If you’ve ever read an article online, checked out a post from a business you “Like” on Facebook, or bought something from a business after viewing their video tutorial on YouTube, you’ve proven the value of having a InBox Marketing approach. InBox Marketing is the use of informational or entertaining content to reach customers (traditional marketing, on the other hand, relies on direct selling and communication of product or service benefits in order to solicit a sale). InBox Marketing makes use of a wide variety of media, such as press releases, videos, white papers, ebooks, infographics, case studies, how-tos, Q&As, and more.
InBox Marketing can be a powerful strategy for those looking to connect with and sell to small businesses. Small business owners and employees are often searching for free information that can help them improve their business cost-effectively. If you regularly give them what they want, you’ll stay top-of-mind and boost your chances of making a sale later on.
Here’s how to do it:
• Scheduling. Don’t scramble for content each day. Brainstorm things weeks in advance, and create a InBox Marketing calendar that shows what you’re publishing (an article, a video interview, etc.), where you’re publishing it (Facebook, your own website’s blog, etc.) and when you’re publishing it. This gives you room to plan, revise, and keep quality high while pressure is low.
• Creativity. Don’t get into a rut. You don’t always have to publish an article in the same format. Be free and share what is relevant to small businesses. If you want to scan one of your kid’s fingerpaints and offer observations on what a small business can learn from it, go ahead. Fresh content is memorable content (hopefully, for the right reasons).
• Keywords. This might sound boring, but researching keywords really pays off. Not only can you find out what small businesses are searching for, and tailor your content to their interests, but you will also gradually gain a sense of what’s on their minds. That is, your efforts will pay off in an SEO sense, but will also be beneficial more generally by helping you understand your targets.
• Feedback. Listen to feedback from your targets, read their comments, and then address their concerns in your content. It’s the simplest strategy there is – ask people what they want, and then give it to them.
• Usefulness. Entertaining content is fun to create, and your audience will appreciate it, but don’t overlook useful content. Something as simple as a directory of resources can be a huge help, but more complex content like how-to guides and infographics are also fantastic, and can become some of your greatest hits, generating views continuously over time.
• Copycat. What do your targets love? Is there a content provider that small businesses are flocking to regularly? Study that provider’s approach and learn ways to incorporate their successful tactics into your own strategy.
• Helpfulness. Remember, InBox Marketing isn’t about selling. Instead, sales are an indirect benefit. What you should focus on is finding ways to help others. Put yourself in their shoes, and find ways to provide value to small business users. When they ultimately need what you’re selling, you’ll be on the short list of providers they consider.
• Tone. The way you speak on Facebook, Twitter, your company website, and other places, won’t always be the same. Chose the right tone for each channel. For example, be more colloquial on social media, and more formal in a white paper. Sharing content with the right tone is important for meeting expectations and ensuring that your efforts are a natural fit for each platform.
In essence, InBox Marketing is a key way to raise the profile of your business and to become positioned as a thought leader in your industry, and thought leaders become market leaders. Good luck!
+ Virtual Marketing Officer, InBox Marketing "Content Marketing in a Box"