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.

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.

Stop majoring in the minors with your website

If you major in the minors you’ll never get online. You’ll be too focused on the things that matter to you. Which means they probably won’t be the things that matter to your customers.

Do you think your customers are worried about fonts, pop, edge or  padding?

Are they sitting around thinking about your logo? Your header?

Are they consumed with the color of your website background?

Do you think they make their purchasing decisions based on these factors? I say no.

I think the design is very important. I think they want to see something professional, assuming others showed up in their Google search. If you were the only one, chances are they were thrilled that someone local showed up at all.

So stop majoring in the minors and start focusing on bottom line results.

  • Is my site live and can customers and prospects find me?
  • Is the organization and navigation good?
  • Do the graphics work?
  • Can customers and prospects contact you through your site?
  • Can customers and prospects connect with you on social media via your site?
  • Can customers and prospects make buying decisions with the content on your site?
  • Can customers educate themselves on your products or services via your blog?
  • Can customers and prospects learn about you, your team, your company and your uniqueness?

Leave the rest of the stuff to refinement. It’ll give you something to tweak after you launch.

The race to build tribes

It seems like with this down economy we are all in a race to build the most connected tribes in the quickest possible fashion.

It reminds me of twitter. I know a secret way to get 8 million followers in 30 days. It’s not a secret but simply a concession. Anyone who has 25,000 followers can look at me and say he only has 180 followers. How can he tell anyone how to use social media? When I started using Twitter I decided that I would wait a while to start seeking out people to follow. Those who were interested in me for what I was tweeting about could follow me and I would evaluate them to see what we had in common. Then I would follow. Now I’m more proactive but still let things happen more often than not. I set limits because I don’t know that I can have relationships with thousands of followers.

If I would have went mad with Twitter like most everyone else, I could have 20,000 followers by now. Most people or at least a high percentage will follow you back because it’s all about ego. So if you follow enough they will follow you back. What is so big about that trick?

Who can get the most followers? I’m not interested in that as much as I’m interested in finding people who share my likes, then taking time to connect with them and build meaningful personal and business relationships.

I’m into conservative/libertarian politics, organization, productivity, sports-especially golf, Christian faith, WordPress, Social Media tools, communication, chiropractic care, natural healthcare and supplements to name a few. If you are interested in these things I’d love to see what you’re posting and I’d love to interact. If not then I’d probably just be trying to sell you something- wouldn’t I?

I live in Louisville KY so those on Twitter locally interest me as well.

I have some other social networks I’m involved with like Tumblr, Ning and Facebook. I have an interest in finding people on Twitter who are also in these spheres.

I like to learn about new things and so sometimes I like to follow people on Twitter to gain knowledge or insights.

Building your tribe is a great idea and a worthy goal. If you are a small business, non profit or ministry; why don’t you start by pointing your customers to these social media tools? You already have a pretty cool tribe- they just didn’t get directions to the new meeting place. Twitter or Ning or Stumble Upon or Tumblr or Vimeo or Facebook or Flickr.

The tools are never the key

Whether you buy the new tool, pay to have the new service installed, or order the new gadget; you still have to learn to use it before you’ll get results. How many times to we purchase something and not get the full value out of it? How often does the potential of the technology we have sit idle like the marvelous untapped mineral resources in South America?

I explain in this video how it’s not just about setting up or buying the tool. You’ve got to use it.

Visible and Imperfect vs Invisible and Pefect

You choose. Gary V doesn’t seem to fret to much about the quality of his videos, and he’s one of the most sought after and visible entrepreneurs today. Seth Godin has a top 20 ranked blog in the world according to Technorati and the # 1 marketing blog. Seth makes the occasional punctual error and misspelling. I believe that 55 out of 100 people can read this article even though …..

Acres of Diamonds

This lesson for small businesses and non profits is from Dr. Russell Conwell’s famous little book “Acres of Diamonds”. Take a few minutes and see how it applies to what you’re doing or not doing. Don’t miss this one!

It’s not your customers job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don’t have a chance to forget you – Patricia Fripp

Day in the life of Social Media Guy

It’s time to stop screwing around and let’s get to work using these tools to help solve problems and make profits. I’m guilty, you’re guilty- we’re probably all guilty if you’re reading this post. This video was a little parody I did last night. Hat tip: INXS – I Need you Tonight in the background.

Day in the life of Social Media Guy from Bryce Raley on Vimeo.

Here is a little idea of what people on Twitter have been saying lately. This is a must see list.