How to Prepare an Inbound Marketing Consultation & Competitive Analysis

Inbound Marketing A through Z: Beginning a Marketing Consultancy Part II

In yesterday’s article I discussed my inbound marketing consultancy, The Ultimate Internet Image, and also discussed the Offline Gold Rush, the race to inbound marketing consulting riches and those individuals exploiting this trend with hype and irresponsible claims:

“Step right up and make $5,000 to $10,000 per month with your eyes closed! Oh yeah, while standing on your head…Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

I think I mentioned something about prime oceanfront property in Arizona while I was at it?

And PT Barnum?

Well, once again:

”Step right up!”

Additionally, I discussed the awareness, empathy, and experience required to effectively advise and assist traditional offline businesses. The aforementioned awareness is an absolute necessity whether you are working with brick and mortar businesses (retail), professional practices, service-oriented businesses, and/or specialty shops.

Hopefully, I put the seriousness of the commitment we all make when we take on a new client in perspective? The relationship you have with an inbound marketing client, with any client, should indeed be viewed as a marriage!

Finally, the online and offline worlds were discussed as they relate to an overall marketing strategy, a marketing strategy that includes both inbound marketing and targeted, quantifiable outbound marketing under a single umbrella, and umbrella I refer to as a synergy of the two, hybrid marketing.

In this article I will discuss how The Ultimate Internet Image prepares for a comprehensive, inbound marketing consultation and competitive analysis. Interestingly, at The Ultimate Internet Image we focus first on an inbound marketing consultation, helping the prospective client understand new media marketing, and then, once the client is on board, work towards integrating the best outbound techniques into a hybrid marketing model tailored to the precise needs of the client.

In many instances, preparation for a marketing consultation and competitive analysis begins long before we receive the call from a business or professional practice (another kind of business) for an appointment. The preparation begins with targeting an audience, a target market we feel will be receptive to our message.

Significantly, the same methods we use to acquire clients, a hyrid approach to marketing, are often used to acquire clients for our clients. If it works for us, it will generally work for our clients, with a few variations and tweaks of course. So, we are aware of how many of the businesses and practices operate, at least generally, before we ever receive the call.

Once the call is made or email sent, an appointment is set. The initial marketing consultation is usually set a few days out. Interestingly, I grew up in the school that advocated the opposite, striking while the iron is hot, “porcupines in heat” and all of that (I will explain later).

However, we have found that a little extra time accomplishes a number of things:

  • It eliminates the tire kickers. Remember, this is a long term relationship and we only want clients who take a long and broad view. If someone is in that big of a hurry to meet, while we will certainly do all in our power to accommodate them, warning bells begin to sound. Slow and easy wins the inbound marketing race, not pressure and hype, from either end.
  • It allows for qualified appointments, appointments that allow the prospective client to do a little poking around. If they do, they invariably find out that we are the real deal and can do what we say we will do.
  • It allows us to do all the research we need to do in order to understand their business inside and out.
  • It allows us to crawl inside the niche and understand who the players are and how we are going to attack them. Yes, attack!
  • It allows us to put all the data we collect into a binder so when we present our findings to our new client. As a result, they know we are serious and we do our homework. We do NOT use a canned presentation or “pitch book!” Every clients is unique, if we do our homework without a commitment and without being paid, how much more will we do for them once we are on board?
  • It allows us to get beyond credentials, references, and business cards and on to how we can serve them as a marketing expert.
  • It eliminates money as the deciding factor in almost every instance…or at least moves it way down on the list of objections and obstacles.
  • It allows us to answer most objections before they ever come up!

Once we do our homework, homework that includes a myriad of factors, we meet with the prospective client. The inbound marketing consultation and competitive analysis, as stated in Part I, takes between and hour and a half and two hours on average and is the first of at least two meetings.

UII never closes on the first visit, there is too much in stake on both sides of the table.

In the inbound marketing consultation and competitive analysis we discuss the following:

  • How the owner got into business or profession they are in, including where they went to school and where they live now.
  • Did they grow up in the area?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • What is the biggest challenge they are currently facing?
  • What is the issue they are currently and consistently grappling with that concerns them most?
  • What have they tried to do about it?
  • What marketing strategies are they currently employing?
    • Are they online?
    • Do they have a website?
    • Do they understand SEO?
    • Do they use social media?
    • Who writes their copy?
    • Are they using PPC (pay-per-click)?
    • What is their monthly ad spend?
    • Are they tracking the results?
    • If so, what are the metrics?
    • Do they use video?
    • If they use video, how?
    • Who produces their video for them?
    • Do they use audio?
    • Do they have a blog?
    • Do they have an online shopping cart?
    • How big is their email list?
    • Do they have an email list?
    • How often do they contact their clients, past and present?
    • Do they have an active referral system?
    • Do they know how they rank with Alexa?
    • How do they rank with Quantcast?
    • Do they use analytics?
    • Do they show up and page one of the various search engines?
    • For what keyword phrases?

