Smaller businesses tend to view Internet marketing as intimidating, complex, and expensive. The truth is, it doesn't have to be.
For too many small business owners the prospect of affordable Internet marketing seems deceptive. They know that much of what can be done online is free. And they know that marketing on the Internet is no longer an option for any business, no matter how small.
But they have also been burned far too many times to really believe it can be affordable.
The Truth About Affordable Internet Marketing
The good news is that, yes, Internet marketing can be affordable and the better news is that you don't have to do it yourself.
The truth is that the term "Internet Marketing" is so broad and so vague that it can - and does - mean many things to many people. And to make it more frustrating, even the term "affordable" is relative since what might be considered affordable to a 100-employee company grossing a million dollars a year would be unthinkably extravagant for the mom-and-pop sandwich shop located across the street from them.
Because Internet marketing is such a broad field, it also tends to be a bewildering jungle of tactics, options, and strategies that can leave an average business owner simply frustrated. The questions can seem to be endless:
- Do I need to buy advertising?
- What about a business blog?
- Should I be sending emails?
- How do I find customers online?
- Does my type of business need to be online?
- Will I need to update my website?
And on, and on...
What's the Best Strategy for Affordable Internet Marketing?
That's actually a great question and it's the place where you want to start. If we were to view the marketing realm from, say, a 30,000 foot vantage point we would see that there are essentially two approaches: the more traditional "outbound" marketing approach and the more recent "inbound" marketing.
Outbound marketing can be effective still. Even on the Internet. However, because it typically involves paying for advertising, space, time, etc. it is rarely considered "affordable". And, many would argue, it pits your business head-to-head with every other business fighting for attention on the Internet space. The reality of outbound marketing is that,more often than not, those with the biggest budgets win.
Why Inbound Marketing is Affordable Internet Marketing
So, what is inbound marketing anyway? Unfortunately, it is still a somewhat fuzzy concept to many business owners and even a few marketers. For a great synopsis we can look to Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot, the company that coined the term "inbound marketing". He once defined it this way:
Inbound Marketing is the opposite of traditional outbound marketing (advertising, direct mail/phone, tradeshows, etc.), where you interrupt your way into your people's lives. Instead of interrupting, Inbound Marketing pulls prospects into and down through your sales funnel in a new and natural way based on how they search for information and make purchase decisions today.
Inbound marketing, or content marketing as it is sometimes called, is scalable and can be developed to work with every budget. Content marketing, or inbound marketing, is an increasingly viable marketing strategy.
In fact, a famous quote from marketing expert Seth Godin states that,
"Content marketing is the only marketing left."
Consider these statistics gathered by Kapost.com.
82 percent of B2C marketers and 95 percent of B2B enterprise marketers use content marketing.
78 percent of CMOs believe custom content is the future of the marketing industry.
Only 12 percent of companies ignore content in their marketing efforts.
Despite the fact that content is proven to be valuable, only 32 percent of marketers believe they’re executing an effective strategy.
While the last statistic is disturbing from a marketer's perspective, it also means that two-thirds of businesses out there are probably not maximizing their content marketing potential. This means that you can establish a competitive marketing edge over the majority of your own competitors!
Inbound Marketing, Content, and Affordable Internet Marketing
How does an inbound strategy compare with other marketing approaches you could use for your business?
One way to look at the relationship of inbound marketing and the classic outbound approach is to see inbound as a new approach to Promotion.
Promotion is typically comprised of all of the methods and channels of communication that marketers use to provide information about their product. This usually includes print and broadcast advertising, publicity and public relations, and other types of sales promotion.
And it usually means trying to interrupt your audience from whatever they happen to be reading or watching in order to get their attention.
An inbound marketing strategy, on the other hand, takes a bit of an indirect approach to capturing the attention of your prospects. By providing great content that helps to solve their problems and answer their questions, the inbound marketing approach "promotes" your product or service by drawing your visitors to your website.
Why You Must Have Quality Content
The foundation and backbone of an effective inbound marketing strategy is content. High-quality, relevant, and consistent content is the key to attracting, winning and keeping prospects, leads, and customers. This content can take the form of blog posts, eBooks or white papers, video, email and even the pages on your website.
A big challenge for many business owners is how to best create and publish this never-ending need for fresh content? The next bigger challenge is how to best distribute and use the content in order to actually implement a real marketing strategy?
This is where the "affordable" aspect comes into play when we speak of affordable Internet marketing. It is certainly true that a business owner or marketing manager could generate all of their own content, develop an inbound marketing plan, and implement it all by themselves.
But the truth is that it takes time and it takes a number of skills and knowledge that most business owners don't have already, or don't have the time to acquire.
One of the best solutions for this challenge is to hire a local inbound marketing agency to mange and execute your Internet marketing for you. Because the plan can be custom fit to your business size and your particular needs, the cost to you for outsourcing can be comfortably affordable.
Making Good Use of a Local Inbound Marketing Agency
The best news of all, of course, is that as an owner or a marketer strapped for time and resources, you don't have to go it alone. In fact, it often is a much more cost-effective and strategically superior option to outsource your content marketing efforts to a professional agency that specializes in inbound marketing.
Achieving your affordable Internet marketing objectives with an inbound marketing strategy also takes time. And it won't happen with a few blog posts or great ebook. People will need to consume your content for a while before they contact you. But without your content compelling them to contact you, your goals may never be met.
Content and inbound marketing work day in and day out. Once you post a blog article or upload a Slideshare piece, it is always there, working to educate and compel people to become leads. And when they do come to you, they are educated, informed, and much more likely to make the decision to buy.
Get this free eBook, 10 Powerful Inbound Marketing Charts, that illustrates the power of a great inbound approach to Internet marketing, or call BroadVision Marketing today at 707-799-1238.