When we marketers break down “inbound marketing” for customers, we often explain how high-quality content drives a powerful curiosity process that attracts, converts, nurtures, and delights potential customers. We talk about lead generation and increasing sales. The focus is on developing new opportunities and new revenue.
But, if we think critically about our message, sometimes all this talk about attracting the “new” fails to demonstrate the full potential of inbound marketing for business-building. For many businesses, the key to revenue growth does not reside in direct sales; rather, some business' revenue is built on a coalition of selling partners. Consider the insurance industry with its many independent agents or the automobile industry with its broader dealership model. In industries like these, marketing is not just about making the product or service shine for customers. Instead, the central company must encourage and support their coalition of entities to improve their sales. It's here that inbound marketing can play a central role.
Inbound Marketing Is Coalition-Building
At its core, inbound marketing is effective because the content marketers produce encourages prospects to make the decision to convert, follow, and buy into a certain company. From a sales perspective, this buy-in occurs when they eventually purchase products or services. From a coalition-building perspective, this buy-in occurs when partner companies (e.g. dealerships, agents, resellers, etc.) market your company in a way that demonstrates their belief in what you sell. In either case, buy-in is the ultimate goal of inbound marketing.
How Do You Create Buy-In?
Consider a scenario in which you are an insurance company with agents within a broad region. The agents sell your insurance, but each one has varying levels of success, and often, it seems that the perception of your brand varies from agent to agent. In addition, your company’s dialogue with its many agents suffers from irregular and unclear communication. The agents like the product they're selling because of its inherent quality, but they struggle to get that message out.
Inbound marketing could correct this situation by turning the emphasis toward content, attraction, and coalition nurturing. Each agent should be constantly attracted to your company because of the content flow your company creates. With direct outreach and regular content, your coalition will be tighter and each agent will have a clearer understanding of how to sell your insurance brand.
Content for a Coalition
We encourage content creation in coalitions because, often, it’s easier and more straightforward than marketing products to the general public. Within a coalition, such as a dealership network, your audience understands the product their selling, but they just need to be excited about it. If a car company wants their dealers to sell more coupes, then their content should focus on building excitement and proving the value for selling those cars. They should create rich content that dealers can use to educate their employees, and there should be regular communication using a special blog or partner emailing to ensure that messages are understood.
Whether we’re talking external sales or internal coalition building, buy-in is the critical goal for inbound marketing. We want customers and partners to believe in what they’re purchasing so that our companies’ growth is longterm, sustainable, and drawn from an ever-broadening audience. Too often, we forget that buy-in comes in many forms, but for a wide array of industries, coalition building should not be forgotten. Attraction, nurturing, conversion, and delight are essential to multiple elements of business growth, so don’t stop at direct revenue generation, when you could be creating indirect support for a long-chain of sales improvement.