And so on!

Interestingly, by the time we meet with a prospective client, by the time the questions above and many more like it are asked, we already know the answers.

The Ultimate Internet Image does a comprehensive analysis of not only the prospective client’s business or practice, their Internet Image, their online presence and effectiveness, we also do a complete analysis of the top ten competitors in the niche.

Significantly, with the tools at our disposal, we are almost always right on the money.

Pun intended!

Using the resources we either own or have memberships to, we will know what a prospective client’s PR is (Google’s Page Rank), how they rank with Alexa and Quantcast, what keywords they are paying for and how much they are spending per click, per day, and per month.

UII will also know what keywords a competitor is buying and which ones overlap with the ones our prospective client is focusing on. The Ultimate Internet Image will also know which keywords are competed for organically and how vulnerable the prospective client and their competitors are to being bumped down and/or off of page one.

We also have a complete list of the keywords and their frequency, every keyword phrase used, on the client’s site. All the data is assessed and quantified. We then do the same for each of the competitors.

Links and Longevity

Links and longevity are two of the most important factors in achieving a page one ranking for the various keywords of interest on the various search engine results pages (SERPS). The number of pages a website has will have a profound impact on its rank, provided the pages, as well as the website as a whole, are put together properly and have the proper focus (i.e., keywords, keyword density, overall construction, etc.).

Significantly, UII will also know how many pages our prospective client’s site has indexed with the various search engines. The Ultimate Internet Image will also know how many pages each of the competitors’ sites have. In other words, every page indexed with Google, Yahoo, and Bing will be accounted for and compared. We will also know how many incoming links each site has and where they originate.

This is, of course, the tip of the iceberg. However, it provides a window into just how complete an analysis is required if you are to understand a prospective client and their competitive niche.

This takes more than a $97 e-course or a $997 e-course, it takes everything mentioned in Part I, and above:

  • Awareness
  • Empathy
  • Experience
  • Preparation
  • And so much more!

Ultimately, the decision of whether to create an inbound marketing consultancy is your’s. However, whether you are considering the creation of a comprehensive hybrid marketing firm or one that is more specialized, a consultancy dealing solely with inbound marketing, social media management, video marketing, or one of the many other niches within marketing, you must become a student of your craft, a student of not only one aspect of marketing but of the businesses you intend to serve.

Success in inbound marketing, in any aspect of marketing, is a Herculean task and one not to be taken lightly.

The Siren’s Call?

The $5,000 to $10,000 per month?

It is do-able!

However, you must over-deliver and you must become a student of marketing. Forget about The 4 Hour Workweek and that business about working 2-3 hours a day. If you are going to serve your clients to the best of your ability, you will have to put in the time…and the money!

As stated in Part I, when you take on a client you are taking on a trust, you are entering a long-term business relationship not unlike a marriage. So, once again, become a student of your business, inbound marketing, social media, whatever; and, their business. If you do so, you will serve your clients well and have a good shot of making it long-term; and, you will make a lot more than the amount advertised by the Internet marketing “gurus” attempting to cash in on the latest Gold Rush, the Offline Business Gold Rush.

Finally, Michael Gerber stated, in The E Myth Revisted, that 80% of all businesses fail in the first 5 years. He goes on to note that 80% of the remainging 20% fail in the second 5 years.

A sobering statistic!

You have the opportunity to help others make it through the transtitional periods, including the marketing shift currently underway; and, in the process become not only a lasting business in your own right but earn life-long clients, as well.

In Part III of Inbound Marketing A through Z: Beginning a Marketing Consultancy we will address many of the strategies we use at The Ultimate Internet Image to take clients from a 0 PR, often stuck there for years, and absent from page one of the various SERPS, and create for them a powerful and lasting online presence…The Ultimate Internet Image.

Contact us anytime for a comprehensive inbound marketing consultation and competitive analysis.

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
216-712-7004 (bus)
440-821-7018 (cell)

Inbound Marketing A through Z: Beginning a Marketing Consultancy – Part I

Beginning an Inbound Marketing Marketing Consultancy and the Gold Rush

Offline Gold, 4 Hours a Week, and the Business of Marriage

First, before we get started I want to warn you, this is going to ruffle a few feathers. In fact, that is part of the reason I am writing it!

There has been a lot of talk about Offline Marketing Gold, particularly as it relates to social media management and inbound marketing. This article is the first of three parts. The first is more conceptual, broad strokes and my take on what is happening online in marketing today. I also talk about whether you are the right fit to pursue inbound marketing as a career.

And yes, it is a career!

