Inbound marketing is on the rise with 79% of UK companies implementing inbound marketing strategies in 2014, representing a year-over-year growth of 25%. But just what is inbound marketing? And how relevant is it to B2B marketing communications?
Inbound marketing refers to the use of informative and educational content by a brand to attract prospective customers, unlike ‘outbound marketing’ which is aligned to more traditional ‘interruptive’ methods of marketing such as cold-calling, TV advertisements, telemarketing and sponsored ads.
Instead of courting the customer, the customer engages with the company as a result of their desire to learn more about a product, service or a particular industry issue. The company provides this knowledge through various forms of content such as blogs, webinars, video, eBooks and white papers published online.
With customers increasingly marketing-savvy and active across various platforms and devices, this approach certainly makes sense. However, I can’t help but feel it all sounds too familiar. Is this not what consummate PR practitioners are already doing as part of an overall integrated communications strategy?
Inbound marketing appears to be merely an umbrella term for a range of marketing practices that already exist and that brands should have already been using; such as content marketing, social media and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). It’s all a bit The Emperor’s New Clothes, for me…
Wikipedia outlines how inbound marketing is used to ‘reach potential customers at various levels of brand awareness’ that enables businesses to ‘learn about potential customers and have potential customers learn about the business’. But isn’t this objective what the PR industry has been addressing within both in-house and client B2B communications strategies for many, many years?
The key goal of B2B communication is raising visibility and awareness of a brand through quality, targeted content that reaches the intended audience in the right way. The range of channels for this communication is what has changed. A holistic comms programme – underpinned by a steadfast PR strategy – ensures that all possible touch points along the customer journey are engaging and consistent with a brand’s core messages.
So before potentially being seduced – or panicked – by a new terminology (and not a new approach to market), B2B brands may wish to review their current comms programme and consider whether they’re communicating with their target audience in the most effective way possible across all relevant platforms. And if not, their PR agency will certainly be able to guide them in the right direction.
Unlike the Emperor, there’s no need to invest in a whole new imaginary wardrobe – maybe just some fashion tips and advice on the latest marketing accessories. To find out how AD Communications can support your inbound marketing strategy, please email Shireen Shurmer at email@example.com