We were meeting yesterday with an insurance company executive who was very interested in learning more about how Inbound Marketing really works. Not the mechanics of how it works. He had downloaded some of our content, and had visited HubSpot's website and seen how the technology performed. No, he was interested in learning how it works as an influence on human behavior.
Great question! As I answered his question I saw my colleague Frank scribbling some notes, and then completely forgot about it. After the meeting Frank followed me into my office and said "You should blog about something you said to Tim." Since I don't always hear everything I'm saying I had to ask for Frank's help. "About relationships" he said. "We've never blogged about how Inbound Marketing helps grow relationships with prospects. That's a great subject!"
As usual Frank was right on both counts.
Here's what I said, think I said, or wish I had said, about how Inbound Marketing helps grow relationships:
- First you have to be visible. That's why peacocks have big tailfeathers, so the peahens can easily find them. When prospects search they have to find you, or no relationship can happen. Inbound Marketing positions you to be found by the most relevant prospects searching for what you do best.
- Relationships start with deciding who's relevant to our needs or interests. Think about dating. Attractive people usually get the most initial attention, but we tend to remember the one who was the best combination of all the things that matter to us. Prospects are the same. They remember vendors whose solutions are most relevant to their situations and fit well with their business culture and philosophy. Knowing and expressing your prospect's persona in all your content is an important part of demonstrating genuine relevancy.
- Relationships grow as prospects become familiar through nurturing activities, offering and demonstrating value with no strings attached. When prospects become comfortable with their expectations of the value they'll receive from you from a blog, webinar or an e-blast, trust becomes solidified. Familiarity means they might even start introducing you to others, because they trust your brand promise enough to attach their name to it as well.
- As trust deepens, buying from you becomes a real possibility, probably a potential just waiting for the best situation. This is when prospects feel they truly know who you are and what they could count on you for, and they conceptually put you on their short list. That's when the tools of Inbound Marketing help to signal when a prospect is in the buy mode and increase the odds that you'll correctly recognize opportunity knocking.
- Finally, clients become promoters, because they've seen and experienced how you both grow relationships and deliver value, and they may also have learned that being aligned to someone who does business that way is good for their standing.
Throughout American history the most successful professional sales people have been those individuals capable of building and maintaining meaningful customer relationships that survive recessions, mergers, new technologies, even political upheaval. Inbound Marketing builds on that legacy of success through relationships by cleverly combining technology, tools, strategy and process. It's not rocket science, but it does rock!