An inbound marketing consultancy is not The 4 Hour Workweek and it is not 2 hours a day from the beach. My clients at The Ultimate Internet Image want results and they want to see me or at least hear from me…often.

After all, I have their professional lives in my hands (I will explain below).

So, just a warning before we begin. I will be all over the place today but tomorrow I will pull it all together and provide the actual nuts and bolts, the resources I apply from the time I begin to assess a prospective client through signing them as a marketing client of The Ultimate Internet Image.

In Part III of Inbound Marketing A through Z: Beginning a Marketing Consultancy I will address the various options you have for developing a client’s Internet image or online presence, the software we use at The Ultimate Internet Image to get clients to page one in hours (our record in 56 minutes) and the strategies involved in keeping them there. Additionally, and this is crucial, I will address how we get page one listings to convert into clients, ultimately into dollars.

Yes, Google’s page one is nice, you can’t beat it, but once there, and once someone visits your website as a result of a page one organic (or sponsored) listing, how do we get the visitor to act? The strategies we use at UII will be addressed in detail in Part III.

So, on to the Gold Rush!

I have been reading a lot about all the money to be made in “offline” business consulting, inbound marketing consulting to be more precise. The offline business world is made up predominantly of brick and mortar businesses (retail in all its many manifestations), service oriented businesses (e.g., HVAC, plumbers, landscapers, contractors of all sorts, computer repair, etc.), professional practices (e.g., medical doctors, dentists, chiropractors, podiatrists, attorneys, accountants, etc.), and speciality providers. I use specialty providers as a catch-all for those types of businesses where a special service or a special order is required, you can’t just walk in and buy something; there is a process.

In other words, there’s a lot of “gold in them thar hills!”

Or at least that’s what certain savvy marketers would have you believe.

“Step right up ladies and gentelman,” as PT Barnum would say, “watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” Or? $5000 to $10,000 a month!

Those are the numbers I see thrown around each and every day. Significantly, the numbers are being thrown around on the Internet; and, almost always by Internet marketing “gurus” selling programs on how to make $5000 to $10,000 a month offline!

Hmmm?

I am often amused when I read such claims, not because there isn’t some validity, because there is, but because it seems the offline world, whether retail, service-oriented, professional, or specialty, has become the latest California Gold Rush. And, as is always the case when “gold fever” strikes, there is no shortage of shrewd Internet marketers out there ready, willing, and very able to stoke the fire and fuel the hype. We’ll get into the distinction between hype and reality in a bit.

Picks and Shovels Anyone?

You may have heard the story of Samuel Brannan (1819-1889), the founder of the California Star and the proprietor of the Sutter Fort store, among many others. Sam Brannan made his fortune selling picks and shovels, predominantly shovels, to the miners and wannabe miners caught up in the California Gold Rush (1848-1855) fever of the day. The story is told by J.S. Holiday in Rush for Riches; Gold Fever and the Making of California (1999).

Interestingly, it is said that Brannan used tithes collected from members of the LDS Church to buy the shovels and then ran (some say strode) through the streets, holding a small vial of gold dust and yelling:

“Gold! Gold! Gold from the American River!”

The tithes were actually colllected from the earnings of the LDS miners themselves.

Brannan never spent a dime of his own money, he simply parleyed the money of others and then fueled the hype so people who were thinking about cashing in had nowhere else to turn for their supplies. The Sutter Fort store is said to have sold $150,000 per month worth of supplies in 1849.

In 1849!

Not bad for someone who never mined an ounce of gold himself. Sam just preyed on the gullibility and the greed of others to make his fortune, Brannan’s own greed is, of course, notwithstanding.

I hope you can see the parallels?

It seems every time there is a new idea, a gimmick, or whatever, there’s no shortage of Sam Brannans ready to cash on the gold rushers. In this case, the offline gold rushers looking for all that offline business gold.

Inbound Marketing Gold!

Is it real? Yes…and no!

Yes, there is money to be made inbound marketing consulting, or offline business consulting if you will. And no, it is not as easy as many Internet marketing gurus would have you believe, not by a long shot. But that doesn’t stop savvy marketers from charging $97 or $997 or $997 or $9997 and up for the Holy Grail, the secret to end all secrets, the ultimate cash-in:

Offline Business Gold!

Let me qualify all of this before we go any further.

I almost said “Let me say this about that!” A Richard Milhous Nixon moment – Phew – what a flashback!

OK, back to inbound marketing consulting!

There always has been and, no doubt as we move into an era of greater and greater specialization, always will be, a need for consultants. However, we are talking about the need for marketing consultants who are intimately in tune with the offline business world and, in particular, with the needs of the traditional brick and mortar retail business, professional practice, service-oriented business, or specialty shop. The familiarity does not have to be specific to the client’s business but there must be an overall awareness of what it takes to survive in the “offline” world. There must also be an awareness of how outbound marketing may still fit into an overall sales and marketing strategy.

