Whenever a client consults me for advice on inbound marketing, I start by asking them if they want the good news or the bad news first.
“Umm..bad news, I think?” They answer looking confused and a little disappointed.
“Well,” I say. “Inbound marketing is not your one-timer deal. It won’t drive results overnight and you might have to invest a lot of time and patience behind it.”
“Oh. And the good news?”
By this time they look pretty disappointed.
“The good news is that it always works. It always worked for me and it always worked for my clients. Six months to a year might sound long in tech minutes but really it’s no big deal for a business. If you are patient and if you commit to it fully, it will bear fruit – in your case, bring a whole lot of customers.”
This is when they smile and sign the deal with me. And of course, a few months later, I get an excited call of good news in return, as they share their success story of how inbound marketing has transformed their business.
Now what is it about inbound marketing that makes it so great?
For starters, it makes your customers CALL YOU instead of you calling them. It works on a philosophy of bringing out the maximum, and continuous output. The kind of marketing which, after a year or two of being put to practice, automatically starts to generate more and more revenue.
In other words, this means that your company is expanding more by the day and your marketing efforts are getting increasing recognition.
The most suitable step-by-step guide into fixing your mistakes, working on existing plans or implementing new, foolproof steps.
That’s how I define inbound marketing for startups.
To make it easy for you, I have gathered all my knowledge, experiences and learnings of the past decade into a single blog, where I will discuss the fundamentals of inbound marketing. This means that this blog will always serve as a great starting point to your journey, whether you are reading it the first time or returning to double-check on your learnings and actions. It doesn’t matter which stage of the startup journey you are in. Just bookmark it so you can return to this anytime.
It will be here.
And of course, I will be here too.
With that promise, let’s begin our journey and get to know about the fundamentals of inbound marketing and the myriad of ways it can reward your business growth!
1. Contacts: Your Biggest Asset in Building a Customer Database
Let me first remind you why you are here, and why you are looking for solutions through inbound marketing for your business.
You are here, because even though your company has been running for a while, you still do not have enough customers.
I am not saying that you are stuck. Neither am I saying that your business is at its peak.
What we both know is that things could be much, much better, and you know from statistics that your target market is out there looking for your products and/or services.
So what’s standing in between?
To solve that, we need to first ask ourselves this question – are all our business actions customer-centric? Are we focusing enough on generating leads? Are we constantly working towards improvising our content with the intent of attracting more customers?
Because often, in our attempt to succeed on all levels, we lose focus on our end goal.
Remember, our end goal here is to keep getting customers, and that includes making sure our existing customers are still satisfied and returning for your products and services.
That’s why you need to maintain your contacts.
Your contacts are the most significant aspect of your business. Make it your prior activity to keep a regular check on your contacts. I repeat – do not waste any time in thinking how to manage it manually. Get a Contact Management System and see how well it works for you, and how much time and effort you can save. My favourite recommendation would of course be the one from Hubspot. Taking it that you don’t have any other preferences, I can assure you that you can blindly trust this CMS to do all your work.
I mean, they have thousands of customers who love it and it is absolutely free!
2. Buyer Personas – Know Your Customers Inside Out
Now that you know that your contacts are your biggest asset and it’s crucial that you are always in touch with them, let’s move on to how to target them using buyer personas.
The reason we create buyer personas is to categorize our customers and place them in different segments. This is an accordance to the specific product and/or service they are looking for, the kind of professionals they are, and the kind of products and services they previously preferred, and so on.
As time and your business progresses, you can have multiple buyer personas to suit your growing needs. But if you are just six months or a year into running your startup, it’s best to stick to a 2 or 3 buyer personas for now.
Why don’t you use this tool to create your buyer persona? It’s free! Click here to start.
Start with the obvious number of one, and make sure that is the most accurately sketched. Since you already have your templates made by now, you can place it next to your buyer persona and see if they fit.
Once, I remember spending a whole hour on a blog post for startups that were just starting out with their business. I jotted down all my ideas and planned the entire content, when I remembered to check with my buyer persona – only to realize they were not my target customers. I wasted a whole hour like that!
It’s not like I was very far from it. My target customers are usually in their mid-thirties, owing companies that have been running from 2 to 10 years with revenue of around $500 to 2 million dollars. Below is an example of how mine looks like.
Do you see it?
The difference between the two groups are not much, but if you are not careful, this fine line can cost you a lot of time and effort that won’t bring satisfactory results for anyone.
Learn from my mistakes – get your buyer persona right. Ask these questions in your head: Will my buyer persona like this colour? Will my buyer persona read the whole message? Are my Facebook ads only getting views and not leads? Are they attracting my buyer personas, i.e. my prospective customers?
