Inbound and outbound: an integrated marketing plan

Outbound and inbound marketing work togetherThere are many small businesses that aren’t completely ready to let go of some of the traditional marketing techniques they’re used to. We’re okay with that. We understand that a nice mix of outbound and inbound can make for a successful marketing plan. The only thing we ask in return is a compromise on your part.

No, inbound marketing is not all you need, but it’s a lot of what you need. That’s because the majority of people today go online to research a company, get a product review, and learn more about a business. If you haven’t flooded this space with your presence, you need to start now.

That’s not to say you can’t also have a nice company brochure and some print collateral (traditional) or attend a couple of trade shows (also traditional). In fact, if you do attend a trade show or two, you’ll need something to hand out. The trick is getting your collateral in the hands of interested buyers and making sure your web and social media presence are printed on these pieces. You can use print to drive people online, to sign up for your newsletter, follow along on Twitter and Facebook, or read even more about a particular topic.

These are just some of the ways outbound and inbound can be integrated and work together. Just remember that once your prospects are on your website and following you on social media, they need something new to look at and read on a regular basis. That means regular blog posts, Facebook shares, and Twitter conversations. It also means monitoring those spaces for feedback, questions, or comments from fans.

Sounds overwhelming? You can always turn to a content marketing agency like us to help you through it.

Tying it all together with email

Email is part of the overall strategy Hubspot tweeted a pretty interesting blog post the other day about using email to drive organic traffic to websites. There’s several reasons why I dig this concept:

1. It’s a way to tie all of your media together
No matter how many followers you have on Twitter or fans you have on Facebook, your most engaged audience are those who subscribe to your newsletter. You should be blogging at least once a week, sharing information through social media daily, and responding to comments as they come. A monthly newsletter helps tie all of those efforts together by linking to your blog, sharing information about your social media accounts, and producing exclusive content for your newsletter subscribers.

2. As an inbound marketing agency, it’s another way we’re helping our customers see results
We’ve just started newsletter campaigns for our clients. The more we promote their upcoming newsletter, the more subscribers they get. The more we promote their blogs in the newsletter, the more page views they’re seeing. This is exciting stuff and it helps them view email as part of their overall inbound marketing strategy.

3. As we revamp our own newsletter, it’s one of the things we’ve already planned on doing
It’s been a long time since Simplified Solutions sent out a newsletter—too long. Yes we’ve been busy but that’s not really an excuse since most small businesses are busy. We’re actually going to send our first re-designed monthly newsletter this Saturday. We can’t wait to start sending out content again and tracking our results. If you’re interested, you can subscribe here. We’d love to have you on board!

So tell us, is email part of your overall inbound marketing strategy? If it isn’t but you’d like it to be, we’d love to help.

We’ve been cooking up some good things here at Simplified Solutions LLC

Simplified Solutions LLC Cooking up Some Good Stuff

So, I haven’t posted to the blog since we moved into an office in the fall. We’ve been busy though. I have evidence. I’ll share it in this post.

First we moved into the office.

Then we became a Certified Hubspot Partner. Learned a system. Launched a site. Passed a test.

Then we launched a new D.B.A called The Content Squad to use said Hubspot software.

Then we increased our inbound marketing retainers in price and scope.

Then we secured some funding and an amazing business adviser to boot.

Then we hired our first team member. You can read about her here.

Then we began building out the third leg of our business model. It’s a training, coaching, and membership site. You’ll have to wait to hear more about it. It’s a secret. In case you were wondering, the Simplified Solutions leg does WordPress websites, coaching, speaking engagements, and project work. The Content Squad leg does inbound marketing on retainer and uses/sells the Hubspot CMS. It rocks.

I also started a sales development and training program with these sales pros.

So no more excuses. Here we come. Humbly but aggressively.

We’re here to serve and to build a team. We’ll continue to have fun along the way.

P.S. We appreciate your attention and your business.

Outbound Marketing-has the ship sailed?

Want to run a TV ad, a radio spot, a print ad, send a direct mail piece or conduct a telemarketing campaign?

Go ahead, I’ll tune you out but maybe some other demographics will still tune in. You can hope people are paying attention. Then you can hope the people that are paying attention need what you do or sell. Then you can hope the people paying attention, who need what you do or sell, pick you over somebody else.

