When setting up a business, one of the things people may tend to overlook is the marketing aspect, particularly the tools that are out there to help them achieve a key objective: getting found. If people don’t know you exist, then how are you going to do any business? Sure, you could employ a public relations firm to help get the media interested in your business, whether it’s a physical location or a Internet startup, but most of the work can easily be accomplished for much less and simply by thinking about inbound marketing.

Wait…inbound marketing? What is that?

Wikipedia and Hubspot both define inbound marketing as “marketing focused on getting found by customers.” Basically this means that whether it’s through tools like search engine optimization, social media, etc. as opposed to anything outbound where you are paying to get people’s attention. David Meerman Scott says that it’s akin to “earning your way in” and I think that inbound marketing is a pretty good thing to work on. You’re going to entice people to spend more time with your business because of its merit, not how many dollars you spend flooding them with advertisements. Cut down on the noise.

So if your business has money, then why should you just minimize that payment to an agency and not run any paid search? Well because you’re hoping on a pray and spray tactic. Sure you can have some targeting based on demographics, location, etc. but once the user gets to your site or business, what are they going to see? Disappointment. Focus on your inbound marketing and create some value for why people are visiting and then you’ll be able to offer more relevant ads that will really be inviting to current and potential customers. As you can see in the chart on the left, here are the differences between outbound and Inbound (source: Hubspot). As you can see, when it comes to outbound, you’re breaking through a tremendous amount of noise to get your message across – whether that’s through print ads, television, cold calling, trade shows, etc. – these are all traditional marketing efforts and are just pushing money out there in the hopes of some salvation of a flood of new customers. Probably not the best way to do it these days.

However, with the invention of the Internet and more widespread adoption towards it being used as the voice of the “people”, companies are going to need to realize that inbound marketing is just as important as traditional marketing was in the early 90s. These days, you need to find reasons for customers to visit your business. Whether that’s through things like blogs, YouTube videos, search engine optimization, etc, you’re going to provide valuable content to your customers so that they’ll say “Wow, company XYZ has a really good blog talking about this and that. I think I should go back to their site and read more because they’ll really help me out.

The novelty of using Inbound Marketing? You’re changing the paradigm of marketing. No longer will customers feel that they’re automatically being sold something. You’re helping to bring in people who you would like to build relationships with – they understand that it’s a commercial site…we all know we’re about to be sold on something…so why not take a different spin and provide some suitable content that will invite customers to come back again and again…and again?

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    • RM_InBoundMarketingPR

      Great article.. Inbound Marketing and social media have leveled the playing field for the little guys (small businesses) who couldn't afford outbound marketing.. They don't need it anymore.. For a fraction of the big guys outbound marketing budget the little guys can get found via inbound marketing and play with the big boys..
      Great article.. Thanks for posting.

    • http://www.appsolve.com Steven Fisher

      You are welcome. Inbound marketing is a powerful tool for small businesses. It is the theme of most of our posts here and on growsmartbusiness.com. Let us know if there is a specific topic on inbound marketing you want us to cover.


    • http://www.inboundpromotions.com/ Inbound Promotions

      Good description of inbound marketing. Thanks to sites such as HubSpot, this form of marketing has seen a significant increase in use over the past couple years. While the big businesses still use traditional marketing such as print ads and TV commercials, inbound marketing has helped a lot of small businesses with increasing leads. I think in this economy a lot of consumers are more willing to support their local businesses (at least they should be) and not as reliant on the industry titans. We have to remember what built America and that's the small businesses. Inbound marketing is a great technique to help the small business world stay in touch with their community.

    • http://www.contactcenterphilippines.net contact centers philippines

      Nice explanation about inbound marketing… Thanks for this well-written and informative blog. This one is very helpful especially for those who have their own small businesses.

    • http://www.gossamar.com Eric

      A very good introduction to Inbound Marketing – thanks for sharing! You make some excellent points regarding the failure of more traditional Outbound approaches these days. How many of your cold call messages are in fact returned by anyone these days? Unsolicited emails usually end up as spam and are seldom if ever answered, and competing against the likes of Coco-Cola's advertising budget is not feasible for most of us, but you have to if you chose to advertise in any medium they use. So the switch to Inbound is both a natural progression of the Internet, and the need for more effective ways to grow one's business.
      It may help your readers to think of the process of Inbound Marketing Automation, or IMA, as we call it, as consisting of 4 phases:
      1) Attract more visitors to the website through Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, and Pay-Per-Click ads such as Google's Adwords.
      2) Engage those visitors' attention with industry leading content (website copy, white papers, videos, podcasts). Match the content to the prospect's buying cycle to ensure you can nurture them around the cycle (see below).
      3) Qualify these visitors by grading their profiles and using their digital footprints to rack up a score and hence “know” their quality. And then, nurture them from cold leads to hot prospects with multi-touch drip email campaigns.
      4) Automatically feed these hot sales ready prospects directly into your CRM and automatically notify the assigned sales rep (based on product or territory or whatever…).
      If you'd like to know more about Inbound Marketing Automation, our website contains a Resource Library of white papers, tools, videos and an extensive glossary, all covering the above in more detail.

    • http://www.workwithcherry.com/ Cherry Rahtu

      i agree with all of you, this is a great post about inbound marketing, i took inbound marketing lessons and am currently working on my personal blog to focus on inbound marketing to provide valuable content for small business. I have a question, inbound marketing encourage people to create content like blog or videos or audios to drive traffic to the website, but it all takes time to build the traffic to see some result, especially for blog, whether it is practical to advise my client (small business owner) to write blog to attract customers and how is the required frequency?