Filling. Funnel. the. A small business guide to Inbound Marketing. Get found. Get liked. Get Business. By Bob Brill. Filling the Funnel.

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1 Filling the Funnel. Filling the Funnel A small business guide to Inbound Marketing By Bob Brill Get found Get liked Get Business A small business guide to Inbound Marketing. Get found Get liked Get Business

2 FORWARD By Jim Herringer 2012 The world has changed. It will change again next week The way business owners need to communicate with customers has changed. Everyone is in the marketing department. The marketing department is now called Communication & Engagement. One to one relationships are everything. Are you prepared?

3 Table of Contents Introduction 4 Inbound Marketing- What it is and why you need it 6 The Funnel Concept 7 Your brand how important is it 10 Your website how important is it 12 Social Media What works 14 Content content marketing is king 15 PR How to monitor and build relationships 17 Managing your Marketing- DIY or hire an expert 18 Copyright 2012 Moka Media Inc. Vancouver, B.C. All rights reserved. No part of this book can be reproduced in whole or in part without the expressed written permission of the publisher. 3

4 The world has changed Especially the world of marketing! Not long ago the choices were pretty limited, especially for smaller businesses. You had the local newspaper, flyers, maybe some local radio and direct mail. Then along came the Internet and websites and . Now we have social media, mobile marketing, location based marketing and much more. Large companies work with agencies to sort through the options and develop plans and campaigns that are scalable on an international level. Agencies work with specialists, SEO specialists, content specialists, online sweepstake consultants, super bloggers, video specialists and social media specialists just to name a few. Some have spectacular results on their campaigns, others flounder and fail. Best practices are elusive and subjective. What works for one does not work for another. Somehow smaller businesses are expected to keep up with all this and compete, sometimes directly, with these huge companies. Many business owners I talk to are overwhelmed with the complexity of choices, the time required to research and manage they re marketing. They have huge concerns about costs and ROI on their marketing dollars. 4 Filling the Funnel

5 We see a number ways owners try to cope. 1. Some tech savvy owners spend time and effort learning and trying to keep up with the latest marketing techniques. They try to implement what they think are the right things at the time and the results are usually mixed. They may find some success but often, just keeping up with the needs of the business keeps them from expanding on their success. 2. Some owners try to hire an employee or two to handle the marketing needs. Often this is someone junior with some experience with graphics or web site design. The right person or group can work to build your brand presence but may lack the experience to get the most out of your marketing dollars. 3. Other will try to hire expertise. It is very difficult to find the right partner or company to help you because in many cases you don t know what you need. Therefore, experts come in selling what they do and if hired will do only part of what you may really need. Great examples are the many web development companies out there that offer a complete list of services, eg.» Branding» Web design and Development» SEO» Pay per click» Social media The problem is that services are usually offered on an à la carte project basis, with no comprehensive plan or system of accountability. 5

6 So what do you need to do First you need to take responsibility for the most important part of your business, finding customers and keeping customers. Once you have made a conscious decision to make this a priority you need a plan. To make a plan of where you want to go, you need to understand and know where you have been and where you are today. The cornerstone of any plan is a thorough understanding of INBOUND MARKETING, which we will discuss in detail in Chapter Two. 6 Filling the Funnel

7 Inbound Marketing What is it and why do I need it? INBOUND MARKETING is the secret to long-term business growth. Inbound marketing is the most effective way for your business to attract and convert prospects to leads and leads to customers. It is the practice of bringing warm, qualified leads into your sales funnel rather than reaching outward to cold, questionable targets. In other words, it is the practice of making it easy for people to find what THEY are looking for. Inbound marketing is the opposite of traditional outbound marketing where companies pump out ads, flyers and other material to mass markets hoping that someone will respond, but if they do respond it may not be clear what they responded to or where the lead came from. Inbound marketing is more about establishing relationships and being able to measure results. It s all about the funnel.» Get Found» Get liked» Get Business Get Found Get Liked Get Business 7

8 The Concept of the Sales Funnel has been around for a long time, but it is much more meaningful when discussing an Inbound Marketing Plan. Get Found The Top of The Funnel Get Found Strategies for getting your website and business found are at the top of the funnel. You provide something that people are looking for and your strategy must make it easy for them to find you. There are many ways to do this, which we will talk about later. At this stage, you are not selling, you are just wanting to be found, be relevant, and connect by offering something of value that creates the beginning of a relationship. This is where you attract prospects. These prospects are unqualified but are interested in what you have to say or what they think you have to say. They have found you through searching for what they want using search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. Eg. They found you by Googling : Skiing Whistler If you can engage them with something interesting, a contest, information, an event invitation, an e-book etc. you have an opportunity to qualify the prospect and turn them into a lead. This is not a time to sell. It is a time to engage and start a useful conversation. Get liked The Middle of the Funnel Get Liked Once the prospect has engaged, ie. you have captured an address and perhaps other information you can move to providing them more information of value. It should be relevant, educational or useful, but at this point you can introduce your products. Examples might be a product fact sheet, or comparison, a video, a white paper, case study etc. This can be done in a number of ways but marketing is the most effective, measurable way to dialog with the customer. It is important to use social media at this point to confirm the prospects initial interest in your company and provide them the opportunity to discover what others are saying about you and your products. 8 Filling the Funnel