Why?

Because without awareness and flexibility there can be no empathy and if you can’t put yourself in your client’s shoes, how can you possibly understand their needs, wants, and desires?

Online vs Offline

Additionally, we do not live in an online world, we live in a world that is both online and offline; and, to neglect either is to fail your client. Yes, we are becoming increasingly connected, particularly in the developed world, and the developing world is catching up fast, but remember, being connected, having access to an Internet connection, does not always mean using the Internet connection.

It’s interesting how many advertising and marketing people I talk to, online and offline, inbound and outbound, who think in terms of one world when in fact there are two.

Some people never turn on a computer, don’t know how to set up an email account, much less check it, and really could care less. If you neglect that portion of your client’s market, you are leaving a ton of money out of the equation; and, perhaps it may be the difference between profitability and bankruptcy.

OK, so you say you have an awareness and you have empathy. You also feel you understand the importance of a hybrid approach to marketing, the synergy between outbound and inbound marketing strategies. And, finally, you have been there, done that in one way or another.

That’s great! If you can communicate your awareness, and your empathy, to you prospective marketing client you may have a shot.

If not?

You may want to consider a different career choice.

I am not trying to burst anyone’s balloon here but we are talking about peoples’ lives, their business and personal well-being will be in your hands. If you fail, there is a good chance your client’s business will fail…or at least take a significant hit. This is serious and it takes more than a ninety-seven dollar course or a nine thousand, nine hundred, and ninety-seven dollar course to get you there, it takes time, awareness, empathy, imagination, experience, and thick skin.

Yes, very thick skin!

This is not checkers, this is chess; this is about strategy and the stakes are high! As I have said in previous articles, you take on a scared trust when you acquire a client. And, if you drop the ball, your client takes the hit professionally and personally. Additionally, your performance affects your client’s family’s well-being, their employees’ and their empolyees’ familys’ well-being; and, particularly if the client has a sizable business or practice, you may affect the entire community.

Still want to be an inbound marketing consultant?

If so, there may be hope for you!

Combined with your marketing knowledge generally, and inbound marketing experience specifically, you must be able to integrate the business’ personality, and that of its owner, into your marketing strategy. That sort of understanding and familiarity takes getting to know your client over a period of time. To that end, you must have access to your client on a regular basis.

In many ways, your new relationship with your marketing client will be like a marriage; and, you should be prepared to be in it for the long haul.

Beware!

If someone is looking for a quick fix, look out!

Quick fixes are rare and generally take a lot more money than the individual requiring such a “fix” is willing to invest. It is kind of the like the tutor who gets a phone call two weeks before the end of the school year, the child is failing, and the parent wants the tutor to help the child pass the course. Some things are beyond repair and others, while not beyond repair, simply take more time than you are afforded.

Assess your individual clients carefully, listen to what they are saying, and select your clients after getting to know them. Remember, you are going to be married to them for a long time! Make sure you can work together and do not go into an arrangement simply to make a sale thinking you can fix it later. Most of us who have been or are married know that doesn’t work. Make sure you are on the same wave length right from the start.

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Advertising

Additionally, just as you must understand there is an offline and an online world, you also need to understand that marketing is not an us or them proposition, outbound versus inbound. In marketing, it is whatever works, whatever communicates the message the client is attempting to get across and doing it in a way that converts a prospect into a client. In other words, you must be able to tailor your marketing message, your USP if you will (unique selling proposition), in such a way that it causes people to take a specific action…whatever that may be.

Ultimately, marketing is about creating a message that will be received in a positive manner; and, the message must prompt a specific, quantifiable action. Significantly, while this is indeed becoming an increasingly relationship-oriented, permission-based world, particularly as it relates to marketing, inbound marketing; there are times when a targeted outbound marketing strategy is warranted. Interestingly, a targeted direct mail strategy will often work quite well, particualry if it is well crated and focuses on the client’s target market. Additionally, there are times when a focused, properly tailored ad campaign will delver results in the local newspaper.

However, and this is big, the outbound marketing campaign must be targeted, trackable (ROI verifiable), and it absolutely must be part of a much broader holistic, hybrid marketing strategy. In other words, the marketing strategy you create must be the best of both worlds, inbound marketing and outbound marketing under a unifying umbrella.

Still with me?

Perhaps you will make it!

Given you have the necessary awareness and empathy, combined with experience; and, once you have an understanding of your client and your client’s business, you are ready to devise a marketing strategy that will fit the needs of the business.

How do you do that?

Well, up until now we have been talking in broad strokes. Now that you have made the decision to create a marketing consultancy, you need to make a decision concerning the type focus your marketing consultancy will have. Will you focus solely on inbound marketing or will it be a hybrid approach to marketing? I recommend the latter.

