The Future of Marketing as We Know It.
Where they read, we write.
Have you noticed that the only constant in marketing these days is change? This statement continues to be true as we look forward to what the next five years holds. Hubspot’s video intro to their “The State of Inbound 2016” report challenges us with the statement “in five years, marketing and sales and you know it will no longer exist.” (Hubspot) I for one agree with them, but what does that mean for you as a business owner, marketer, or sales professional? Let’s take a look.
First off, watch the video if you haven’t already. There are subtitles for those of us who don’t like to watch internet videos with the sound on. Second, here is a summary of the key points:
- In the last 20 years, we have gone from getting 100’s of emails per week to THOUSANDS of emails per week. I’m sure this isn’t news to anyone reading this blog but let’s take just a moment and remember the “good old days” when email was manageable.
- Yes, your mobile device is buzzing at you more now, 34% in fact. If you have more than one mobile device (and who doesn’t), then each one is probably buzzing, dinging, ringing, chirping, or otherwise notifying you of yet another message of some kind.
- 2 out of 3 people surveyed say they now use social media to keep up with the news. This statistic is yet another indicator that the way the public consumes information continues to evolve.
- Facebook users watch 8 billion videos per day! Snapchat users are over achievers and watch 10 billion videos a day!
The point Hubspot makes in the video, which I totally agree with, is that businesses cannot continue to communicate with consumers the same way they always have. None of us in marketing, sales, or business can pretend nothing has changed and expect our result to stay the same. On the name note, inbound marketing cannot stay the same either. It has to continue to morph and change with the needs and wants of the consumer.
Quality Content is KING!
Just about everything in inbound marketing seems to change and evolve, but through it all, quality content continues to be king. The more consumers get overwhelmed with emails, messages, notifications, etc. absolutely, it is even more important that the content we are putting out is targeted toward them. Content must be relevant and helpful. People use Google and now Facebook to search. They have questions. Our products and services are the answers. We have to stop focusing on selling and instead turn our efforts to educating and informing our audiences with quality content. When we do, the quality of the leads increases, which can make it easier for our sales people to convert leads to customers. Quality content also helps our existing customers to continue to feel confident that they picked the right company, because “See, they are still the experts! They are still putting out information that I need.”
Consumers are Empowered
The public has access to more information than ever before in history. And while not all may choose to be, consumers can be more educated and thus more empowered than ever before. It takes but a moment to look up the three closest gyms and compare services, prices, and amenities. A few moments more to read reviews, check out their Facebook and Twitter feeds, and to verify any offers or claims. Many consumers take it much, much farther; spending considerable time researching and following a brand before they make a choice to buy. Businesses cannot pretend that consumers will primarily rely on traditional methods of marketing like print ads, TV or radio ads to influence their decisions.
Know Your Customer
Knowing who your target audience is and what questions they are asking is even more important than ever. It is critical that companies invest time and resources into clearly defining and fully fleshing out the buyer persona. Understanding the tone of your audience and the questions they are asking will equip you and your staff to generate content your potential customers want to consume. Often it is helpful to engage a professional marketing company to work with you to develop this, especially if you need to do some surveys. One of the best sources of information is often the front line employees. Who in your company is the first point of contact with prospects? Who is answering all of the questions people always ask? These staff within your company are gold mines of information to generate content. What questions do they always get asked? What follow-up questions get asked after the product or service is purchased?
Once you know what your potential customers want to read, then you needto figure out where they want to read it. Which social media channels are your target audience participating in? There is a lot of data out there about how and where consumers want to read content. Of the people surveyed for Hubspot’s State of Inbound 2016, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter were the clear winners for business use, and LinkedIn was by far the winner for primarily business communication use. Keep in mind the people surveyed for Hubspot’s report are professionals across a variety of industries. If your target is college students, or stay at home mom’s, or young parents, then where they spend their online time will probably be different. So don’t assume all, so social media channels are the same and invest the time to research where your crowd goes for their online content.