Inbound marketing is the method by which you create tailored content that attracts (pull) your Ideal Customer Profile / Avatar.
While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they did not request, inbound marketing forms connections they’re looking for and solves problems they currently experience and are looking for solutions to.
Do you know the phrase “Content is king”? It’s true, if you got the right content and it’s created for the right ideal customer.
Once you have this strategy in place, then the content can convert. But without the strategy, you’re just providing free entertainment for the world.
This model of marketing is well known in the online software industry and now gets adopted by more and more conventional service and manufacturing industries for good reasons. It works.
The benefits are many, it helps sales reduce cold-calling (which we are sure no one will be missing, as well as the people on the receiving end), the sales force will focus on qualified prospects that have a need and interest right now, which means a shorter sales cycles, and faster sales growth for the company. What’s not to like?
So what does inbound marketing and lead generation look like for conventional B2B companies?
Start with your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile/Avatar)
Get this part wrong and everything falls apart.
One of the major challenges in getting your inbound marketing to work and convert is that we really do need to narrow it down to a very specific ideal customer profile to really understand their challenges and their desired outcome.
So if you had to pick ONE customer type, who would it be?
Who customer profile is the best fit for your company?
- What industry are they in?
- What is their revenue level, amount of employees?
- How many of your services do they buy?
- What is the lifetime-value they represent for your business (order size, purchase frequency, length of relationship)?
- What is your cost of servicing them?
Sales, service, and accounting are bound to have each their opinion on who is the “best” type of customer, but to get the full picture you should all get together. Bring the numbers to your joint meeting and prepare for an eye-opening experience.
Once you have agreed on what the “ideal customer” profile looks like, you can become razor-sharp on their biggest struggles, how your content and solution helps them solve it, and what “bribes” you can offer for the prospects to engage with you online.
If you are already engaged in inbound marketing, then you have probably heard phrases like “ideal customer”, “avatar”, and “persona”. So just to clarify, an “ideal customer” is NOT a “persona”. An “ideal customer” is a group or organization and the “persona” is a person, e.g. the CEO, CFO, or Marketing Manager within the “ideal customer”.
What Are The Five Biggest Frustrations?
Get clear on what struggles your ideal customer is experiencing and what the pains associated with the struggle are, so that you can teach them how to solve them.
What are the FIVE frustrations of your ideal customer is experiencing?
If you could be a fly on the wall of your ideal customer “Diamond Company” and how “Michael” (CEO) are complaining about the challenges and problems they have in his business, what would they be?
- Lead / demand generation
- Customer churn
- Team management
For each of these frustration flows, determine what the associated “pains” are, so you show that you can describe it for “Michael” and show how he solves it using your solution.
If you for each of the five areas of frustrations can identify 10 associated “pains” that Michael is experiencing, that is your first 50 pieces of content.
Teach to Solve
What are the 5-10 types of “problems” that you can use to create content that will really help “Michael” better understand their struggle and how to solve it?
Involve sales and ask your current ideal customers
A great approach to this is asking some of your current customers that fit your ideal customer profile. You may want to Involve your colleagues in sales and include a few of your current ideal customers in the process, to help you with the process of understanding the largest “problems” related to one of “Michael’s” big struggles.
Often times we tend to use internal lingo which can create a barrier to understanding our content, so it’s important that you during the ideal client interviews take note of their lingo.
Now that you have narrowed down who your ideal customer is, it will be easy to create your content and describe their desired outcome, the “problems” they are experiencing, and how to solve them. You can even choose to use their examples to make it easier to read and understand.
Offer a Bribe
What could you offer the ideal customer that they would be excited to get their hands on?
Pick the one or two biggest “problems” your ideal customer has for a given “struggle”.
If “sales” is a major struggle, then the two biggest “pains” could be “order size too small” or “high churn”.
What content could you create for a prospective ideal customer if the “pain” is “high churn”?
Offering a guide on “How to retain your customer” could be a valuable piece of content where the prospect can learn how pricing, support and delivery can improve customer retention and increase sales.
The more you can make your content Simple, Actionable, Goal-oriented and Easy the more downloads and engagement you will get.
A checklist, worksheet, or “blueprint” is simple and something your prospects can get started on. With a link, you can take the prospect back to the content page on your website if your prospect needs clarification or read the content again.
Ideas for structuring your downloadable content (lead magnet)
- Position yourself and your service and how it helps your customers
- Explain to the prospect, how they solve the problem.
- Call-to-Action: Click to start a “trial”, “get free assessment”, “schedule a demo”.
Remember to always have a call-to-action inside your downloadable content as it’s being shared around and make sure you have your tracking code included.
Don’t forget to set up a remarketing campaign
Your Ideal Customer will in most cases be visiting your website for research, reviews, price and payment options, warranty and service details before reaching out. You want them to come back.
Make sure you capture their contact details, as they download one of your valuable guides, and have a remarketing pixel on the page so they get included in your remarketing campaign in the relevant channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Display, etc.
Full Funnel Tracking
If you are not measuring you are only practicing – Coach John Wooden.
Ever received one of those emails from a company you are considering, suggesting other relevant content based on what you downloaded last time you visited?
Marketing automation tools like Salesforce/Pardot and Hubspot can provide you with exactly that.
With a marketing automation tool, you get the ability to track and automate your email follow-up campaigns. These tools also provide you with the ability to report on your inbound marketing, score your leads, and send personalized follow-up emails based on their last visit or action on your website. This allows you to double-down on what works, see which content and lead magnets leads to sales and scale your lead generation activities.