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Stop disrupting customers and start marketing smartly

Outbound marketing is the way of the past, so if you’re still interrupting customers with your marketing efforts, it’s time to stop. Rebecca Wilson offers some advice for welcoming in the new era of inbound marketing.

SMB owners, you need to stop disrupting and start marketing.

Many of us who work in marketing industry, or the marketing of our own businesses have been subtly adjusting the way we do things for a while. But how many of us have stopped and really “thought about” the enormous shift that has occurred in how to market a services (or even a product) business?

Two, three, four or five years ago, we used to market a business purely by interrupting people. We interrupted people by advertising in their path and hoped to disrupt them from what they were doing with a loud enough message that it sunk into their heads.

We advertised in newspapers to interrupt them while they were reading the paper. We disrupted their TV viewing with advertising promoting a bargain, sale, or call to action. We dumped junk mail in letterboxes to disrupt people when they read their mail, and we used to cold call and spam email people in the hope that they would suddenly leap to the attention of our business.

This old marketing, otherwise known as ‘outbound marketing’, tries to force someone to do something with no real consideration of product or pipeline. It was marketing focused on finding customers like needles in haystacks.

Today, things are different. We and our clients are working our hardest to do a different kind of marketing: Marketing that attracts highly qualified clients to our business like a magnet. Marketing that does much of the early sales work for us.

Instead of interrupting people with marketing and promotion, our primary tactics are built around making ourselves interesting to our target markets and providing valuable information that people want to see and look forward to interacting with. We let people choose to interact with us when they need us, and we ensure they know we exist by being an active part of their online and offline communities.

Instead of cold calling we create useful content and tools so a prospect contacts us looking for more information. Instead of beating people over the head with our advertising, we create articles or blogs and videos that people want to read and offer them through our connected social networks. And we work hard to improve our search engine optimisation so that the people in our community can find and validate our capability with a few online clicks when we are referred by our peers or other customers. Community, content and social media become the key to our success.

Think about how your services business is marketing itself. Are your primary tactics still built around interrupting people, or are you starting to build community, content and engagement around your business, allowing them to choose you as a service provider for the value you offer?