In the last two to four years marketing activities have become largely driven by inbound marketing strategies designed to convert more online sales leads. Certainly, the internet is a great means for attracting new customers as many B2B and B2C industries are leveraging various online platforms to promote their business and engage with their target audience.
Before considering the strengths and weaknesses of different online (inbound) and offline (outbound) marketing alternatives, first you must know the answers to the following four key questions, which are required for any marketing plan. By doing so, you will be able to select the right marketing activities to achieve your business goals:
1. What is your business objective?
If it is something along the lines of “I want to get more sales” then this is not good enough. You must first identify the issues you are facing then find ways to overcome them. For instance, if nobody knows your business exists, then increasing brand awareness could become your first objective. If you lack credibility with a new product or service then establishing credibility could become your object. Setting marketing objectives provides a clear direction of where you want your business to be in the future and the actions you will take to get there.
2. Who is your target market?
This is one of the most crucial aspects of any marketing plan. Why? These days there are many inbound and outbound methods to choose from. The aim is to choose the right activities which will result in minimal wastage, more qualified leads and a greater ROI. Creating a list of buyer personas will help you to narrow in on your ideal audience. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your current customers and they help to identify who is buying your product or using your service. This information is generally gathered from market research which covers key factors, such as; consumer demographic, customer preferences and behavioral patterns, motivations and goals. For further guidance on developing buyer personas, you can download the free guide here.
3. What is your budget?
Many businesses generally seek the most cost-effective alternative to acquire new customers. Investing in low-cost digital marketing campaigns is becoming more and more popular, however, a marketing budget will always vary accordingly to how much are you willing to spend. It is important to note that in marketing you have to give a little to get something in return. That said, with thanks to various forms of inbound marketing methods, you can get away with hardly spending a cent and still achieve optimal results. How? Because leads can be generated naturally through content creation. This is why many companies that have a tight budget are opting for the inbound way as opposed to the outbound way (traditional marketing). Examples of inbound marketing strategies include content creation, email marketing, SEO and social media.
4. Which marketing activities are suitable to achieve your objectives?
Once you have taken time to answers the above questions, the next step is to select your marketing activities. As a guide it is worthwhile to find out what marketing activities your direct competitor is leveraging. That’s not to say what they are is doing is working. Trialing and analysing various online and offline activities will ultimately help you determine what marketing activities best work for you (see examples below).
Online (inbound) marketing activities:
- Social Media
- Content creation
- Email marketing
- Paid ads (PPC) ( Google , FB.)
Offline (outbound) marketing activities:
- TV Ads
- Radio Ads
- Print Ada
- Outdoor Ads
- Brand Activation
- Newspaper Ads
- Direct marketing
The most important points are to understand your communication objectives and to measure the responses you get. This will give you the key information to keep, change or cull whatever communication alternative you are using. If you are looking to grow your business online, then you may also be interested about reading how the inbound methodology works.