Every now and then comes along a book that you would want to keep by your side at all times for its sheer usefulness and readily-accessible hyper-valuable actionable knowledge. Inbound Marketing: Get found using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan & Dharmesh Shah, founders of HubSpot is one such.
This is compulsory reading for any business embarking on the social media path to boost their marketing efforts. What’s most remarkable about the book is its razor-sharp focus on practical and accessible ideas, tools, techniques that can be applied to your business immediately – no training required – by anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the web. If you can google, facebook, and blog, you can do the stuff in this book. All you need is to invest in time and some creativity.
Inbound marketing is about getting found online, through search engines and on sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter – sites that hundreds of millions of people use to find answers each day. In our conversations with our clients and marketers, it’s amazing how less an importance appears to be placed on this practically free marketing channel. But the rules have changed – the ‘four P’s” of marketing are diminishing in relevance. New skills need to be learnt. And this book is a great primer cum reference to get your started.
It gives a broad idea of Inbound Marketing, delves into how you can get found by prospects, gives some great tips on converting prospects to customers, and finally deals with how you can make better marketing decisions such as picking and measuring the right people and PR agencies and how to keep tabs on your competition.
Here’s a sampling of what we mean by actionable knowledge – 6 tips on building a LinkedIn group:
- Determine if a Group already exists using the Groups search feature.
- Determine whether there’s an opportunity to create a specific one in your industry or for your company/brand. Even if there are existing groups, the opportunity may exist if they are not well-managed or haven’t caught on yet (fewer than 500 members).
- Pick a name for your Group that describes your topic of interest and is something that people will potentially want to be a member of. Use the “I am a proud member of …” test remembering that when people join your group a small logo/badge for your group shows up on that user’s profile.
- Make sure you include your most important keywords in the description of your group. This way your group is more likely to show up in LinkedIn’s Groups search feature. Size counts, so you want to attract as many members to your Group as possible.
- Promote your group through your available channels. Put it in your email signature. Highlight it on your web site. Write a blog article about it. Send it out in your next quarterly newsletter. Post discussions from your Group to Twitter. This way you set off a virtuous cycle of success – more people join, more people see your Group’s badge on other people’s user profiles, and even more people join. Also consider using LinkedIn’s DirectAds to get some initial traction for your Group, which in turn helps you attract even more members.
- Build value in being a member of the Group. Send relevant and timely Group emails (not too frequently or be selling too hard – may risk seeming spammy). Post messages to the discussion area of your group. As the Group’s administrator, you can pin particular posts to the discussion form so that they get prominent placement and more likely to be seen.
Or sample this on why blogs are the “gift that keeps on giving”:
Every time you write an article that has links into it from other sites, that article can get found by people browsing the Web on those other sites forever. That same article can get found by searchers in Google for various search terms forever. That article might also attract visitors who might subscribe to your blog. The great thing about that blog article is that the page, the Google rankings, the links, and the subscriber are all durable assets. Once you write that article, it gives you value forever.
If you spend your energy and money on advertising this month, you will get some traffic from it, but you will have to pay again next month to get more. The blog article delivers value on a semi-permanent basis.
Inbound Marketing is chockful of such wonderful nuggets of information. We particularly liked “Tips from the Trenches” – three to five key things to remember when implementing stuff like writing blog headings, creating Facebook fan pages, and so on (there is also a great list of Tips from the Trenches for Start-ups at the end of the book). Inbound Marketers would also find the Tools and Resources (chief among which is www.InboundMarketing.com) a great “insta-resource” as they embark on their inbound marketing initiatives. Also of great utility are the “To-Do’s” at the end of each chapter – a “lab” session of shorts where you can put the things learnt into immediate action.
As David Meerman Scott notes in his Foreword to the book, we are now living a revolution wherein we have been “liberated” from the triple “tyrannies” of: marketing effectiveness being determined by the size of our wallets, having to interrupt people’s daily lives to try to market to them, and always relying on mainstream media to get our information into the marketplace.
This book is for those who want to live gloriously in that revolution, be liberated forever, have fun and get found by their customers.
Truly, as Guy Kawasaki notes about this book: “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 by reading this book.”