Have you heard about inbound marketing?
If you are an inbound marketing guru, please get in touch with me… or leave a comment! If you are like me, you may have heard the term but are not terribly familiar with it. I have a friend who owns an inbound marketing firm in town and they are associated with HubSpot. Admittedly, I do not understand it all, but am trying. From what I do know, it seems to make some sense, and something I wanted to pass this along.
The concept of inbound marketing seems like it might be ideal for the travel industry and cut through a lot of the online chatter. The premise is that traditional electronic marketing is broken. Ads are not responded to, emails are not opened; in general, old-style marketing is intrusive and interruptive. Inbound marketing turns it the other way.
By creating solid content and giving your prospects the information they need, want, and are interested in, you are better able to close a sale and gain a new client. If you are able to answer some (not all) of the questions your clients ask, you will (in theory) remain top of mind when it comes time to purchase.
Let’s look at marketing a cruise opportunity…
The old way
You received a promotion from a supplier, maybe secured some group space, created a newsletter featuring the cruise, and sent it out to prospects. Maybe you took an ad in the newspaper. You likely also contacted past cruisers with your agency. All of those seem like decent strategies. And if they worked, some prospects and clients would call you with questions, hem and haw, and then maybe plunk down a deposit. It is time-intensive to nurture this way.
The new way
Ignore the people that are not looking for a cruise. Create the content that cruise shoppers want to have—10 tips for first time cruisers; Why a mass market cruise may not the right choice; 10 destinations you never knew were served by cruises; Why this may be the best year to cruise to Alaska; etc.
You will then send this information out via social media, blogs, or maybe your email newsletter to as many people as you want. The ones that are considering a cruise will read it. The ones that are not, will not. The secret is to have an actionable item at the end of your content: Sign up to get more cruising tips; Contact me to learn more about luxury cruises, etc. By giving this information to them, you have established yourself as the consultant and likely shortened the sales cycle by answering a lot of their questions before they are even asked.
When a prospect or client contacts you from the content you have created, you know that there is more than a passing interest. If they are not immediately interested, they may retain your information for when they are interested.
I mentioned HubSpot earlier and several years ago when I was trying to learn all I could about social media, they were huge. Everywhere I turned there was a “white paper” or blog post about how to do this or that. With each one, they offered more information for free—all I had to do was give them my email address and a little bit about me and they would email a PDF right away. I learned a lot.
Unfortunately for them, my business cannot afford their marketing program (ultimately what they are selling) so I was able to just keep the information. But there was no real cost to them—they produced the information and it was useful to me. If my business grows to the point when I can afford a plan like theirs, they will be my first call.
Seems like a win-win to me.
Has anyone looked into inbound marketing? Let me know!