Inbound Marketing —4 Reasons It Rocks For Small Businesses

Inbound marketing can help any team. But the benefits for small businesses are particularly noteworthy.

Inbound marketing: a boon for small businesses. Photo by Serpstat from Pexels

Inbound marketing is the attraction-based method of getting your product or service in front of customers that has taken over the marketing world.

Compared to traditional outbound-based marketing, inbound leverages the fact that your prospects — if they have pain points — are probably going to, at some point, start searching for solutions for them.

Inbound marketers primarily leverage “content” — that is information created and packaged in formats like blogs, podcasts, and video clips (among many other variants) — in order to reach prospective customers.

While inbound encompasses other specific tactics like reputation management, it’s best understood (in my view) as the philosophy that underlies content marketing.

In other words, inbound is about attracting the attention of prospects rather than earning it through disruption. And content marketing is just about the most cost-effective means of doing that.

Many marketing authors have cited specific aspects of inbound that they feel are advantageous. Here are the best advantages I’ve discovered so far — from years spent running inbound on the far end of the micro (single business owner) scale.

Inbound Works While You Sleep

The aspect of inbound marketing that gets me most excited — perhaps ironically? — is that it ticks over while you sleep.

A friend of mine (Shlomo Wiesen, who, at the time I’m writing this, leads SEO at Lightricks) recently pointed out to me that content formats like blogs and video are the ultimate “evergreen” assets.

By way of contrast: social posts — while powerful — also have a short engagement curve. Quickly pushed down recipients’ feed by algorithms, content creators have a short window of opportunity to attract the attention of prospects this way.

Assets like blogs, on the other hand, are sort of the gift that keep giving. While the initial interest might be less dramatic than blasting a status update out to a network of thousands, over time, the effect accrues.

Of course, in practice, it’s not exactly that simple. The internet becomes more crowded over time. Creators can’t afford to rest on their laurels or assume that the stock of content they’ve created is enough.

But whenever you create content, there’s a chance that it will be discovered organically. Make sure there’s a way to capture the interest of engaged readers (a contact form, a link to a contact form) and you should begin generating inbound leads. It’s almost like marketing automation. Without the bells and whistles.

Inbound Is Sustainable; For Small Businesses, Outbound Sometimes Isn’t

Two or so years ago, I made my first and to date only major outbound marketing push.

And let me tell you, if nothing else, it was exhausting.

By day, I identified prospective target customers based on my ideal buyer persona. Also by day, I spent hours poring over Hunter.io results to attempt to decipher the companies’ internal email structure and reach decision-makers rather than gatekeepers. I used a CRM to keep track of the flurry of engagement.

Finally the emails and LinkedIn messages went out. Then the responses and Calendly bookings came in. The next step was that there was a slew of calls — including some who I was certain were just looking for another human to talk to (I learned the value of lead qualification the hard way!). And finally sending out proposals and quotes.

For a single person business, it was an all-consuming sort of process that left uncomfortably little time for doing anything else. (Note: part of this probably had to do with the fact that I find a calendar full of Zoom calls mentally taxing. Your mileage may vary).

By comparison, inbound marketing is something that you can dip into and then step back from as your manpower shifts — or how important lead generation is to your business.

Creating content is tiring too. But unlike many forms of outbound engagement, the returns don’t dry up the moment you take your foot off the gas pedal. Those non-diminishing returns are a key differentiator from the heavy lifting dominated activity that is outbound marketing. Nobody can keep trucking 24/7 indefinitely.

For solo marketing teams, the sustainability of this approach can make the world of difference.

Creating Content Is Rewarding And Fun

Wait… writing blog posts can be fun, you’re saying?

I would argue yes! But here’s the caveat: only if you’re doing it right.

The internet is crowded. You didn’t need me to tell you that. And getting through to prospects is arguably more challenging than it has been at any previous point in time. There’s simply a lot more noise to cut through.

That’s why — for businesses — it’s not just about creating content. Not that that would be easy (yes, writing is hard work!), but it would be easier than thinking about what you’re trying to achieve, who you’re trying to reach, and what the best way of speaking to your prospects might be.

As an intellectual exercise — and without wishing to sound snobby — I’d argue that inbound marketing is a more rewarding activity than outbound marketing (Medium has a comments section — feel free to disagree!)

It’s true that there’s an art in mapping out organizational structures and determining who the right person to contact is and how they’ll be most receptive to contact. But there’s also a lot to be enjoyed from:

  • Figuring out what you — as a person or organization — really stand for.
  • Understanding what makes you different from your competitors.
  • Trying to get inside the mind of your potential buyers to understand what kind of information they’re looking for.

Inbound Can Help You Land Big Fish

One of the most powerful aspects of inbound marketing — if you asked me, at least — is the fact that it allows those creating it to really push the boundaries in terms of the caliber of lead that they can land in their pipelines.

For those with small salesforces, reaching the upper decision-making echelons of large organizations can be difficult if not impossible with layers of bureaucracy and gatekeepers to get out of the way before landing on that one high value prospect with authority to buy. One extremely powerful facet of inbound marketing is that its visibility is global.

For small businesses that are looking to push out the boat in terms of what size of clients they can land .. inbound is a powerful tactic to consider. Because in the great meritocracy of content marketing, the value you bring matters just as much as how much resources you have to spend.

Inbound marketing has revolutionized the modus operandi of countless marketing departments at organizations both tiny and … gargantuan.

But for those at the smallest end of the org size spectrum, its results can be particularly impressive.

Inbound marketing can:

  • Allow your marketing team to focus on something other than lead generation for a change
  • Adopt a sustainable system for delivering value from the marketing team
  • Do more with less resources
  • Generate leads from organization levels that were virtually unreachable through outbound means

Daytime: tech-focused MarCom. Night-time: somewhat regular musings here. Or the other way round. Likes: Linux, tech, beer. https://www.danielrosehill.com