As a person who has lived and breathed inbound for a long time, I feel like inbound marketing has become an inextricable part of my professional life. Over the years, I have become a little weary of the term 'inbound marketing'; probably, because I have been immersed in it.
I think the time has come to examine inbound marketing to analyze what has changed in recent years. What is the conclusion? Nothing. And everything.
What has NOT changed?
The method—still going strong
Even today, the need to keep producing relevant and valuable content for all stages of the customer journey has not changed. On the contrary, adding value through content is even more crucial now, as your competition has also started producing lots of content. If you do this well and show that you understand your customers' challenges, then chances are that your potential customers will reach out to you. Otherwise, you will be classified as irrelevant and spam.
Put yourself in the customer's shoes
If you still think that you can push out sales content in 2020, you will soon realize that it absolutely does not work anymore. Today, consumers are bombarded with more than 10,000 messages per day and if your message does not speak to the customer or address the customer's needs right now, your messages will not be seen.
That is the bitter truth. When you create marketing content for your customers and prospects, you need to UNDERSTAND where the customer is in their decision-making process and what challenges they face now.
- Does your customer need to make a presentation to management?
- Is the customer trying to solve a real problem?
- Is it because the customer's customer wants to buy more?
The basic premise of putting yourself in the customer's shoes is by no means outdated, but a necessity.
What, then, has changed?
Distribution and reach
You need to understand how you can reach your customer segment using the right channels. And to understand your customer segment, you need to delve deeper into the social channels they prefer and the (advertising) platforms that can allow your message to reach the correct section of customers. The time when organic posts in social media were enough is over. Nowadays, companies are spending a lot on social media advertisements.
Complexity in decision-making
We have said it before, that B2B decisions involve 5-7 decision-makers. And that's probably still true. But what happens when companies and decision-makers become more sensitive to WHO they do business with? When we actually start to look behind the scenes and focus on whether this company, with which we are considering a partnership—do they have ethical values, do they focus on sustainable business? Then the business becomes even more complicated.
To sum it up, it is not companies that do business with companies, but it is people who do business with people. And people want to work with other people who have the same values and driving forces as themselves. For us marketers, this means that we can no longer dress up the truth—it's time to be genuine and transparent in our communication!