You’re going against the grain though:

Tivo, DVR, Hulu, Netflix, minimalists canceling cable or TV altogether, people playing video games instead of watching TV, poor TV ratings, diffusion with 8 million niche cable channels, Itunes, Podcasts, Pandora, Satellite radio, radio stations already boring you with too many commercials,  newspaper circulations down, newspapers and magazines going out of business, this thing called Google, people tossing junk mail, people not opening mail, high postage costs, mail delivery being downsized, automated answering systems, caller id, no home phone lines, gatekeepers who are just as busy as the decision makers, information overload, clutter, clutter and more clutter and did I mention people are busy and don’t want to be interrupted.

If you’re just another “me too” business, then I guess you can just keep doing the same old thing until it’s beyond frustrating and beyond budget. Or you could try inbound marketing?

4 things your small business should blog about

At Simplified Solutions, we help people tell their stories online and we use tools like WordPress and Twitter. One of my graphic design buddies gave me the title Chief Storyteller (obviously hacked from Chief Shoe-giver ala Tom’s shoes) when he was designing my latest business card. The title stuck and leads to a grin whenever someone sees it

We get the pleasure of telling the stories of some amazing businesses each and every day. A friend of mine Ron Stuart coined the phrase embedded reporter and it really does communicate what we do. We use new media to assist small businesses who have primarily used word of mouth to grow their businesses. Inbound marketing works well for word of mouth businesses, but not so well for those accustomed to interruption based outbound media. When those businesses use new media it often reminds me of Seth Godin’s book, Meatball Sundae. Your company needs to be built or changed to work with new media. When you simply put new media on top of an old business model you get whip cream and cherries on top of meatballs. Not too appetizing and a waste of money.

So when we do our embedded reporting, what exactly do “we” communicate:

(“we” is a team approach and collaborative effort- not just ghost blogging)

  1. We write about their story and their uniqueness. If they are just another “me too business” there is not much we can do to spread a boring story.
  2. We write about keywords that customers may use to find them on Google. We do it in a genuine way. We want to fish where the fish are. If we have what they are looking for, then we want to be johnny on the spot.
  3. We do educational marketing. We ask the sales team, the estimators, the marketing folks and the owner; what don’t prospects understand about your service, your process or your product? Then we craft content that educates.
  4. We have fun. We write about fun things. We mix it up a bit. You should too. Humor is powerful. Part of that fun is staging contests, promotions and creating engagement with customers, employees and raving fans of course.

The goal of it all is to make it easy for their product, service, or story to spread. We set up the platforms and (“in praise of slow” via Mitch Joel) create fertile ground for a community to build. This is all pretty new stuff so check back for updates and case studies. It’s part art, part science and part hope into the future. It’s better than hoping into the past though- pretty sure the old stuff isn’t coming back anytime soon. Thinking along the same lines? Contact us to start the conversation.

Social Media Workshops for Oldham County Chamber of Commerce

Over the last month and a half I’ve been doing a series of Social Media 101 workshops. Each workshop has been divided into 2 weeks with approximately 10 small business owners, freelancers, consultants or non profit directors. When I was initially contacted by the great folks at Oldham County Chamber they mentioned doing a hands on workshop one time for around 30 small business owners. The workshop evolved into 2 two-week sessions with different groups and it has been a great format.

The format has really worked because it allows me to give the participants the big picture in session one and get their buy in through some real life case studies.  The second session allows us to introduce some tools to make businesses more efficient at managing their inbound marketing. Too many businesses are “doing” social media because someone told them they should. In my experience you can’t do it, but you can commit to it over the long haul. You can’t get better at it if the only reason you’re testing the waters is because someone told you that you should.

So if I had to give those who haven’t been able to attend the cliff notes version- here it is in bullet form.

The concepts:

Inbound Marketing or Digital Marketing whatever you prefer. This includes social media, blogging, playing well with search engines (Google), and content marketing.

The key players:

Chris Brogan

Mitch Joel

Hubspot

Seth Godin

The books to read:

Trust Agents

Six Pixels of Separation

Linchpin

Tribes

Crush It

Rework

The spaces:

Twitter

Facebook

LinkedIN

Youtube

The tools:

Google Reader

Google Alerts

Google External Adword Tool

WordPress or Hubspot CMS

Twitter Search

Hootsuite

Sorry no time to link all these up. Maybe in a follow up post. Just Google them all.