In any case, once the decision is made, you can begin serving your clients to the best of your ability, knowing you have the ability.

Then, the fun starts!

OK! So, you have gotten past the philosophical hurdles, you have decided you are not just another gold rusher, and you have made the decision to go forward. Now, you can assess individual clients and decide whether you are the right person for them and their business. Equally, if not more important, you must decide if they are the right client for you and your business.

Remember, this is like a marriage so go slow!

Next, I will cover how I proceed once a prospective client contacts The Ultimate Internet Image for a free marketing consultation and competitive analysis. The consultation and analysis take between one and one-half and two hours to complete in the client’s office. If the first session goes well, a second session is scheduled and an in depth hybrid marketing strategy is developed. The preparation time for the 90 to 120 minute session is between 24 and 36 hours.

Once again, this is not about The 4 Hour Workweek or a 2-4 work day. Nor is this something you can do with a $97 or a $997 investment in an e-course. If you believe all of that after reading the above, PT Barnum was right and I have some gorgeous beach front property to show you in the Mojave Desert.

If you are still with me, I hope I have made you think a bit and I promise if you stay with me for Parts II and III, it will be worth your while.

Contact me anytime!

John Zajaros
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
216-712-7004 (bus)
440-821-7018 (cell)

Google’s Page 1 in One Hour: The Power of Video and Keyword Research

 The Power of Keyword Research

Sports Inflatables: Inflatable Football Tunnels Video to Page One in an Hour

Note: The video in question was posted on YouTube and within an hour was in the number 3 spot under an indented listing belonging to the prospective client. Video, combined with focused (targeted) keyword research, is without a doubt the fastest way to be found online and the fastest way to generate quality links to your site.

The Ultimate Internet Image is expert in all aspects of inbound marketing, from keyword research to video production and social media management.

Contact John Zajaros at The Ultimate Internet Image for a free, in depth inbound marketing consultation and competitive analysis.

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.
The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
216-712-7004 (bus)
440-821-7018 (cell)

Sports Inflatables: Inflatable Football Tunnels, Helmets, and Mascots

Sports Inflatables: The Incredible World of Inflatable Football Tunnels, Inflatable Helmets, and Inflatable Mascots

I’ve recently had the pleasure of immersing myself in the world of sports inflatables and talk about school spirit!

As I’ve been analyzing markets, doing keyword research, completing the requisite competitive analysis, and doing all of the myriad things an inbound marketing consultant must do when considering how best to serve a new client or prospective client, I have been taken on a journey back into my youth and to a time when running onto the field on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon, knowing that everyone in the stands was behind us 110%, was one of the most amazing experiences of my life; and, certainly one I will treasure my entire life.

Sports inflatables include inflatable football tunnels, inflatable school mascots, blast tunnels, and even inflatable bruiser tunnels…simply called “The Bruiser” by the people at Cogswell Creations! It is in doing the pre-interview research, by immersion, that I first came to understand the sports inflatables business.

It was the analysis of the sports inflatables business that took me back to my youth; and, it’s been fun!

As someone who first played and then trained top-level amateur and professional athletes, I can tell you this:

While the economy may be struggling, one trip to any high school or college weight room across the USA during the summer will give you an idea of just how alive, vibrant, and even passionate players, coaches, and fans are about “American football!”

Not only are the players, coaches and fans excited, the booster clubs are tossing around fundraising ideas, the marching bands are beginning to practice their songs and routines, and the majorettes and drill teams are beginning to choreograph their fall routines.

All of this activity is to one end:

Team Spirit!

One of the most interesting ways boosters across the country, from big schools and small, are demonstrating their school spirit is by having fundraisers and purchasing sports inflatables. Supporting their teams on the gridiron, matching their school’s passion for the game, booster clubs are going into overdrive to support their football teams by selecting just the right sports inflatable!

Types of sports inflatables (and this is by no means all of them):

  • Inflatable Football Tunnels
  • Inflatable Mascots
  • Inflatable Blast Tunnels
  • The Bruiser Inflatable Tunnel
  • Inflatable Helmets
  • Inflatable Helmet Combo Tunnels
  • and more!

What better way to show school spirit and how better to get your team fired up?

Cogswell Creations, here in my hometown (Lakewood, Ohio), builds sports inflatables and they are amazing at it. Building the ultimate in team spirit, one sports inflatable at a time.

Take a look at the video below and see for yourself!

Amazing! Takes me back to my younger days and, again, it’s been fun!

John Zajaros

The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
216-712-7004 (bus)
440-821-7018 (cell)
johnz@ultimateinternetimage.com
excellencepaidforward@gmail.com

Marketing Myopia: Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Advertising

Can There Be A Balanced Approach to Outbound Advertising and Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is all the rage, and justifiably so. Inbound marketing is an effective way to get in front of a lot of people searching for your products and/or services online. In other words, by applying a targeted new media, inbound marketing strategy, a business or professional practice can get in front of their target audience in a way simply not possible using most outbound advertising strategies.

