I want to tell you a little success story. I'd like to help you understand the strategy that made it work. Additionally, I'd like to help you understand why the same strategy can be the most effective marketing tactic your company will ever take. In the process, I also want to share some powerful proof points with you, actual numbers, numbers that indicate traditional media-based advertising is a money pit compared to the goldmine that is inbound marketing.
I just love the company featured in this story.
This is the story of a copywriting company. Okay, it's about Feldman Creative, my company, and how I've managed to revive the demand for my services by using inbound, that is, Internet marketing principles.
First, a little back story... I've been a self-employed, freelance copywriter for 18 years. When I gave birth to Feldman Creative in 1995, my business boomed. I didn't do all that much to make it happen either. I was in the right place, Silicon Valley, at the right time, when everybody and their grandmas were going online.
You might have heard about this thing that came to be known as the "dot bomb explosion" (or implosion) in 2001. Many schemes and dreams died. The stock market descended, to put it mildly. Marketing budgets disappeared and many a marketing professional lost their jobs and began working on getting a real estate license or selling insurance. My business tanked, to put it mildly.
I rode out the storm the best I could and realized a minor comeback, but learned to live with a much smaller income, to put it mildly. I searched for clients, for new markets, for a job, for some kind of answer. Eventually, I invested a huge chunk of change and five frustrating years attempting to build another business, a franchise in the motor skill development field, that is, children's gymnastics, dance and sports. Noble? Maybe. Profitable? No.
My efforts to market both of my businesses were unsuccessful, to put it mildly. How could I characterize those efforts in a few words? Advertising. Direct response. These are the things I was told to do. They also happen to be a couple of things I know how to do. In fact, as a veteran of the advertising and lead generation business, I was able to do more of it for less because I seldom had to pay for any kind of creative services. I was my own advertising agency. I did the writing, much of the design, and all of the media buying.
It didn't work. Want to know why?
Advertising and direct response don't work all that well.
What?! Did a 25-year veteran of advertising just shoot down his own business in a bold headline? Afraid so. Did I just write my company's obit? No sir. I gave it a new life.
I haven't stopped marketing. I stopped wasting my time and money. I pulled the plug on my attempts to interrupt people with salesy messages that don't interest them. I turned my strategy outside-in. Outside-in? Yes ma'am, outside-in. I stopped trying to find customers and started doing everything I can to have customers find me. It worked.
Inbound marketing works.
What's inbound marketing? HubSpot wrote the book on it, so we'll go with their definition:
I got this image as well as the "eat pie" image from a slideshow by HubSpot, which elegantly defines and makes the case for inbound marketing in an easy-to-understand presentation. Watch it here. Not now, please. After my story. (Okay, now's okay too.)
Before you conclude this advertising veteran denounces traditional advertising media and wants you to believe every dime you put into it amounts to ten wasted cents, hear me out just a bit. I'm not saying radio, television and print advertising doesn't help build your brand. I'm not saying you shouldn't create brochures or send out mail. I'm saying:
- It's risky. You may or may not increase sales with it.
- It's expensive. You have to pay for your media and may wish you could have your money back.
- Its ROI is low and getting lower all the time.
These aren't opinions. They are realities.
When you rely solely on traditional advertising tactics you interrupt people with messages they are not looking for. If you fast forward through commercials, listen to commercial-free radio, throw out much of your mail, or have a spam filter in place, you know exactly what I mean.
Your customers welcome inbound marketing.
The marketing tactics I'm talking about, those we can now define as "inbound," turns the equation outside-in and upside down. The customer comes to you. They want information, information you provide. They want help. So you help them. They're searching for something, something you have. The customer comes from the outside, the web usually, by way of Google usually, into your domain.
How sweet is that?
It's pretty sweet, my friend. The customer grants you permission to state your case. This is the very core of the concept of inbound marketing. So repeat after me: THE CUSTOMER GRANTS YOU PERMISSION TO STATE YOUR CASE. (Sorry about the shouting.)
If you do inbound marketing correctly, you connect with customers the way they want, by giving them what they want, where and when they want it. The sweet story gets even sweeter... You do all this in media that doesn't have media costs! You do it with an SEO strategy that takes care of itself. Keywords are the new neon signs (nice one, HubSpot).
You do it with your website, blog, contributed articles, with Twitter, Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Pinterest, YouTube, via email subscriptions, via RSS feeds. You do it with press releases, primers, e-books, seminars, slide shows. These tools, created by professionals and presented correctly, position you as an authority on whatever subject you're an authority on.
It's just a beautiful thing and I haven't even got to the best part yet, the real cherry on top of the icing, on top of the addictively sweet cake.
The best part is you don't have to sell. When the customer is ready to buy, they'll buy. When you look at the infographic below be sure to make it to the final point. Notice how the leads-to-sales rate is way higher on inbound initiatives.
Now back to the Feldman Creative success story...
I've been doing these things for a year or more. I started right after reading the great book "Inbound Marketing." Though I could live with you calling me a copywriter still, I have transformed into a website copywriter and online content marketing consultant. I'm also a certified inbound marketer (and have the cert to prove it). Yes, I write, as I always have. However, I don't look for clients as I had prior to 2011. They find me. It doesn't cost much money, but it does takes a lot time and requires a lot of learning, experimenting, and an ongoing commitment to refining strategy and content.
But it works. In the past 18 months the demand for business has shot up. I have taken on about 30 or more new clients. Traffic on my site is 5 - 10X what it used to be. A few days ago, after an article I wrote about the "call to action" was published on SocialMediaToday.com and LinkedIn Today and shared across the social mediasphere, traffic on my site spiked to an all-time high: about 400% above my previous best day.
The free resources I offer, two aces of my current content marketing strategy, are downloaded and viewed as much as 100 times per day. In addition to being a favorite amongst my site visitors, the ebook I've penned, "21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website," continues gaining popularity on SlideShare, Scribd, Squidoo and UpMarket. I'm starting to field offers to speak and getting interview requests. On most days, my community expands many times over with new Twitter followers, Facebook fans, LinkedIn connections, Google Plus associations, Pinterest pinners, and professional partners.
You could say things have got pretty crazy, but truth be told, it all makes perfect sense. People want to learn more about what I've become an expert in: how to use the Internet to reduce marketing spend and expand your business. I did it. You can too. And I'd be absolutely delighted to show you how and then write your success story about inbound marketing.