Creating and sharing useful content can help you attract and retain customers.
In my experience, some entrepreneurs think marketing is a necessary evil. You may even be one of them. But when it’s done right, it’s the engine that will help your business grow.
Yes, I know you’re going to build a killer product that people are going to love. Marketing can help you find people to love it. And, yes, you can hire a PR agency and hope for “free” publicity. That’s fine—but what are you going to do during the other 363 days? You need to invest in marketing.
The trick is homing in on the right kind of marketing. The best marketing is inbound, which is basically doing what you do best: helping customers. Inbound marketing is about creating content that is useful for your potential customers and using it as a tool to bring people in.
Startups and small businesses should not participate in an arms race for attention. You won’t win by shouting louder, getting bigger ads or buying a bigger booth at the trade show. In fact, you can’t: Your larger competitors have massive marketing budgets, and you will never be able to outspend them. As a small business, you need to find marketing that gives you leverage where you get disproportionate, long-term returns given the investment.
Inbound marketing focuses on attracting people by providing value instead of pushing your way in. The most common way to do this is to create content that is helpful, optimize that content and spread it.
Great content can come in a number of forms. The most common and useful include blogs, photos, infographics, videos, podcasts, presentations, e-books, software and tools. When creating content, think about the type of information that will be most helpful for your customers. Relevant and useful content makes people happy.
The next step is to optimize that content for search engines. Did you know that there are nearly 6 billion searches on Google every day? Maybe a few of those people would be interested in your product. Basic search engine optimization can help maximize the potential of those searches and drive organic traffic to your site.
After you’ve created content and optimized it, you have to spread it. Social media can help. It takes some time, but it’s a great way to take that awesome content you’re producing and spread it farther. Keep in mind that the easier your content is to share, the more people will share it.
By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.
Dharmesh Shah is the founder and chief technology officer at HubSpot, the world’s leading inbound marketing and sales platform.