7 Things Inbound Marketing Is Not

Financial advisors: You may be getting inbound marketing wrong. That is, if you know about inbound marketing.

New business acquisition remains the number one priority for RIAs, according to the Schwab 2015 RIA Benchmarking Study. For RIAs looking to create an additional income stream, inbound marketing is less intrusive to prospects than traditional outbound strategies. But what is it? Here are seven things inbound marketing is not:

1. Inbound Marketing Is Not Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing may have gone the way of the Pontiac, Plymouth and Oldsmobile (although the Pontiac Bonneville, Plymouth Barracuda and Oldsmobile Toronado were swell cars in their day).

Old-time outbound marketing included — and still includes — such marketer-centric and interruption-based methods as cold calling, unwanted emails, banner ads, wholesaler walk-throughs, and print, radio, and television advertising. All things that generally interrupt. Think: megaphone.

Inbound marketing, by contrast, is permission-based: it seeks to educate and inform prospective investors and clients when they are ready to hear from you. It’s about making your website a leading salesperson. Prospects find you from their initial web search — if you have a relevant blog post, ebook, white papers, video, or other content with consonant keywords and SEO infrastructure. Think: magnet.

Inbound marketing is based on knowing your customers (their “personas”) and creating and leveraging content simply for them. Your content should act like a magnet, to capture your prospect's attention — so they come bounding in to your for more helpful information.

2. Inbound Marketing Is Not a Campaign

While a campaign or promotion may focus on a single service or product for a specific period of time, inbound marketing is an overall marketing strategy, and a long-term strategy at that. Inbound marketing seeks to educate and provide value to prospective clients by delivering useful content at the right place at the right time to the right people. A campaign seeks to sell a product or service. Inbound marketing looks to build long-term brand reputation. A campaign is a small part of inbound marketing.

3. Inbound Marketing Is Not Content Marketing

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” While some use the terms interchangeably, inbound marketing and content marketing are not one in the same. Inbound marketing is the philosophy and strategy; content marketing is the tactical approach to going inbound.

4. Inbound Marketing Is Not Just Social Media

Social media is a distribution channel for the content of inbound marketing. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube (and Instagram, Pinterest, Slideshare and more) are ways to get your message out. Social media is not the message, and not in and of itself inbound marketing. Social media becomes inbound when the content you create is seen, when your prospect clicks on your post, attends to the call to action, and becomes a lead, prospect and happy client.

5. Inbound Marketing Is Not More Expensive

While there are costs involved in setting up, monitoring and continually optimizing an inbound strategy, the long-term costs in terms of lead generation have shown to be lower than traditional marketing. For firms with annual revenue between $250,000 and $10 million, the average cost per inbound lead in companies was $26 to $50, some 60% lower than via traditional marketing, according to HubSpot.

HubSpot also estimated that businesses of similar revenue on average have saved approximately $20,000 annually by going inbound.

6. Inbound Marketing Is Not a Sales Substitute

Client dinners, social events, seminars, conference speaking, book writing, referral programs and other sales activities of course continue to drive asset growth and new client acquisition for RIAs and financial advisors. Like they say, don't give up your day job.

7. Inbound Marketing Is Not an Overnight Success

Don't expect results overnight. New leads won’t necessarily flow in the first few days, weeks or months after introduction. Be patient. Build content, relevance, momentum. Over time, say, six to eight months, you may see more and compounded website traffic, qualified leads, appointments, new clients. HubSpot reported in 2014 that it took seven months for 84% of companies using inbound marketing to see an increase in leads. Within a year from introduction, you may see significant growth in site traffic and clients. The average firm, HubSpot said, saw a 6.12x increase in leads in the first year. Inbound is not a sprint — it’s a marathon.

As with all disciplined programs, whether losing weight or building muscle, the particulars depend on discipline and effort. With inbound marketing, the more content you have — blog articles, social media posts, ebooks, podcasts, videos, infographics and the like, and the more refined and on point your SEO is — the more likely prospects will find, click and act.

What inbound marketing is for RIAs and financial advisors: an indispensible long-term tool for generating revenue growth.

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