In the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, hears a voice that compels him to build a baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield. “If you build it, he will come.” The story is long and complicated but eventually, after Ray builds the field and almost goes bankrupt, members of the 1919 Black Sox team, led by Shoeless Joe Jackson, show up and play a baseball game.
The marketing gurus tell us that if we build a great website with compelling content, “they”, that is, our ideal prospects, will come. However, in most cases, they don’t.
Build it and they don’t come.
Here’s an example of that problem. You’re smart, experienced and an expert in content marketing. Your target markets are startups: companies and entrepreneurs who are just starting their business and need some help with content marketing, your area of expertise. You built a very nice website, wrote some very compelling articles about the ins-and-outs of content marketing and waited for your prospects to show up. They’re not!
Why Your Prospects Don’t Come
- Massive competition: There are thousands of people promoting content marketing, selling products and services around it, and writing about it. Although I think his content is very compelling, it’s only compelling if you get a chance to read it.
- If you do a Google Search for “content marketing” you get over 67 million results. Hopeless.
- If you do a Google search for “content marketing startups” you only get 3.2 million results. His company is not on either of the first two pages of Google results. Hopeless again.
I’m not sure how I could get any more specific with my search request to find his content. The sheer number of competitors will overwhelm you.
- Pay-to-Play: The reality is that Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have all trained us that we need to pay to play. Almost everything you see on those social media sites has been paid for except the posts or tweets. (Even some of those are paid.) The only reliable way to get noticed on the web is to pay these companies to get noticed. And, it is getting increasingly expensive to bid on keywords or positions that will drive traffic to your site.
- Changing rules of SEO: Google has done a great job of keeping us on our toes regarding Search Engine Optimization. Theoretically, they do most of their fine tuning to keep people honest, both on the content provider and content consumer sides. However, just about the time you think you’ve got everything set, they change the rules. For large companies with large budgets, keeping up is possible. For small companies, it becomes a fruitless exercise.
What does he—and the rest of us—need to do?
The big push in marketing today is inbound marketing and content marketing. Five years ago, it was all about outbound marketing (email, direct mail, tele-marketing, LinkedIn, tv and radio advertising, etc.) Inevitably, the pendulum will swing from inbound marketing to something else, like account-based marketing. As with most trends, the answer is not to put all of your eggs in one basket, in this case, inbound marketing. Like most good business disciplines, you need to have a mix of investments in inbound and outbound marketing and new approaches that will be developed in the future.
Today, the trick is to go out to people who meet the profile of your ideal customer. Identify who they are and how best to get to them. Find a variety of ways, a mix of approaches, that you can get to them. Coax them to visit your website where they can learn from your great content and eventually engage with your organization as they try to solve their business problems. Remember though, you have to find them, reach out to them and engage with them in a compelling way. They don’t come to you.
I have found no one that believes that there is only one way to gain new customers. It requires a careful, thoughtful mix of different tactics to attract the audience that will make a difference to your business. Outbound and inbound, together, will help you meet your goals.
Where are you on the inbound-outbound marketing scale? Let us know.