I read a great book a little while ago, called Inbound Marketing, and it got me thinking. Where else is it relevant? How can you apply this to business? But first, the background theory…
Tradition marketing follows an Outbound marketing model where the company sends out the information of their product/service to potential customers in the hopes of making the sale. With the sale, the customer is given value and through use they create a relationship with your company. Hopefully this will lead them to come back. (All TV and radio ads, Flyers, newspaper ads etc)
Sale -> Value -> Relationship
Inbound Marketing, works slightly differently. It aims to give away value first by providing something for free. Through this value offering you come back and the create a relationship with your company. Later down the line when they are immersed in and using your product, you make the sale. This is often done via a free trial or premium version. ( Blogs, Evernote, Flickr )
Value -> Relationship -> Sale
I have applied this latter philosophy to business, with varied but mostly positive success. What I tend to do is approach a business situation looking at what I can give them, where I can provide value. Along with the mantra of ‘Over deliver and under charge‘ I do my work focusing on providing value and on creating a positive relationship. (Which just happens to be easier with a focus on them) After we have a relationship, only then do I look at making the sale, or charging the full price of what my services are worth. Doing it at this stage also offers the opportunity to be a little more creative with the sale terms, like delayed or accumulative payments. This has normally resulted in me getting more than I could have possibly asked for up front. You do stand the risk of being used – which you have to watch closely – but overall I have not had a negative application yet, although the payment might not be in the form of cash. This often results in great contacts, skills learnt or other opportunities. At worst you can put the cost of time down to advertising.
So, even if you don’t take it to the extremes that I do maybe there is something that you can shift to revolutionize the relationships with your customers. After all its not what you do but who you know…