Hence the Debate in Marketing Today!

You see, there is a debate going on in marketing today, a kind of tug-of-war between the traditional, outbound marketing world and the young turks of the new media, those consultants and consultancies applying inbound marketing strategies often to the exclusion of all else. Significantly, what we are seeing, instead of a synthesis, instead of a synergy of old and new, the most effective of both marketing worlds being tied into a single and effective strategy, most marketers are in the “My dad can beat up your dad!” mode.

There’s Offline and Online Marketing and Never the Twain Shall Meet

What exactly does that mean? Never the twain shall meet?

It means that two things are so different there will never be an opportunity for them to unite. This mentality is at the crux of the outbound advertising – inbound marketing debate and is symptomatic of what I refer to as marketing myopia. Marketing myopia is rampant and is a typical response whenever a new idea endangers the old-guard. I will explain in greater depth in a moment but for now think of how inertia works against progress and you are on your way to understanding what is ultimately behind the debate.

Inertia and the Crux of the Matter

The ongoing debate is particularly puzzling for traditional brick and mortar business owners. If the experts can’t agree, and when do the experts agree about anything, how is a business owner to know who to believe and which strategy is best for his or her business? The ongoing debate, whether to engage in outbound advertising or inbound marketing is ongoing and is an essential marketing point requiring resolution.

However, like most debates, there are strong feelings on both sides and many ways of looking at the myriad and complex issues.

In order to understand the issues at the heart of the outbound – inbound debate, it’s important to understand that while inbound marketing is indeed all the rage, the emergent and soon to be dominant force in marketing today, there are still very complex three worlds, three overarching strategies, and three audiences (not always separate and distinct), when it comes to marketing:

The Offline World

The Online World

The Online/Offline World

Significantly, while there are three very different worlds, or target audiences. The three audiences are very broad; and can, in fact must, be broken down still further into a seemingly infinite number of niches and niches within niches. Significantly, how we reach an audience is often niche specific, having less to do with a particular advertising or marketing bias and more to do with how a particular audience receives the bulk of their information.

How a particular audience receives information has as much to do with demographics, psychographics, and firmographics as the message itself. There are also a variety of socioeconomic variables, those not addressed in the variables listed above, that come into play and must be addressed if a marketing campaign is to be truly effective. For a marketing message, an advertising campaign, to be effective it must reach the targeted segment of the market (target audience), those receptive to the message and willing to act upon it, or at least consider it.

According to Wikipedia, “psychographic variables,” or simply psychographics, “are any attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. They are also called IAO variables (for Interests, Activities, and Opinions). They can be contrasted with demographic variables (such as age and gender), behavioral variables (such as usage rate or loyalty), and firmographic variables (such as industry, seniority and functional area).”

Interestingly, many marketing consultants would have the businesses and professional practices they advise target a particular audience based on the biases of the marketing consultant rather than based upon how a particular audience receives and accepts media messages (i.e., advertising).

Unfortunately, most marketing consultants would have a client lump all their efforts into one basket, often to the exclusion of all else, based solely on the strengths of the marketing firm and not on the needs of the business and its target audience.

Hence the Phrase: Marketing Myopia!

While there can be little doubt that the offline world, meaning those who either intentionally or unintentionally are without Internet access, is disappearing. This trend is real and the growth of the online world is exponential, particular in the developing world.

While the offline world is still much larger than the online world, at least worldwide, the gap is closing.

The table below provides the numbers from Internet World Stats

WORLD INTERNET USAGE AND POPULATION STATISTICS
World Regions Population
( 2009 Est.)
Internet Users
Dec. 31, 2000
Internet Users
Latest Data
Penetration
(% Population)
Growth
2000-2009
Users %
of Table
Africa 991,002,342 4,514,400 86,217,900 8.7 % 1,809.8 % 4.8 %
Asia 3,808,070,503 114,304,000 764,435,900 20.1 % 568.8 % 42.4 %
Europe 803,850,858 105,096,093 425,773,571 53.0 % 305.1 % 23.6 %
Middle East 202,687,005 3,284,800 58,309,546 28.8 % 1,675.1 % 3.2 %
North America 340,831,831 108,096,800 259,561,000 76.2 % 140.1 % 14.4 %
Latin America/Caribbean 586,662,468 18,068,919 186,922,050 31.9 % 934.5 % 10.4 %
Oceania / Australia 34,700,201 7,620,480 21,110,490 60.8 % 177.0 % 1.2 %
WORLD TOTAL 6,767,805,208 360,985,492 1,802,330,457 26.6 % 399.3 % 100.0 %
NOTES: (1) Internet Usage and World Population Statistics are for December 31, 2009. (2) CLICK on each world region name for detailed regional usage information. (3) Demographic (Population) numbers are based on data from the US Census Bureau . (4) Internet usage information comes from data published by Nielsen Online, by the International Telecommunications Union, byGfK, local Regulators and other reliable sources. (5) For definitions, disclaimer, and navigation help, please refer to the Site Surfing Guide. (6) Information in this site may be cited, giving the due credit to www.internetworldstats.com. Copyright © 2000 – 2010, Miniwatts Marketing Group. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Online World

