If you are a small business owner or solopreneur, you know how challenging it can be to run your business and market it effectively, too. The cost of direct advertising, telemarketing, TV advertising, participating in trade shows, and placing ads in newspapers, trade journals, and the yellow pages can be prohibitive.
If you-like me-are a change agent whose goal is to make a difference in the world by providing transformational products and services, you have another challenge: Many of these traditional means of marketing make you feel uncomfortable because accosting strangers and begging them to buy your services just does not feel compatible with the way you want to conduct your business.
Fortunately, the Internet has provided us with a wonderful alternative.
In contrast to the outbound marketing strategies mentioned above, inbound marketing strategies involve meeting people on the web and developing a relationship with them. When they indicate they have a challenge or question you can resolve, you will easily share your knowledge with them. This naturally joins them to your website, where many will decide of their own accord to become clients.
All of these fees much better to us as change agents than running after strangers, interrupting their activities with intrusive ads and calls, and begging them to try our services.
But there are some challenges, too.
In contrast to expensive outbound marketing strategies, seo”>inbound marketing techniques are low-cost. In fact, many of them are completely free. But to manage them successfully, they require time, commitment, consistency and a willingness to learn new technology. They also require the willingness to listen to others and develop a sincere dialogue with them.
What do seo”>inbound marketing strategies consist of?
At the heart is a small business website that addresses the needs of two audiences: human visitors and search engine visitors. To meet the needs of your human visitors, your site needs to be clear, well designed, free of jargon, and easy to navigate. It also needs to focus on the needs of a targeted audience and provide them with the answers and solutions they seek.
The goal of search engines is to bring back the best, most accurate solutions for the searches that people conduct online. To meet this need, therefore, each page of your website must be built around a unique set of keywords placed in strategic locations in your page code, such as your page title, description, and alt tags, as well as in your links, headings and body copy.
Another aspect that is critically important is how many links point to your site from other high quality websites. Search engines are really impressed when people like your site so much they create a link to it; as a result, they will rank you much higher in search results than comparable sites with fewer links.
What this means to you as a small business owner is that developing a robust, ongoing keyword research and link building program plays a critical role in your seo”>inbound marketing strategy.
As I mentioned above, the foundation of this new type of marketing is relationship-building and information creation and sharing. Therefore, additional seo”>inbound marketing strategies include writing a blog, participating actively in social media (especially Twitter and Facebook), and developing and publishing marketing content such as articles, white papers, news releases and eBooks. Each of these strategies helps to build relationships and establish you as a trusted, caring expert in your field.
Obviously, if you are small business owner who is also a change agent, such strategies offer you a wonderful-and eminently compatible-solution to your marketing challenges.
Want to learn more?
For more information about this new marketing paradigm, check out The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott; Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media) by Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah, and David Meerman Scott; and Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone. by Mitch Joel