Inbound marketing can be an efficient method for building your solopreneur business. It’s a great tool if you have the proper skills, knowledge, and tools to make it work.
However, inbound marketing’s myriad of moving parts can make it feel like a Rube Goldberg machine (see below) — a lot of pieces have to be lined up to get the job done.
This post explains: what inbound marketing is; the four steps in the inbound-marketing process, and inbound’s advantages and disadvantages for solopreneurs.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is the process of attracting, converting, and closing new customers.
HubSpot, which makes inbound-marketing software, does a nice job explaining the inbound-marketing process:
Step 1. Attract strangers, with blog posts, e-books, e-newsletters, podcasts, video, white papers, and social-media platforms. (Content marketing is a term you hear all the time. It’s the process of using content to attract people. Essentially, content marketing is the first step in the inbound-marketing process.)
Step 2. Convert website visitors into leads, using forms, calls to action, and landing pages.
Step 3. Close the leads and make them customers, using customer-relationship management, email, and workflows.
Step 4. Delight your customers (with the products and services you provide) and turn them into evangelists for your business.
You’re very familiar with inbound-marketing’s counterpart, outbound marketing. Its tools include cold-calling, direct mail, TV and radio advertising, sales brochures, print newsletters, and telemarketing.
Advantages of Inbound Marketing
Here are a few of inbound marketing’s advantages.
It’s targeted and timely. Done correctly, inbound marketing delivers content that appeals to precisely the right people in the right places at just the right times.
It’s cost-effective. Generally, inbound marketing is less expensive than outbound marketing. Of course, you can also spend huge sums of money on inbound marketing. (And many businesses do.)
You can own the medium. You can own your website, so you can pretty much do whatever you want to with it. You probably don’t have the money to own a TV network.
It’s nimble and fast. You can publish instantly, in real time if you want to.
Disadvantages of Inbound Marketing
Here are a few of inbound marketing’s disadvantages.
It requires strong marketing-communications skills. If communication is a weakness for you, then inbound marketing won’t work unless you hire people to help you.
Inbound marketing can fool you. Some of inbound’s tools (blogging, tweeting, Facebook, Instagram) are easy for the average person — I bet you could get a free website up and running for your business in 15 minutes.
But using those tools to actually make money is not easy.
There are a lot of moving parts. Consider a newspaper ad, where you create the ad, place the ad, and then wait for the phones to ring.
Inbound marketing is a wee bit more complicated. Here are a few of the moving parts: getting a domain name, getting a server for your website, designing and building the website, setting up Google Analytics, opening social-media accounts and trying to build a following, creating the content, mastering the tools involved to capture your visitors’ information, then converting your visitors. Plus, monitoring everything that’s being said online about your business.
Limited scope. You are only reaching the people who have opted to see your message.
Loss of control. Many inbound-marketing tools are interactive, so you have less control of the message. And not all of the conversations that inbound marketing encourages are positive.
It’s easy for your marketing message to get lost. As you know, the amount of information online is extraordinary, and it can be difficult to cut through the clutter.
If you go off “half-cocked” with inbound marketing, it can kill your business. But if you can simplify the process and not get distracted by all the inbound tools that are available, it can be the biggest reason for your solopreneur success.