In certain areas of the world, the percentage of the population with Internet access has overtaken the numbers without computer access and an Internet connection.

Interestingly, the numbers for the US, Europe, and Oceania/Australia indicate that if you are in a traditional brick and mortar business in one of these areas of the world, inbound marketing must be an integral component in your marketing strategy. However, there is still 23.8% of the population in the US without Internet access; 47% of the European population is without Internet access; and, 39.2% of the population of Oceania/Australia is without Internet access.

Additionally, and this question must be asked is, although 76.2%, 53.0%, and 60.8% of the populations in the various regions of the world, respectively, have Internet “access,” how many of the people with access actually use a computer regularly? How many of those individuals with access ever use or care to use a computer, much less log-on to the Internet? This is still a huge segment of your possible market and, if you ignore this segment of the population or simply fail to reach them, you may be leaving an incredible amount of money on the table, an audience completely untapped.

The online world is, at least in the areas of the world mentioned above, the majority and is growing rapidly.

Hence, the reason to be in front of this trend!

Consequently, it is crucial to recognize the offline segment of your target market and tailor your marketing strategy to reach them as well.

An aside: Notice the incredible growth rate in Asia, the Middle East, Latin American and the Caribbean, and, in particular, Africa with an 1809.8% growth rate. If you are considering an online business, these regions should play into your business development and marketing plans.

The online world is growing around the world and, hence, inbound marketing must play a pivotal role in your overall marketing strategy. However, engaging in an inbound marketing strategy should not be at the expense of the traditionally offline world, those individuals without computer and Internet access and/or those individuals who choose not to use a computer and the Internet in their daily lives.

The Twain Shall Meet: The Student Instructs the Teacher – The Tail Wagging the Dog!

Significantly, the online/offline world is where most consumers spend their time, attention, and money, balancing both and using whatever works, whatever they are comfortable with situationally. Other factors impacting the efficacy of outbound advertising and inbound marketing strategies are the variable mentioned above: demographics, psychographics, etc.

Interestingly, while many outbound advertising techniques no longer have the same effect they once did, either because the attention span of the target audience has been diminished, it has been segmented and fractured, because consumers no longer have the patience for the intrusive strategies engaged in by many of the outbound advertising campaigns.

  • Network Television: Consumers are no longer watching network television or, if they are they are, they’re using TiVo and DVRs to edit out commercial messages. Cable is the standard and OnDemand, as well as online versions of Netflix and Blockbuster have eliminated the need to find something to do during commercials. The old-fashioned 60 second sprint to the restroom during commercials has been dealt with by using the pause button.
  • Commercial Radio: Consumers are listening to dedicated satellite radio (e.g., XM-Sirius) instead of commercial radio stations or they are listening to their own music. Yes, the old-fashioned CD is still around. Does anyone even have a cassette player anymore? MP3s are built in to cars now, standard equipment. Of course, many listeners still do it that old fashioned way, they change the channel. Listener loyalty is only as powerful as the next commercial interruption. How much did you say you paid for a radio spot? Yeah, think again!
  • Newspapers: Newpapers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post are in trouble. The Huffington Post, a completely online news service will make more money this year than either. Time, CNN, and even the network news companies are scrambling to create an online image with blogs, social media strategies, and the like as fast as they can hire competent social media management.
  • Yellow Pages: When was the last time you used the Yellow Pages? A recent study revealed that consumers are no longer using the Yellow Pages to seek information prior to purchase but are going directly to search engines. The Internet has replaced the Yellow Pages as the vehicle of choice for consumer search. This means that more local consumers of goods and services are using the Internet to find local merchants, service providers, and professional services online. The report also revealed an increased usage frequency for online sources versus that of Yellow Pages usage. Not only is the Internet being used more than traditional print media, it is being used more often. This trend promises to increase over the next decade. Significantly, in 2008 62% of all consumer search activity involved the Internet, and that included an appallingly low 1% search via mobile phones. The mobile phone data is certain to explode in the next decade as most cell phones integrate fast and inexpensive Internet access. Yellow Pages search dropped to 30% and yellow pages-type directories are scrambling to gain a footing online, something they should have been doing a decade ago.
  • Direct Mail: One of the neat new tools used to gage reader attention online is called a heat map. The heat map tracks a reader’s eye movement online, that they read first and what holds their attention the longest. If there was a “heat map” in your home or office that tracked your pattern of activity, it would be bright red from the mailbox to “File 13!” The path from the mailbox to the garbage can is well-worn and the trip is made on complete auto-pilot. You have that much time and perhaps 3 seconds at the trash can to gain your reader’s attention long enough to get them to open what you have mailed…or it is gone forever. Interestingly, the same is true for websites. You have long enough for someone to “Blink” (read Malcolm Gladwell’s awesome book “Blink”) and it is over. The reality of the situation is, most direct mail and most websites fail to make the cut…gone forever!

