In this struggling economy businesses are constantly looking for ways to cuts costs.

Unfortunately, more often than not, one of the first things to go is the marketing budget.  This can be a huge mistake.  The companies that make it out of a bad economy in the best shape are the ones that marketed smartly and effectively during the down turn.

The key is to be creative and find ways to market both frugally and effectively.  This is where you move away from “Outbound” marketing and towards “Inbound” marketing.

“Outbound marketing” – what is commonly considered to be a traditional marketing plan for most businesses and organizations – generally involves:

  • Advertising and promotions
  • Public Relations
  • Sales and In Person Networking

Unfortunately, because of the high costs often associated with these efforts, they tend to be the first to get cut in uncertain economic times.  Welcome to the realities of today’s business world.

Fortunately, however, there is another form of marketing that is more flexible in terms of approach and costs involved.  It’s called “Inbound Marketing”.  For this article we would like to focus on inbound marketing as it relates to the internet.

Inbound marketing for the internet can consist of but is not limited to:

These are great ways to reach your target audience without spending the many thousands of dollars you might spend using Outbound marketing methods.

As businesses experience the economic squeeze of late the first instinct may be to cut spending.  Unfortunately, when it relates to spending on marketing, it tends to be a “slash and burn” approach as opposed to a redirection of efforts. Now is precisely the time when a business needs to look for new opportunities to fill certain vacancies left in the market by those who “slash and burn”.

During this time as marketing (or advertising really) dollars dry up, smart companies look toward more cost effective solutions.  Inbound marketing is such a solution.  Let’s look at the three categories of Inbound marketing for the internet we have already identified…

Search Engine Optimization or SEO

Organic search results in Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc (those not found in sponsored links but in the top ten listings) are mostly the result of what is called Search Engine Optimization.  This refers to the practice of enhancing the content of your site to include more keyword rich content so the search engines and ultimately your target audience can find you more easily.

This is a prime example of inbound marketing because it is involves an active search by your target audience looking directly for you.  And when they find you they find tons of information related to their specific needs.

For more information on SEO, please contact us.

Blogging

Blogging (or Web Logging) is an inbound marketing tool that can be much more effective than a traditional newsletter in that the audience is engaged and can interact through comments and discussion.  Viewers can now follow your blog, capture specific information and look up articles based on your keyword tags.  Some popular blog services are:

Through blogging you can gain maximum exposure to the webisphere while still targeting those who most want to hear what you have to say.  If they find your blog and subscribe to it, then you are an instant expert in their minds.  So, when you offer them more information through a link to a landing page (see below) you have a much better chance of them seeking your services.

For more information on Blogging, please contact us.

Social Media Marketing

Social networking sites are group sites where you can connect to those who share a common interest or purpose.  These can be one or more of the following:

  • Twitter.com – where you can follow and be followed and engage in public conversations about content specific matters all limited to 140 characters/li>
  • Facebook.com – where you can find friends, co-workers, colleagues, etc and join in various groups specific to your interests
  • LinkedIn.com – where you can take your personal or business resume to a whole new level.

While these are all great ways to stay engaged, you need to be careful not to get lost in the quagmire of all of these sites.  You must maintain a purpose.  That purpose is inbound marketing; the idea is to draw these connections into your web site, newsletter, or blog.  Areas where you can more specifically elicit a targeted action.

A very effective way to integrate social media with your web site is by using landing pages to track and direct the visits.  A landing page is a page on your site that is linked from a specific location.  So, if you are promoting your services through a social networking site like Twitter, you will want to link that to a landing page that is an extension of the discussion you were having on Twitter and then direct that person to where you want them to go.

For more information on Social Media Marketing, please contact us.

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.