Posted By: Mike Moore, Averetek /
Channel marketing has historically been behind the marketing curve. We need a digital transformation in the industry and inbound marketing is the answer. Much like the brands will grow their businesses from adopting inbound marketing strategies, a VAR can grow this way too. Here's why.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is a methodology focused on helping and teaching rather than selling. Inbound recognizes that the selling will come eventually, once you've already provided value to a prospect.
Rather than using outbound methods like cold calling or emailing people who haven't asked you to contact them, inbound uses tactics like giving away helpful free content that draws prospects to you, before you even pitch a single product.
Inbound is about marketing with a magnet, not a sledgehammer.
What does that look like? Here are some examples:
- Optimizing your site for on-page SEO. Taking the time to do this brings prospects to your site naturally when they search for an answer to a question or a problem they're experiencing. Don't know anything about SEO? HubSpot teaches you for free in this blog post. See what we mean by creating helpful content?
- Writing blog posts or eBooks on topics that are helpful to your prospects. Having useful and compelling content invites people to take advantage of your industry expertise before they even buy one of your products. Sometimes a reader may not ever buy one of your products, but that's ok. Others will. Check out 6 tips for writing an enchanting business blog.
- Promoting your brand and content through social media. Using social media to share your helpful content and engage with your prospects tells people who you are, what you stand for and have to offer, and establishes an emotional connection which builds trust—before a prospect becomes a customer. Check out our workbook, Social Media Prospecting for VARs, to get started.
The Inbound Methodology
Why is inbound marketing necessary?
Buyer habits have changed.
The last time you planned a vacation, did you call your travel agent or consult Google? I know you're laughing because, though some specialty online travel agencies still do exist, the industry has largely gone the way of pay phones.
Similarly, your prospects do their own online research about your vendors' products months before they talk to a single person from your sales and marketing team. Prospects are already gathering this information so that by the time they get to you, they already know all about your vendors' offerings. In fact, they've likely almost made the decision to purchase the product by the time they speak to a salesperson.
What does this mean for your sales and marketing efforts? How do you attract prospects to learn about what you're offering if you don't talk about those products?
Those who teach earn the right to sell.
People will naturally come to you if you help them first. HubSpot says that "54% more leads are generated by inbound tactics than traditional paid marketing."
Maybe you're asking, "How do I help people?"
Helping people starts by listening to them. Understand what your prospects need or want, and give that to them even before they ask, without expecting anything in return.
That sounds noble, but what does that mean in practical terms?
Before you can understand what your prospects need and want, you need to do some research. The good news: vendors you work with have likely already done this work and have created buyer personas that will explain who would be most interested in their products and why.
Ask your vendor to share these personas with you so you can understand the types of people you should start helping with useful content.
Another piece of good news: your vendors have also probably written campaigns or content that targets these personas too. Ask for that content and review it. Is it written to help or to sell? If written to help, great. Modify the copy where needed and get it out to prospects via a multi-touch campaign using your blog, social media, and email.
If the copy your vendor provides is sales-based, how can you update it to make the focus more about helping or teaching? Ask yourself, "What type of information would best help the persona that aligns with this product?"
Write a short blog post that helps answer a question or solve a problem that persona experiences. Make that prospect a hero to their peers by providing them with something practical they can use to solve their problems. Giving this information without expecting something in return instills trust in your prospects.
Once you've already provided valuable content to someone before they're a customer, you've established a connection with them. When it comes time for that prospect you've helped to re-examine the company's security software or data management solutions, that person will want to investigate the products you have to offer. And that's why inbound methods generate more leads than traditional marketing.
In the coming weeks we'll provide you with some practical resources to develop or improve your inbound marketing chops. Stay tuned!