9 Get Business The Bottom of the Funnel Get Business The payoff. Your lead is now at a point that they like you and want to talk to you directly and specifically about your product or service, come into you store or talk to you on the phone. They may spend a lot of time on your web site if you have what they want. They are ready to become a customer - hopefully a lifetime customer if you treat them right. At this point you are offering them real reasons to take the next step, a special discount or unique offer, a free proposal, an estimate, or invitation to a special event or webinar. It is crucial at this point that the brand promise which the customer has bought into through the relationshipbuilding period not be broken. If your marketing and communications say one thing and the actual purchase experience does not meet the standard promised you have wasted your time. Remember that your goal should be to establish a long-term client relationship and you should always consider the lifetime value of a single client. 9

10 Your Brand How important is it? Brand marketing is the foundation upon which your entire organization and marketing campaigns are built. Start with a discovery process to determine who you are and where you have been. The information gathered through the discovery phase is essential to creating and developing a solid brand platform. Key questions include:» What makes you different?» How do you express your difference in words, images, actions?» What is your sustainable competitive advantage?» Why do customers buy from you the first time?» What keeps them coming back?» Who are your primary buying personas» Customer Analysis» Competitor Analysis» Industry Analysis For a free Branding worksheet click here We like to define our primary buying personas to better understand and define what they might be looking for and so we can craft different offers that will appeal to that group. One size fits all marketing is a mistake for smaller businesses. Talk to your customers and find out what they like about your company and what they don t like. Some signs your branding needs work. 1. Your brand messaging changes every day. Strong brands consistently deliver on their promises to consumers in every brand interaction. Inconsistent messages and visual imagery can confuse consumers, forcing them to turn away from your brand in search of one that does continually meet their expectations. If your website, signage, ads and marketing materials look like they come from multiple companies, then you need to redesign them so you communicate a consistent brand at all times. 2. Your competition looks better than you. If your competitor s message and look outshines yours then you might need to make a change. The idea is to stay ahead of the curve without copying your competitor s marketing for the sake of keeping pace. If you don t look and sound equal to or better than your competitors, then there is no reason for consumers to do business with you. Determine what differentiates you from your competitors and what benefits you can deliver to consumers that your competitors cannot. Once you know what those differences are, make sure the world knows them through your branding and marketing efforts. 10 Filling the Funnel

11 3. Your logo sucks or you don t even have one. You need to have an identifying mark for your blog or business. It doesn t have to be anything complicated it can just be some nicely styled text but without it your name will get lost among the rest of the content in your marketing. A logo helps your audience immediately recognize you the instant they see it. 4. Your website (or blog) looks like it was designed in the 1990s. Worse still, you don t have a blog. There s only one thing worse than not having a website, and that s having a site that is outdated. Since your website is often the first impression your audience gets of your business, what does your website say about you? That you re too lazy to update your site? That your business is outdated and behind the times? Time to up your game. By the way, make sure it s optimized for mobile platforms - It s Again, you may be able to handle these issues by a dedicated in house effort, but chances are you will need help. We advise that you avoid, instant fix solutions, like getting someone s friend to do a logo. Think long term and think strategic. Position yourself to succeed with the branding message. 11

12 Your web Site How important is it? Your web site is a lead generation and multi-media content publishing tool. Oh, it s not? Well it should be. It gives your organization the ability to build a strong brand online that creates powerful connections with audiences and drives business growth. Once your web site design and copywriting are complete there are significant opportunities to build a more powerful site through search engine optimization, blogging, social media participation, content marketing, online PR, and site architecture. To set up a successful Inbound Marketing Program your web site needs to reflect your brand promise, provide content that your customers want and be functional and easy to use. The essentials include» Blog» Content Management system» Copywriting» Design» Landing pages» Lead forms» Mediaroom» Migration» SEO» Analytics The goal of your site should be to connect with audiences, drive qualified website traffic and generate leads. It is essential to continually analyze, track and monitor the websites success through keyword rankings, inbound links, traffic, traffic referrers, visits by keywords and page popularity, among others. A final note, one of the most important things you can do to increase your web site ranking and traffic is to include a Blog on your site or possibly build your site on a blog Platform such as Wordpress. Many static sites have only a few pages indexed by the search engines such as Google. Every blog post is indexed and the increased number of pages makes your site much more search friendly. For a free analysis of your website effectiveness click here. 12 Filling the Funnel