Ask, ask and ask till you get the right fit.
Another point to remember is which social media channel your buyer persona is the most active on, and communicating with them through that. For example, you might have a 50-year-old client who hardly uses Facebook or Instagram. Instead, it turns out he has a LinkedIn profile where he is very active. Maybe that owes to his long-term experience of
So how do you grab his attention? Get your ads up on LinkedIn and forget the other channels! It does not matter if most people around you prefer Facebook. If he is your customer and you need to communicate with him, target him.
That. Will. Do.
3. Buyer’s Journey: Understanding the Stages
This is the part that gets a little theoretical, but please know it is very important for your business!
Every marketing activity we plan and execute drives the most results during these three stages: awareness, consideration and decision.
Whenever you create any marketing material, first try to understand what kind of customers it is addressing, and at which stage of the buyer’s journey they are in, and how you can promote your content to attract them accordingly. Are they visitors? Because if they are, they aren’t keen to know the price right away. Maybe they only want to know about your product and learn a little more about your company and background. If they are already in the decision stage, it’s no use sending them any more learning materials. By now, they are interested in the price of the product, which features of it are being offered, and if or if not they will buy it.
These three stages can be related to the marketing funnel. If you think of an upright funnel, imagine the visitors coming in through that, and narrowing down in numbers into leads. On a side note, you will find this funnel perfectly segmented on the CRM of Hubspot. Again – please set it up if you already haven’t!
Back to the funnel, the conversion of visitors to leads occurs during the awareness stage. Next, in the consideration stage, we have the (i) Marketing Qualified
4. Goals – Are They Smart?
There are goals which we just sit and wish they happened and not run after, and then there are smart goals, which is what I will suggest you start aiming towards.
Believe me, you will hit it right in the centre if you plan it and want it badly enough.
A smart goal is one that ticks all the boxes of:
For example, “I will sell 20 winter products from our Facebook page within the next 30 days” is a smart, decided goal. It is specific (winter products), measurable (20), attainable (can be done using Facebook), relevant (it’s winter and we are talking about winter) and timely (within the next 30 days).
Can you write up a similar goal for your company? It can be about your service, campaign or overall business sales. Just plan it smartly and see how much more convenient it is to work around it after.
I’m telling you, in no time, you will have S-C-O-R-E-D!
5. Content – Give Value. Give Value. Give Value. I Repeat – Give Value.
Whenever I talk about content, it means any kind of content meant for any platform on any device. The question you need to ask is, are they all providing value? Is it addressed to the customer? Is it something you only enjoy creating or having on your podium, or is it communicating to your customer and giving them value?
For example, one mistake I notice small companies make is not mentioning the price of a product on the Facebook page and asking the customers to send a message instead. Why would anyone do that? It’s delaying the process and making the customer lose interest. Isn’t this creating a wall instead of a channel?
Let’s not create these walls. Let’s make it smooth for our customers and allow them full access to all the information, knowledge and content they would like to gain.
First up on the list is your website. Yes, you need one and a social media platform is NOT enough. Your customers must land somewhere – somewhere authentic. It has to assure them that you are at the top of your game and you have everything neatly stacked up in one place. A good website goes a long way in speaking for your brand, and that is your second biggest asset.
A quick reminder that your first and the most important asset was…
Your contacts, yes, thank you!
It doesn’t matter how big your company is or how great your content is unless you have enough customers, so never let that key understanding leave your head.
Remember, you need to move at the speed of a bullet with your startup and everything has to be fast, smart and done on the move. At this stage, even a single-page website will give your business a great boost.
I even know a guy whose cold email reach is higher than anybody else’s. That’s all he does – send cold emails. Does this mean he is wrong? No. Does this mean he is right? No. But he has figured out what works right for him, just like I have for myself, and just as you are trying to find your way. I have proven record of my inbound marketing tips driving wonderful results for my clients, because it was right for me, and right for them. And I will be the happiest to know it worked for you too!
So go ahead – manage your contacts, get your buyer personas made, understand their journey, target them at the right stage, set up your business goals, and create amazing content that give value – and watch your customers line up at your doorstep.
Yeah, it’s like a cycle of actions that brings about continuous success. The more you paddle, the more results it will drive.
It’s a wonderful ride to be on every day, and the only reason I am still doing it is because I never want to leave that seat or the way it makes me feel.
And now I want you to take that ride
I can’t wait to hear your happy complains once your inbox starts getting flooded by your customer’s messages!