There is no doubt if you are in business of any kind, that over the past few years, marketing has shifted significantly. The marketing strategies businesses are using have shifted from offline to online. Even if a business has not yet moved “online” with a website or social media account, Google may have already created a Google+ page for the business, or The Yellow Pages has listed the business in their online directories (but that’s another blog for another time).
Why has marketing changed?
Well, there are many reasons, but mostly because the habits of people have changed, technology has changed and the tools we use to communicate and interact have changed. But besides moving from offline to online, the approach to marketing has shifted as well. So, if you are trying to communicate with “the world” about your business, who you are, and what you have to offer-then you have to change too!
With the change in tools and techniques, your marketing department has undoubtedly felt the shift. Some marketing departments have been able to adjust and keep an eye out a few feet in front of them. There are those who are comfortable on the frontlines, trying new things and taking risks. Others sit back and watch what is happening; learning from the mistakes of those who jump too quickly. And then there are those who have had their heads down doing the same old thing and they are finally looking up, noticing things around them have changed and are seeing the need to join in.
Depending on your industry and the size of your business, the shift has probably been felt a bit differently. But regardless of all the nuances and differences there are a few core characteristics of the “new” internet marketing, called Inbound Marketing, that every business can employ (and should in my opinion).
So what basically is the marketing shift and why is it different?
We are moving from ‘push’ marketing to ‘pull’ marketing- Shifting from a heavy ‘outbound’ focus to an ‘inbound’ focused strategy. Basically, marketing is less focused on pushing information “out” into people's faces and more focused on providing information on people coming “in” who are looking for help or solutions. For more info on what Inbound Marketing is check out this HubSpot blog with 6 Ways to Explain Inbound Marketing.
The internet and the use of search engines has had a huge impact on the marketing and sales departments. Since anyone can "Google it" nowadays, the shift has moved the power from the business marketing and sales department, who used to hold all the information in their hands, to the consumer who now has a vast resource of information on their electronic device. This discussion is summed up nicely on About.com:
“Consumers have access to more information than they could every possibly use via a simple Google search. This access to product information creates consumers who are not only better informed than 'pre-Internet' consumers, but also creates consumers who are more directed in their shopping. This means that consumers are better informed about what exactly they want and do not need the assistance of a sales professional to help educate them.”
But this is also where us marketers come in. We CAN educate them and we ARE. So, to be the business people you want to do business with: Be helpful. Share information.Your future customers are getting it anyway so why not position your business to be the one providing information. You will be seen as an expert and as you build relationship, share experiences and answer questions, you are nurturing relationships that will turn into customers. And if you continue to delight your customers, they will come back and share your business with others. Sounds like pretty good marketing to me!
If your marketing department is looking to shift how it does marketing or looking for ways to maximize efforts and resources then Inbound Marketing is a strategy you will want to explore and implement in your own business. Check out our resources on internet marketing:
- Get the Basics of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Techniques
- How to Market Your Business With Inbound & Razzle Dazzle an Audience
- Inbound Marketing Benefits: Increased Website Conversion