13 Social Media What works Everyone knows Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Not everyone understands how powerful these tools can be for your business. Social media offers new and powerful ways to listen, build relationships and bring value to the communities relevant to your organization. When fully integrated to your Inbound Marketing Strategy, social media can have a powerful impact on your business.» Get to know buyer personas through social media research» Monitor and manage your brand online» Extend your company s reach and influence» Build and enhance relationships with your biggest fans» Enhance customer service» Read and react to industry news and announcements» Establish expertise and authority» Strengthen employee recruitment and retention» Analytics integration and reporting» Corporate account management» Daily monitoring and engagement recommendations» Employee training» Event promotion and follow up» Social media strategy» Social media policy Social media can be a lot of work but the results can be spectacular. Again, you need an overall plan that encompasses what tools you will use, who will monitor and contribute and who will monitor and analyze activity. Fortunately there are tools available to make this job easier to manage. To see a list of Social media tools click here. 13

14 Content content marketing is king Content marketing is the great differentiator - a sustainable advantage that enables you to separate your business from the pack and drive leads and loyalty. Content marketing is the center of any inbound marketing strategy and should be used to fuel all elements of your campaigns in brand, web, search PR, social media, and more. Superb content marketing gives your company the ability to:» Showcase your brand personality and uniqueness» Get found by customers early in their discovery phase» Nurture leads and drive them down the funnel» Connect and engage with all audiences in authentic ways» Capitalize on top trends and news» Position your company leaders as experts» Leverage content in media outreach and PR pitches Our experience shows that companies that focus on great content can leverage that content through various means, their blog, s, press releases and more. What is content? Content is anything unique that you can communicate about yourself, your products, and your opinions. Sometimes content can be shared material from others that is relevant to your audience. Content takes many forms.» Reports» E-books» Videos» Whitepapers» Case Studies» Guides» Recipes» Instructions 14 Filling the Funnel

15 The list is endless, but to be helpful to you it must be relevant to your audience and the more unique, informative and interesting, the better. Think viral. Of all the problems I have seen with web site development, content is the single biggest issue. Clients often say, don t worry we ll supply the content. Usually this bogs the whole process down as we wait and finally get some lame about us and their contact information and maybe some information and photos of their products. In an Inbound Marketing strategy this just won t cut it. You will need specific content for each level of your funnel. Fortunately, this is not that hard to do and often the owners of the business are the right ones to provide the best content because they understand the issues. It can be simple like:» 7 things you need to know about buying» A report that supports your brand eg. Vegan diet for better health» Customer Testimonial video Set a content plan as part of your strategy and identify a number of topics that you can produce yourself or hire a local writer to help you with. Research the topics and find content you can re-publish with proper authorization. You will find that great content will be shared and you will be asked for links by other sites if you have material of value. Ignore content marketing at your own peril. 15

16 PR- How to monitor and build relationships Public relations is the final and essential piece to a comprehensive marketing strategy. It s about listening to your audience(s) sharing your unique story, creating connections, gaining influence and building loyalty in a measurable and meaningful way. Relationships and communications remain the foundation of the PR industry but are now being fostered through social networks, websites, self published content (ie; blogs, status updates, videos, case studies, e-books, mobile apps and other media.) Public relations reaches and influences every audience that is relevant to your organization and goes beyond traditional media relations and publicity.» Analyst relations» Blogger relations» Community relations» Crisis communications» Customer relations» Employee relations» Mainstream media relations» Optimized press releases» Publicity» Social media relations» Speaking campaigns Monitoring your public relations is very important. Keeping an ear to the ground and addressing issues as they come up can be handled through press releases, social media and even personal phone calls. For small businesses getting out in the community and being seen is part of the process. 16 Filling the Funnel

17 Managing your Marketing DIY or hire an expert We have covered the various components of your Inbound Marketing Plan that need to be addressed and included to one degree or another. As you have probably concluded there is an enormous amount to know and do to effect a solid plan of action. You don t have to do everything at once, in fact, to fully implement an effective Inbound Marketing Plan will probably take a year and of course will be an ongoing important activity for your business. As it progresses and succeeds you will be able to eliminate spending on traditional outbound advertising that is not measurable and does not provide a Return on Investment. Every business is different of course, and at different stages of development. If you are small and just starting you should take the time to plan your approach and define your brand while you have no clutter to overcome. If you are an existing business and see the value of Inbound Marketing you will need to commit to it in terms of making it a priority and by providing the funding and human resources to get the job done. A step-by-step approach is recommended. If you need professional help, you should take the time to find someone who has a comprehensive understanding of Inbound Marketing and the various areas discussed in this e-book. You will want a group that will work with you over time to define your strategies and deliver the necessary expertise. There is a growing breed of Internet Marketing Agencies that are embracing this approach and are looking to provide clients just this type of service on monthly retainer basis. I have barely scratched the surface but I hope this e-book has been useful in some way to help outline this exciting new approach to Internet Marketing. Your comments are always appreciated 17

18 About the Author Bob Brill Bob Brill has been helping companies communicate their messages for over 30 years. He has seen the mediums and marketing tools change and evolve, but the fact that remains, that companies need to engage, communicate and convince. Bob has spent a great deal of time researching, studying and working with the new toolset and is a firm devotee of Inbound Marketing, and has helped many individuals and companies achieve their marketing goals.

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