the individual customer types you are targeting, so that you can produce the content that resonates with them, and drives them to purchase from you. Until you are willing to accept that you cannot create a marketing strategy that targets "everyone", you will forever end up treading water.
If you haven't decided on which segments of "everyone" you're going to target, then you need to take your thinking back to the drawing board. There's nothing to stop you building a marketing strategy that initially targets a very small subset of buyers with your inbound marketing, and adding new buyer personas as time goes on and your business grows. In fact, we almost always recommend this approach to smaller businesses.
So that's it for our 5 naive things business owners say about inbound marketing. There's many more out there, and it'd be great to hear some of your favourites in the comment section below. If you're guilty of some of the above, don't worry. Spend some time learning more about inbound marketing, and come to understand how your business can increase its sale in doing so. You'll be one step ahead of your competitors, many of which are probably sitting there repeating the statements above.