There is a transformational change unfolding in the way marketing is done. It’s likely that you’ve sensed a change afoot, but lacked a formal terminology. It’s called inbound marketing.
As an Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) professional, it may not on your radar since you’re still trying to get a handle on trending issues like Public-Private Partnerships (P3) and Building Information Modeling (BIM). Don’t dismiss this concept as marketing speak. Inbound marketing is proving to be increasingly effective in bringing qualified leads to the table when practiced correctly.
The design and construction marketplace has been slow to adapt, but there are signs that the movement has begun. Will you be in the vanguard or bringing up the rear?
If you want to see examples of effective inbound marketing, keep tabs on the construction equipment manufacturers including Caterpillar, CASE, and Volvo. You will see examples on virtually every social media platform on which they have a presence.
Stop Pushing & Start Pulling
We once practiced outbound marketing exclusively. Remember company brochures, print ads, flyers, etc. The message we were sending our target market was, “Let me tell you about our product or service and why we’re better than the competition.” It pushed the client to take action.
Inbound marketing says “Who is our client, what are their problems, and how can we attract and help them as it relates to our product or service?” It pulls the client to take action. Think websites, social media marketing, search engine marketing, etc.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Hubspot, one of the authorities on the subject, defines it as “a holistic, data-driven approach to marketing that attracts individuals to your brand and converts them to lasting customers.” It’s about understanding the needs of your target audience and creating quality content that will resonate with them. Click here for more detail from Hubspot.
You can also find a shorter piece that I authored on LinkedIn by clicking here. It provides an abbreviated and slightly different perspective than this blog post.
Inbound marketing involves less intrusive tactics such as blogging, e-mail marketing, social media marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and the creation of such content as videos, podcasts, and infographics. You are essentially luring your audience by creating and sharing valuable content in your area of expertise.
Give Away Free Information?
Inbound marketing is about investing time and effort to understand and educate your client. When I explain this concept to design and construction folks, one of the typical responses is, “you want me to give away free information?” This is especially true of blogging, for example, where you are consistently sharing your expertise.
Your customer should pay for that time and expertise, right? That’s how we’ve always done things, especially in the “Land of Billable Hours.”
Think of it this way. The Internet has changed everything. We now have what I call the “democratization of information.” Your clients have the ability to answer virtually any question related to your product or service with a Google search. Furthermore, your competition may be practicing inbound marketing and eating your lunch. You don’t have to like this trend, but you do need to acknowledge and react to it.
Your goal with inbound marketing is to become the expert in your area of expertise in the eyes of your customers and prospects. Do that convincingly and they will eventually come to you.
The Old Way of Marketing
The common thread among outbound marketing strategies was that this approach interrupted the target audience. At some point, marketers got wise to the fact that the audience lost its appetite for blatant interruptions and sales pitches. And good marketers are always in tune with the preferences of the target market, of course.
Let’s be clear. Outbound marketing is still relevant. The only thing that has changed is that you should now take a more holistic approach to building your brand, which includes outbound and inbound marketing strategies.
Are you practicing inbound marketing yet? Are you still doing outbound marketing as well? How is your approach working out?