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Published August 08, 2019
A weekly look at issues facing Wyoming business owners and entrepreneurs from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Paul Johnson, associate state director, Wyoming SBDC Network
Traditional marketing activities include advertising, publicity and sales -- approaches that are certainly not going away. But those outward-facing strategies join today’s inbound techniques to bring targeted customers into your business; give them a reason to stay with you; and encourage them to return again and again.
Inbound marketing’s model is called the flywheel, and it represents an ongoing relationship with a customer instead of the goal of a traditional marketing approach to just get the sale. Let’s look at the basic components of the flywheel model:
-- Attract. Instead of a shotgun, flood-all-the-channels-you-can-afford-to advertising approach, use targeted methods to attract the customers most likely to buy. Use social media tools to narrow your audience; attend networking events where your clients are most likely to be; and contribute content to local media and online forums. Become known as an expert and a resource within your market.
-- Engage. Once you’ve brought customers to your website, storefront or office, engage their interest by communicating your added value position. What makes you stand apart as either a solution to a problem or an enhancement to a similar product or service? Whether your business is a product or service, provide demonstration videos, testimonials or product samples. Engage your customer’s personal values with social impact statements and community engagement examples. Show your potential customers that your values are their values.
-- Delight. Here’s where you keep them coming back. First, and most importantly, make sure your product or service meets or exceeds both your promises and your customers’ expectations. Then, stay in touch -- not only by alerting customers to specials and sales -- but by inviting customers to special events; asking for feedback; and highlighting new offerings and value-added services. The delight phase is a continuation of a conversation, not the closing of a sale.
Effective marketers have been doing inbound for decades. Someone just decided to slap a name on it and try to spread the word to others. The educational publishing company I worked for used inbound strategies for years: offering free shipping; providing free, professional continuing education credits; and giving our customers free access to educational consultants were just a few of the ways we attracted customers and continued a relationship with them. Think about ways you can keep your customers moving within that flywheel and serving them in the long term.
If you search “inbound marketing” online, the highest-ranked returns are firms trying to sell software tools for inbound implementation, mostly through social media, customer relationship management and email marketing. Maybe you’re interested in those services but, given the nature of the small businesses we serve, good old-fashioned, one-on-one relationship building is probably all you need to become an effective inbound marketer.
To learn more about inbound marketing and to come up with a plan, contact your local Wyoming SBDC Network adviser for no-cost, confidential assistance at www.wyomingsbdc.org.
The Wyoming SBDC Network offers business expertise to help Wyoming residents think about, launch, grow, reinvent or exit their businesses. The Wyoming SBDC Network is hosted by UW with state funds from the Wyoming Business Council and funded, in part, through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.