The concept of inbound marketing is based around the idea that successful businesses are really problem solvers. Customers have a problem or something missing from their lives and businesses deliver goods and services that solve the problems or fill the gaps.
It does not matter that the problems or missing elements might be frivolous – a need is there and marketers are there to answer that need.
Inbound marketing works by focusing on where people have a need that fits with the goods and services we are marketing and providing all of the information they need to make the right decision.
It is about trust as much as simple persuasion and works on the basis that prospects are guided to a sale rather sold to. The idea is to avoid hard selling and forcing customers to buy something they really don’t want with all of the baggage of buyer remorse and recrimination that can bring.
In the final analysis it is intended to be both more ethical and more effective than a hard sell and has the added benefit of reducing the need for expensive and aggressive techniques such as cold calling or mail-shotting.
The graphic above shows the process in simple steps.
It shows how valuable content is used to increase engagement with prospective customers over time.
Beginning with public information, the trust relationship is gradually improved as more detailed information is sought or requested. Generally the more detailed the information that is sought the closer the seeker is to a decision.
Staying close to the prospective buyer at each stage of the process means that it is easy to be seen as a natural trusted supplier and we can also get a very good indication of exactly when the decision is imminent.
Being close to the potential new customer throughout their buying journey allows pro-active intervention at an early stage to flesh out the detail and perhaps guide them to an early decision.
The important point is that the prospective customer is giving permission to be assisted. At no stage are we in a position where we are trying to sell something to someone where we do not already know broadly what they are seeking.
This concept therefore works well for both buyer and seller alike creating the much sought after win-win end result that makes a long term relationship more likely.
It is in the longer term relationship that customers not only buy more, but also become willing advocates in referring on their good experiences to friends, family and associates.