If you have a b2b business, you probably realize by now that leads do not generate themselves. Generating leads online is hard, and like Scott Pilgrim you are basically against the world. Your potential customers have million of sites just like yours clamoring for their attention, a limited attention span, and they don’t like being marketed to. In this age of TiVo and instant gratification your potential customers don’t watch commercials and they sure are not going to click on your banner ads.
In fact, customers are more likely to complete Navy SEAL training than to click on your banner ad – and Navy Seal training is really hard! So how do you reach this flustered, busy, fickle group of potential customers to garner the leads that your company needs to thrive and grow? The answer is inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is a methodology where a company provides valuable content to potential customers with the expectation that the potential customers will be drawn in to the marketing funnel. Here at Majux we have b2b businesses that we provide inbound marketing services for, and find the methodology works (really well!). I would like to provide you with three reasons why we love inbound marketing for b2b lead generation and you should too.
1. Inbound Marketing Provides Value
Imagine, instead of standing there with your hand out when your potential customer walks by you, you instead offer real value to them. Potential customers are more likely to respond positively when your business offers them value, rather than takes value from them. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer, if you are considering a business to hire, would you rather work with one that provides value or takes value? Give the potential customer an eBook, a webinar, or a free consultation to build positive brand perception. As you provide value, you build a relationship with these people and they see you as a trusted source. Some real life examples of businesses that provide value through inbound marketing (and get results) include:
- HubSpot with their Inbound Marketing Academy
- seoMOZ with their Beginners Guide to SEO (over a million views)
- UnBounce with their Noob Guide to Online Marketing
2. Inbound Marketing is Romantic
B2B purchases are often part of a longer sales cycle and customers think about potential implications in ways that B2C customers often do not. These major purchases may effect whole organizations and can cost millions of dollars. For these reasons the B2B sales cycles is significantly longer than theB2C sales cycle. Inbound marketing works with this longer sales cycle. With the B2B sales cycle signing a new customer is a major commitment that is a bit like trying to find, romance, and marry your one true love. I would like to compare the romantic/marrying “sales cycle” with the lead based sales cycle (This is probably why I didn’t have many girlfriends in high school).
Here is the inbound methodology broken down by B2B sales cycle and romance:
- Romance: The first time you meet the person you (more than likely) wouldn’t immediately say, “Let’s get married”. You would probably ask them out on a date where you will provide a valuable and fun time. You are just looking for a small commitment.
- Inbound Marketing: The first time a visitor comes to your site, you should probably not ask them to sign a contract immediately. You should provide valuable and insightful blogs that show your companies character. Even the famed “contact us” page is scary – visitors don’t know what will happen when they contact you? Will they get an email? Will an annoying sales guy with slicked back hair call them, and refer to them as “chief” the whole time?
- Romance: You go on a couple of dates and on each one you show your real personality and provide valuable company. You are building your relationship, and you both invest time with each other. At some point you are ready to go for the kiss.
- Inbound Marketing: Your potential customer continues to come to the site and reads the blog, which provides valuable insight. At some point they click on your call to action and are ready to “go steady”, download your webinar, and become a lead.
- Romance: The dates went well and you built up a relationship with this person. Once you are feeling great about this relationship at some point you ask “Will you marry me? After all of the time you have both invested in each other, and the great shared experiences she says yes.
- Inbound marketing: The eBooks are great and the Webinar went really well. At some point the customer has received so much value that they ask “Will you be my service provider”. After all of the relationship building, your company is ready for this commitment.
This longer “sales cycle” seems to work for both inbound marketing as well as romance. I see too many sites that basically just say, “Sign Up Now!” Where is the romance?
3. With Inbound Marketing, You Get To Use the Inbound Marketing Methodology
Saying With Inbound Marketing, You Get to Use the Inbound Marketing Methodology seems as obvious as saying that post game interviews with Richard Sherman are interesting. However, I would like to dig this statement a little bit. The inbound marketing methodology is unique from what I have come across in my digital marketing career in that it is so focused on people. With PPC and SEO I really had to play Google’s game. Putting keywords in certain locations, updating landing pages for quality score, and creating link bait were all ways I tried to appease the mighty Google. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it did not. However, in the end I was essentially trying to please a robot and anyone who has seen Short Circuit knows how frustrating that can be. With the inbound methodology you work with Google, but it is so much more aimed at your customers aka REAL PEOPLE. In fact every single strategy and tactic you create is aimed at an ideal customer called a user persona. This different frame of mind creates a much more satisfying situation for both the marketer and the customer.