I have just returned from the UK Inbound Marketing Conference where I spoke about the experience of Flexiant in the last six months, since launching Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator V2.0. Speaker after speaker discussed the successes achieved using inbound marketing as their primary activity. It occurred to me that many of our clients and indeed most of the cloud services market, including hosting companies and more substantial managed service providers, are not benefitting from these approaches.
To oversimplify; traditional marketing relies on a model whereby a company blasts its messages to an audience in the hope that a percentage might respond. This push marketing is typified in traditional advertising and direct mail.
Instead inbound marketing relies heavily on producing content that your target market will want to consume. Of course this content must be of value to the audience. The theory being that in an online world your target audience will find and consume your content. If they like what you are saying they will find you, consume more of your content and in essence qualify themselves into your sales funnel. This removes the need to cold call, run traditional advertising, build direct marketing or any other traditional approaches.
Underpinning this approach is the requirement to understand the concerns of your target market. To do this, businesses need to develop detailed descriptions of the personas on each person who surrounds the typical decision to purchase a product or service like yours. Once this analysis is complete, you then start to produce content that addresses the concerns and questions of your target personas. At the same time, where appropriate, it demonstrates how your solution or services can help prospects achieve more than they are doing at present.
To support this approach you will need to coordinate a range of internet marketing activities, across multiple channels such as email, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, SlideShare, Pinterest, online forums and a range of other channels. While this may sound daunting, with the right tools and access to some expertise, this is easily within the grasp of most companies in the cloud services market.
Does this work? On average practitioners reported that leads generated in this way cost 60% less and converted to sales at a rate three times greater than leads generated by other, traditional means (including direct selling).
One person on the podium mentioned: “The internet means the end of lying in the sales process”.
Your prospects most likely have access to all the information they need about you and your competitors. This not only has its genesis on your website and those of your competition, but also resides within the professional and social network of your prospects where word of mouth experiences and referrals influence the buying decision much more than any attempt to push your sales messages onto your prospects.
In a world where there is so much cloudwashing, would you not rather help your prospects make the right decision by sharing both your customers and your knowledge and experience, as well as providing valuable information about your products and services? This not only improves your chances of being viewed as credible and of interest, but also ensures that you are not perceived in the same way as everyone else in your market (i.e. purely interested in pushing a transactional sale that may not be the best solution for a specific prospect).
No one likes to be sold to. Instead people are seeking advice and assistance in making buying decisions. Inbound marketing creates the possibility for you to engage with your prospects in a manner that is acceptable to them. It creates value for prospects, while helping you build credibility and identify those that have a genuine interest in your products and services.
If you would like more information on this approach and how you might use it to increase the effectiveness of your sales and marketing please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond.
Have an experience in this space? Leave me a message on this blog.