They might seem psychic, but today’s most successful small businesses are not. They’re just really good at inbound marketing. They understand that traditional “hey, look at me” advertising is keeping company with the dodo and VHS cassette tapes.

It’s not about you and your features and benefits. It’s about positioning yourself to show up on the radar screen when a prospect searches for the solution to their problem. It’s about pull, not push. It’s about connecting with people because what you share with them is a problem – not your solution. You’ll get to that, but you can’t lead with it. Inbound marketing is the technique of attracting qualified prospects, converting them to customers, and then delighting them so they come back – along with their friends – for more.

Attract

Why on Earth would you want to throw a party for a bunch of people who don’t like you? Inbound marketing is particular. You’re looking only for people who have the problem that your product or service can solve.

The story you’ll tell them with marketing makes no apologies for being boring to people who don’t have this problem. It validates, educates and gives perspective only to those who will benefit by what you do or make. The right marketing message here is problem-centric. Don’t worry. You’ll get around to talking about your solution. But you’ve got to make a connection first.

Engage

“You understand my problem.” That’s the big first step you have to take. Now you have gained permission to have a discussion with prospects. They’re no longer perfect strangers, and you’ve established an important commonality: you understand their problem. You can describe it and help them with perspective.

Now you can show them your expertise. You’ve earned the right to ask them for a deeper level of commitment so you can share even more perspective and education. It’s also the opportunity for you to begin to talk about yourself. And rightly so. How did you get to be such an expert about this problem you both share?

This is also where you invest the most time and effort in content creation. You need solution-centric content that helps people put your product or service into their worldview now that you’ve shown you understand their problem. And at each step of the way, you’re creating a deeper level of engagement. You’re not marketing to them, you’re having a conversation with them.

Delight

If you accompany a person this far along the buyer’s journey, you will likely be able to count them as a customer. But don’t pop the champagne cork yet. Today’s customer doesn’t just want to buy from you and disappear. They want to feel a certain level of ownership. After all, you’ve established a much deeper relationship that’s based on a problem you both share.

The last part of inbound marketing closes the circle. This is where you reach out and ask how things are going. It reminds customers of why you connected in the first place. How else can you help them? The result is customer delight. People are pleased to see that you are grateful for their patronage. That’s social currency for them. They’ll share their satisfaction.

It’s not about what you have

It’s about what your customers want. They couldn’t care less about your product or service and why it’s better – until you first acknowledge their problem. It’s a conversation. If your online marketing isn’t getting you new customers, it’s time to do a deeper dive into the inbound aspects. We can show you how.