This is a guest post from Todd Hockenberry, owner of Top Line Results (@TopLineResults), a sales & marketing consulting and services firm that specializes in working with manufacturing companies. Todd is an expert at both sales and marketing and sees around the corners that most don't know exist yet...
While reading some of my favorite blogs, I came across the following trends that lead me to believe that the inbound networking movement is a significant opportunity for small businesses and solopreneurs. The trends...
Trend 1: Outsourcing, while nothing new, continues to grow and is expected to keep growing according to this survey by Deloitte.
All of these categories are areas where companies outsource a significant amount of business. The number of companies planning to outsource more of their sales and marketing support is more than double than the companies currently doing it.
Trend 2: Data shows that the size of the average business is getting smaller. The distribution of businesses by size shows a relatively few giant corporations, a narrower center made up of a shrinking number of mid-sized firms, and a large and rapidly growing number of small, micro and one person (solopreneur) firms.
Trend 3: Large companies are employing less people full time and more people on a contingency basis. The contingent share of the work force working at larger firms (those firms with over 1,000 employees) has grown steadily in the last few years.
The US Census says that large firms (1,000 or more employees) employ around 53 million Americans. Some quick math says that these large firms have added about 2.7 million total contingent workers - in the US - over the last seven years. Another survey, a recent Aberdeen study showed that 26% of the total corporate workforce is contingent.
Trend 4: One more seemingly obvious (to most inbound marketers) and at the same time obscure (in its depth) trend is toward the use of big data by small companies.
I will use an example from politics. It seems that politicians segment and use persona development as well as any inbound marketer I know. As crazy as it sounds, it seems my beer choice factors in to who I might vote for...
Voters are micro-targeted by the car they drive, the soft drinks they buy, where they eat, where they shop, what they watch on TV, music, radio... you name it. This shows that there is almost an infinite number of ways to chop up data and develop target personas, so that very niche businesses can target very refined prospects.
When you put all of these trends together, you can start to see the potential of inbound networking:
- millions of people are starting solo or small businesses (me being one of them),
- companies are outsourcing work to these soloprenuers at rates that will only increase,
- and data is available to help these solopreneurs define and attract their target personas, no matter how niche.
Inbound marketing is necessary to help make the right connections! These small businesses/soloprenuers/contingent workers need to market their services and get found by prospects. Companies need to find these people because these companies are not hiring full time employees as often and want to hedge their bets by hiring small businesses/soloprenuers/contingent workers. Data exists to target to very specific markets for these small businesses/soloprenuers/contingent workers.
Inbound networking will be necessary to help these small businesses do inbound marketing cost-effectively! Think about all of these small businesses and the challenges they have to just stay afloat, let alone devote enough time to do inbound marketing aggressively. Content creation will be a constant challenge. Very few very small businesses will be able to build enough authority and relevance with the search engines in order to get found by enough prospects.
In order to establish themselves, solopreneurs and small businesses will need to work together with complimentary businesses. They'll need to create an inbound marketing network effect by helping each other attract a larger audience, then cross-marketing and cross-selling each other's services.
There are certainly many trends that are driving the rapid growth of inbound marketing and inbound networking. How are you going to take advantage of them?