When I was in college, I had an internship at a B2B software company that I loved. Upon graduation, I remember how excited I was to interview for a full-time job and make my mark on the world. The problem? The only position they had available to interview for was inside sales.
“Can I cold call?”
I asked this question over and over again, and convinced myself that I could do it. I scheduled the interview. I bought a suit. I prepared endlessly.
It only took the hiring manager 15 minutes to figure out that I wasn’t a fit for the job. The interview was a waste of a good suit. While I was incredibly embarrassed, I was also relieved. I’d done enough cold calling during my internships that I already knew I hated it. From that moment on, I vowed to never cold call again.
Years later, I started Accelity Marketing. I knocked on doors, I emailed, I networked my heart out, and the whole time I couldn’t stop wondering: Do business owners have to cold call? The short answer is no.
Make prospects come to you: a crash course in B2B inbound marketing
By now you’ve probably heard of inbound marketing: a way to bring visitors to you instead of you going to them. Here’s a substantially more thorough definition (thanks, Hubspot!). Inbound is best fit for companies that sell business to business because the content that you produce educates prospects on complex industry issues, pain points that companies in that industry face, best practices to overcome challenges… you get the picture. Inbound marketing revolves around content creation and promotion to generate leads.
Whether you’re a one-man (or woman) company or a business with a marketing department, getting your first inbound campaign off the ground and gathering those first inbound leads won’t take long. Follow these steps:
What matters to your prospect? You should be able to answer this question quickly. Is your prospect a CEO that needs inspiration? A small business owner that needs actionable information? Does your target client have a short attention span? All of these questions should be used to dictate the type of content to create. Our CEO in need of inspiration will like an ebook with filled with big ideas. Our small business owner that’s ready for action wants a checklist or guide. Our prospect with a short attention span would appreciate a 30-second video. You get the picture.
Learn from my mistakes: Don’t go overboard. It took me forever to create Accelity’s first ebook. I demanded perfection, and I should have been aiming for the place between perfection and results. Draft your content. Have it designed by someone on Fiverr. Shoot a short video on your iPhone. Know the value of your time and outsource any piece of this process that you’re not comfortable with—the last thing you want is to feel the same way about B2B inbound marketing that I do about cold calling.
You have a website, right? You can put your first offer right on the front page. Take a screenshot of the cover, pair it with a contact form and you’re ready to start generating leads. Don’t know how to do this? Someone on Fiverr does, and I forgot to mention that all of the services on Fiverr cost only five dollars. Don’t have a website? Read our blog about how to make your website great, then get in touch with my friends at SmBiz.Website to get one up and running ASAP.
Learn from my mistakes: Know what to gate. When content marketing first became popular, marketers wanted to gate, or put a form in front of, everything—myself included. The catch here is that you can only gate content that your prospects see as valuable. Don’t gate a sell sheet. Don’t create an ebook that mostly talks about your company. It’s not going to serve your purpose and frankly, it’s going to make your prospects mad when they open your content and it is primarily promotional instead of educational.
Make sure there are links to your content all over the web. Here are a few ways to do that:
Learn from my mistakes: be a smart promoter. As a checklist lover, I once thought of content promotion as a task to check off. It isn’t. You have to make your messages personal so they doesn’t come across as spammy. Don’t just plant links with the title of your content; make sure your promotion is relevant and thoughtful.
Success! Give yourself a pat on the back, or my personal favorite, a self five. You completed your first inbound marketing campaign. Remember to keep promoting your content and keep it fresh (update every 6-12 months) for best results. Keep going like this and you’ll never cold call again.
What strategies do you use to avoid cold calling? Is there anyone out there that actually likes to cold call? Drop me a line on Twitter and let me know.