The question becomes, if the numbers are so powerfully skewed in favor of the Internet and inbound marketing, why do I need to use outbound advertising at all? Given the current trend, why should I consider outbound adverting, wouldn’t it be wiser to invest solely in inbound marketing?

Great questions and I hear them time and time again. The answer is surprisingly simple, because there are three worlds and while the Internet is an incredibly powerful force, there is still an incredibly deep and broad segment of almost every audience that is not plugged into the Internet. Yes, there are instances where almost 100% of your efforts should be online. If you are selling Internet access, you might want to be online. However, you must also consider the person who is not currently connected but is looking for the right online solution. For that individual, you need to be offline in order to take the prospective client online. Yes, they will undoubtedly do their research but the right outbound advertising campaign will reach that prospective client too.

The secret to Outbound Marketing?

You need to be where your target audience is and the message must be targeted. And, the content must hold the prospective client’s attention long enough to convey the targeted marketing message and prompt them to act. You have 3 seconds! Gone are the days of the full page spread with a bunch of pictures and the headline:

Biggest Selection – Lowest Prices!”

Did that every work? I wonder!

Ultimately, and this is going to fly in the face of much of the conventional wisdom and be counter to what many of the marketing “gurus” will advise, but the final component is patience, taking a long view. Rome wasn’t born in a day and you are not going to see a response to most marketing campaigns overnight, that is unless you are willing to pay the search engines a lot of money to get the exposure you want or you are willing to pay the right consultant, one with a track record for being able to get their clients to page one organically, and keep them there.

So, direct response does not mean immediate response!

I tell all my clients, whether targeted outbound advertising or direct response, new media, inbound marketing, marketing is like farming:

First you plant, then you wait, and wait, and wait………and wait; and then, you harvest!

Most of what happens occurs below the ground, out of sight, and with seemingly nothing happening it is easy to become impatient and even disillusioned. However, there is a process, just beneath the surface, and if you are patient, if you take the long view, your harvest will be amazing.

If you take the short view and fail to continually nurture your fields (i.e., continue to promote consistently), you will end up failing to reap anything close to what is possible with the right approach and the proper perspective.

It is important to have a method of tracking results and it is also important to know when to quit and move on to something else, but taking a long view in marketing is crucial.

Finally, a balanced marketing campaign is essential, one that integrates the best of outbound advertising and inbound marketing into a cohesive and targeted message that works. It is imperative to integrate what works now, today, in 2010 and beyond and not what has worked in the past, in 1964 or 1974 or even 2004.

How do you know if it will work?

Test! Test! Test!

Here’s a final observation and a question for you to think about until next time:

A spot on page one of Google has an incredibly powerful impact on your business’ bottom line, particularly if it is maintained over time and across a number of keyword phrases. An additional spot on page one (e.g., one sponsored and one organic) will not generate twice the impact, the bump is at least 3 times as pronounced! That means you don’t get double the impact, you get three or more times the effect from a double listing on page one. Now, imagine you own most of page one for a given keyword phrase across a number of SERPs (search engine results pages) and across a number of search engines. Now imagine you are aggressively promoting proven, targeted outbound advertising strategies (e.g., targeted direct mail).

What sort of a bump do you think you can expect?

Unlike other marketing strategies that rely heavily on one marketing vehicle, a linked inbound marketing and outbound advertising program accelerate results and have a dramatic impact on your bottom line.

Hopefully, we are on the way to enhancing your awareness of marketing myopia. If you can recognize it, you can avoid it. Don’t fall victim to the marketing biases of your marketing consultant, a consultant or consulting firm advising a single pronged approach is much like a boxer with one arm, you are only going to get half the punching power. Yes, it may be directed…but imagine what you can do with both arms working together!

In the next article we will address various advertising platforms, as well as linked inbound and outbound marketing strategies for brick and mortar businesses.

Contact John Zajaros today for an in depth marketing consultation and competitive analysis.

John Zajaros

The Ultimate Internet Image
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
216-712-7004 (bus)
440-821-7018 (cell)