Often the most challenging part for start-ups and fast-growing SMEs, looking at local or global expansion, is to get their name out there in the market and build an audience, especially when they are starting from scratch with a lean team and an even leaner budget.
Having built my own start-up to now a mid-size B2B consulting company with over 80 people in less than four years, part of the many success stories — Indian clients with India and other parts of the world as their playground and global clients as India their target market, I understand the entrepreneurial zeal, gaps in execution and vision, process, growth challenges, etc and also how easy it is for entrepreneurs to fall in love with their ideas or products.
But, it’s equally important to find people who will love your product or services too. Even if you’re in your stealth mode, building an audience base, understanding more about your target audience, their content consumption preferences and patterns, planning lead nurturing, database management, CRM, sales process, agility, transparency, and the list goes on, are few of the prime necessities to help you take your business ideas flourish.
Inbound marketing plays a crucial role in bringing control to the dynamism of business.
End-consumer Needs to be at the Center
We have content everywhere, we eat, breath, sleep, content, some of it we intend to find and some we stumble upon. Inbound marketing methodology focuses on four steps: Attract, Convert, Close, Delight.
Attracting potential customers through compelling content that is both relevant and valuable to the customer, helping convert strangers into brand advocates through integrated use of different digital activation methods, lead by content marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, paid media and email marketing.
Define Positioning Strategy
To start with, a start-up or SME business should define its positioning strategy — the why, the how and the what. It shouldn’t be treated as a task on backburner, internal and external stakeholders are easy to bring on the same page, ensuring alignment on business. One important lesson we learnt as we evolved was that you cannot sell everything to everybody.
If you try to appeal to everyone, you might end up appealing to no one. A strong positioning strategy gives a sharper and clearer direction to the business, which for start-ups is quintessential.
By narrowing down a focus and building it as a core part of your service, clients would want to work with your venture, regardless of your size or location. Also, a clear positioning helps define a business’ target audience, what they need and want and how will they be able to buy it. Inbound marketing, bringing such insights to your target audience leads to creating ultimate buyer personas for your business.
Build your Buyer Personas
Building buyer personas for your start-up business sets the foundation of your marketing campaigns whether your business is B2B or B2C, it’s the most important task. Buyer personas incorporate not only demographic data but also behavioural insights.
Decoding your target audience strategically enables you to create valuable content for each buyer persona. Needless to say, with the B2B businesses expanding multifold, building buyer personas for better targeting and tapping the potential of business became essential.
One of the most common mistakes that brands commit is that they start prospecting and selling demos to the target audience without a deeper understanding. Whereas, a more potent and strategic approach to reach out to the right audience at the right time would be to map the content to their buying journey. The buyer’s journey is the process that buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. The journey is a three-step process comprising awareness, consideration and decision.
In the awareness stage, content educates the buyers of the problems they are facing. Further, in the consideration stage, the solutions are provided to the buyer’s problems. At the decision stage, options are provided for a particular solution, for the buyers to choose from. Start-ups need to leverage this strategic approach to create highly commercial content that eventually moves their business leads down the sales funnel which further results in higher customer conversions.
Inbound Marketing Gives Results Today, Tomorrow and the Day After
Creating result-driven content that attracts and converts customers organically. Outbound gives you instant results but the shelf life is till budget ends, inbound marketing gives more value for the same buck.
Start-ups and SMEs need to plan well, to be agile and focus on buyer persona. Practise inbound-marketing for it’s a long-term gains. It creates business stability, ensures a stronger brand presence and a long-term impact.
While start-ups and SMEs should focus on creating long-term impact by pulling customers to their website through inbound marketing, they can also push the content marketing efforts with paid advertisements to generate short term gains.
Paid ads can give start-ups the much-needed push to generate profits, especially in their initial stages of development. Hence, using the right mix of push and pull marketing tactics enables start-ups to launch and grow in the long-run, generating stronger brand awareness, higher ROI and profits.
Leads are Lifeblood for B2B Biz
Leads are the lifeblood of any B2B business, one of the most common mistakes that start-ups make in the sway of acquiring more and more leads is that they ignore the leads that are not ready to pass the sales funnel, yet. These leads need to be nurtured till they become sales ready.
Nurturing is the systematic process that can eventually move the prospected leads down the sales funnel. Sustained nurturing focuses on finding the reasons because of which the leads dropped out and aim the nurturing at those fall out points.
This way you can bring back the leads into the sales funnel by peaking their interests with better solutions and new offerings.
In fact, ignoring these potential leads would mean wasting the precious time and effort spent in acquiring them in the first place, which most of the start-ups can’t afford given the lean team and even leaner budgets they have.
Undoubtedly, the end goal for any business is to generate quality leads for their business. The ultimate objective should be to help the clients and add value to their life. By doing so, you build long lasting relationships with the clients and pave way to success together.