#Deactivatefacebook is trending on Twitter. The plan Facebook announced for cleaning up their leaky user data invokes images of boulders being pushed up hills. Zuckerberg’s response to the crisis was, well, underwhelming.
Do we think Facebook is going to disappear? Nope!
But it’s fun to overreact. And it’s a great excuse to take a look at Facebook and other marketing platforms to make sure you’re placing your eggs in the right baskets (side note, it should never be ‘basket’… Think pie chart with multiple slices of platforms you choose – silver bullets do not exist in marketing).
You have to be vigilant with those baskets because the evolution of marketing waits for no one and it’s pace accelerates every day. Social Media platforms shrink, grow, pivot or close their doors. Google’s algorithm ebbs and flows like an ambitious ocean tide. When we’re building out marketing strategies it’s amazing how often we think, ‘That would have been the right play 3 years ago, but not anymore.’
There are no set-it-&-forget-it marketing platforms anymore. The targets are all moving. Which is why it’s important to check in on your chosen platforms and make sure you’re investing in a strategy that will serve you in the long-term.
What Marketing Platforms Exist & Deserve Our Attention?
Here is a chart that captures the current landscape of popular marketing platforms and channels. We’ve broken it out into Inbound & Outbound sections:
- Organic Search (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.)
- Earned Social Media
- Nurturing Emails
- Website Based Forms and Landing Pages
- Online Display Ads
- Paid Google Adwords and Paid Social
- Snail Mail
The Logic of Inbound Marketing Platforms:
If you’re a B2B company then your lifetime customer value is going to have a comma or two in it. Which means your customers spend time and resources to research their options. They may even have teams of our favorite types of people (procurement leaders stand up!) whose sole responsibility is to research and recommend solutions.
Either way, the buyer’s journey is rarely a hasty, impulse-driven trip. You know from your existing marketing channels how your customers typically find you and what their journey to the sale looks like.
The inbound marketing platforms from the chart above are all byproducts of one thing: Value. Here’s what I mean: You know your customers very well. You know what their goals are and what keeps them up at night. Your inbound marketing strategy will leverage that knowledge to create content that addresses goals and fears.
Inbound content lands directly under their noses (on Google). It lands there not because you paid for it. But because you thought about what your customers need and you addressed those needs; and then Google rewarded you for offering value and for showing thought leadership.
Consider the process from soup to nuts:
**Chart by Hubspot
The Referral and Social Media platforms are byproducts of the value that you created. People like to share useful information. It makes them look good. Useful content is social currency and the shared links, posts, and direct emails are all integral to the inbound process.
You put your customers’ concerns and goals at the root of your marketing strategy. You exercised empathy. You offered them value. The value that you offered engaged them. You nurtured them with valuable emails after they showed interest. And then it delighted them. And then it sold them. All the inbound marketing platforms materialize based on the content that you’ve created.
Marketing can evolve all it wants. No matter where it goes your empathy for your customers should always drive strategy. Your customers will always appreciate the value that you offer on these inbound platforms. Permissive marketing tactics will hold steady while the platforms evolve.
The Logic Of Outbound Marketing Platforms
If the seed of inbound marketing is ‘empathy and value’ what is the seed of outbound? In a couple words; money and volume.
Paid advertising is a completely different kind of performance. Essentially, it’s about interruption and math, especially on the lead generation scale.
Let’s be clear, Super Bowl commercials are in a whole different league of human connection, but they are the exception to the rule. We love a commercial so well crafted that people rush back from the bathroom to join in the viewing. If a Super Bowl commercial is not in your budget then let’s focus back.
A television or radio ad can be bought for a specific program. In that way, it is an attempt to target a specific audience. But the buyer has no control over what he has to hear on the radio or see on the TV.
The bones of this marketing approach are to boast and measure: Shout your value props at innocent people and then measure the revenue. Unfortunately, you can’t drop a cookie on a dude sitting on his couch. So the math won’t be exact. But, perhaps, more importantly, TV and radio just are trending in the wrong direction.
There are just too many ways to proactively avoid this kind of courtship for us to feel good about it:
- People DVR their favorite shows and fast forward through the commercials
- Netflix, Amazon, Hulu & HBO Now are growing rapidly and people are performing vasectomies on their cable cords at a record pace.
- Paid (commercial-free) radio options like Sirius, Pandora, and Spotify have made the radio feel antiquated. (iHeart Radio just filed a chapter 11)
The other outbound platforms, like paid Google and paid social, are more interesting to us. Google AdWords allows for some watered down empathy. You can exercise the same keyword research logic. Then you can try to address your customers’ goals and fears in 125 words or less. Facebook ads have been effective in the same way. But the Analytica Crisis has caused some marketers to pump the brakes.
A platform like Paid Social makes a ton of sense if you’re selling a product or service that could be categorized as an “impulse buy.” If your buyer’s journey can happen in a split second because you’re offering a freemium service or a $10 pair of jeans then paid social is the platform for you. Exercise some inbound philosophies to get to know who your ideal clients are and then test your assumptions with paid social campaigns on various platforms.
H2H Marketing > B2B Marketing or B2C Marketing
Internally at Pipeline Inbound, we yap a lot about ‘B2B’ or ‘B2C’ when discussing strategy. The truth is that all marketing is H2H (Human to Human).
No matter what your product or service is your marketing strategy should seek to connect on a human level. Your customers are not ATM machines. They are people with relatable goals and fears.
The development of your marketing strategy should begin there. It will help you define who your ideal customers are. It will help you to target those ideal customers in a human way.
Guy Kawaski, the sage entrepreneur, once said,
”If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.Guy Kawasaki
We think Guy is a little harsh here, but the spirit of the quote has held up since he said it in 2012. Inbound is empathetic. No matter how much marketing strategy evolves it will always grow from that same seed. Nobody thinks you should abstain from paid ads. But the root of your strategy is a response to the needs and fears of your customers.
If you think you could do a better job of understanding what keeps your ideal customers up at night and how that impacts your marketing then just ask us. We’re happy to take a gander and we’ll probably end up chatting your ear off.