In a blog post, Rich Mcelnany asked the question, "Does Inbound Marketing Mean I Can Give Up Those Chamber Meetings?" I 100% agree with his answer, "But I don't think I'd ever recommend foregoing those person-to-person connections at industry events and local networking meetings." I'd take it a step further and recommend that businesses learn how to mix their 1-on-1 networking activities with their online marketing, in order to achieve greater lead generation results.
When introducing the concept of inbound marketing to people who are unfamiliar with it, I've heard lots of different uninformed objections:
- My target audience is not online.
- All of my customers hear about me from other customers.
- I prefer introductions from people who know me.
- I only want local customers.
- People who find me through my website never end up doing business with me.
My next two questions are, "Do you get most of your business from referrals?" and "Do you get enough referrals, consistently enough, to get to your revenue goals?". The usual answer is "yes" and "no". So, we then introduce them to inbound marketing.
Unfortunately, many times, people see "inbound marketing" as something entirely different from their 1-on-1 networking, designed to produce a different and separate stream of leads. That's the wrong way of looking at it. Companies should see the two as inter-twined. When combined, they both will have better results. Imagine, for example, the following scenarios:
- Your best customer subscribes to your blog, leaves testimonials on blog posts and shares their comment on social media with the people who are connected with them.
- A person finds you from a google search, downloads your whitepaper and shares it with their boss, who happens to know you already from a previous employer. They hire you.
- You send an email to your list of trusted contacts and 20 of them decide to forward it to other people. 1 of the people who receives it eventually becomes a client.
- You blog about a local networking event and then share it with the people you met there, as well as the organizers. Some of them subscribe to your blog and the organizer invites you to join a private dinner with all of their event sponsors.
- You see a friend ask a question on Linkedin Answers and you leave a link to a relevant blog post written by someone who has helped you with the same problem. They hire that person and both thank you for making the connection.
All of these things have happened to me or to someone else I know who has successfully combined inbound marketing with business networking.
As a final thought, I'll share some data. As I shared in a post a few weeks ago, I had stopped blogging a few years ago. In the meanwhile, I've been very busy. We've signed up 900 marketing agencies as customers and partners of HubSpot. The only online activities I've been involved with personally are my twitter account and occasionally posting to the HubSpot Partners forum. When I relaunched my blog, I leveraged those two things to drive traffic. In the graph below, you can see the impact that social media can have when combined with a blog when combined with my real world connections.
And I'm just getting [re]started. Once my inbound networking group for inbound marketing agencies is up and active, we'll be showing the power of real world networking combined with inbound marketing.
How have you combined inbound marketing with business networking?