There seems to be a misconception with some that inbound marketing is only for companies that have simple, straightforward, easy-to-understand products in mature (or at least well-established) markets. It makes sense that people will search online for products like office supplies, florists, or pest control services. The keywords for these web searches are fairly obvious, and the products are universally understood by the market. Consequently, it’s imperative that these types of products and services be found online, and their websites should be optimized to capture efficiently and convert visitors into leads and leads into customers.
But what if your product or service is novel or complex? What if it fits into one of these categories?
- “We offer a solution to a problem many people don’t even know they have.”
- “Our solution is complicated and difficult for the layman to understand.”
- “We have a very complex sales process with multiple decision-makers and decision influencers.”
- “We are disrupting an established market—with a revolutionary solution to a traditional problem.”
If your business falls into one or more of these categories, your biggest challenge is not to sell to your target market, but first to educate them. They need to know more than who you are, what you do, and how to contact you.
They need to know:
- The problem you help solve
- The impact solving this problem has on their business
- Examples of successful implementations of your product or service
- How your solution works
- Your background, experience, and understanding of their type of business.
In short, your target market needs to view you less as a vendor and more as a thought leader, a subject-matter expert and trusted advisor. Easier said than done, right?
Having one-on-one meetings with your target decision-makers and influencers to explain your credentials and solutions is one way of accomplishing this. It’s also extremely inefficient and unrealistic. It’s difficult to get people to carve out even a few minutes in their busy schedules. Hey, it’s even challenging to get them to answer your phone call or read your email.
People have been conditioned to believe that every meeting, phone call, and email is a sales pitch. And people don’t want to be sold to. However, they do want to be educated.
“80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles vs. an advertisement.” —Forrester Research
So what if you could build a process that…
- systematically educates your market?
- leverages helpful content to communicate your unique perspective?
- positions you and your business as a thought leader?
- attracts interested decision-makers to your website and offers additional resources for them to learn more?
- and enables you to capture who they are and what their areas of interest are?
That would be great, right? That’s what Inbound Marketing does. The fact is, inbound marketing is even more appropriate, more urgently needed, when the product is complex or relatively new, or when it requires some research or education before it can be purchased, or a provider can be selected.
Inbound marketing is about creating marketing content that people seek out, not the kind that people run away from. By publishing the right content in the right place at the right time, your marketing can become relevant and helpful to your prospects. You’ll educate your prospects and over time, and they will begin to understand your solution, your unique differentiators, and the potential value that you can bring to their business—no matter how complex it may be.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published June 12, 2015 and has been updated.