RX FOR SMALL BUSINESS – Content connection – Inbound marketing helps businesses find new prospects

Posted on Jul 1, 2012 :: Rx for Small Business
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Getting the word out about your business is one of the biggest challenges facing business owners. With options ranging from traditional initiatives, such as direct mail, to more innovative options, such as social media, it can be difficult figuring out which way to go.

Lauri Struck, owner of Jack’s Maintenance and Brite-Way Windows in Neenah, says that description fit her to a T. Though her business is 60 years old, many people still don’t know it exists.

“I was thinking personally about how I use Facebook and how you can get out information so quickly,” she says. “We use mailers, but they are expensive and how many people look at them? Their message can also become stale.”

Struck spoke with Greg Linnemanstons, president and principal of the Weidert Group in Appleton, and expressed her frustration about current marketing strategies. He told her about the success his company had with inbound marketing, specifically with HubSpot, an all-in-one online marketing software package.

“Things have changed dramatically with marketing in recent years,” he says. “In business, people do a lot of research online before even picking up the phone, so you need to make sure you have a real online presence and one that’s positive.”

Inbound marketing is based on the concept of earning customers’ attention by making your business easy to find online and drawing customers to your website through the production of content that customers find valuable, Linnemanstons says. In Weidert’s case, that meant filling its website with information about inbound marketing, website design and other marketing specialties with blogs, white papers and guides.

For example, if someone downloads the inbound marketing guide on Weidert’s site, Linnemanstons says that information can be used to help recruit new business.

“If we see that five people from Company X are downloading a copy of the inbound marketing guide, then it’s time to send an email or call over there to just see if they need more information,” he says. “It’s not quite a cold call because you know there is interest there already.”

For Weidert, inbound marketing has allowed the Appleton marketing firm to expand its reach from the New North to customers across the country. “It’s a whole new world,” Linnemanstons says.

For Jack’s Maintenance, Struck is using inbound marketing to stay visible to customers and potential customers. “You can constantly update your message and keep it fresh,” she says. “So many mailers just wind up in the trash, but with this strategy you can change it up.”

Inbound marketing can also help Jack’s Maintenance get out the word about all of its services, such as its window cleaning business by raising awareness.

Linking content with social media is another tool businesses can use successfully. For example, Struck says LinkedIn is an ideal way to reach prospects since you can search by companies or positions.

Content creation is the key to inbound marketing and blogs are the No. 1 way to create content, Linnemanstons says. The posts don’t need to be long and can link to other information, such as videos.

“Anyone can be a writer – they just need to find their voice,” he says. “The key is allowing prospects to benefit from your knowledge.”

Once the blog is up, social media – Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – can be used to promote it. “The old adage was that if you built a website, they’ll come. That’s not true. You need to enrich it with new content,” Linnemanstons says.

Google also sees the new content – and if done with the right key words and tags – a website will gain visibility in Internet searches. “Businesses should have the goal of showing up in the top three or four during website searches,” he adds.

Jack’s Maintenance is now using HubSpot, and Struck is excited about how inbound marketing can increase awareness of her business. “The possibilities are endless,” she says.