For the first time in the history of marketing, the same tried and tested marketing techniques used by large organizations are now equally available to small business owners. And, thanks to the internet, an ocean of tools, tips, infographics, touted by a myriad of experts are offered absolutely free.

But where is a business owner to start?

As an entrepreneur you may feel overwhelmed by how fast this “new” technology is moving, and are worried about getting left behind. Relax. Although InBound marketing is a fairly new term, it still pretty much follows fundamental selling principles we’ve been using for centuries. You’re in sales; you know them:

  • Build a trusting relationship with the prospect and get them to share their problems with you;
  • Empathize, and show you understand the issue. You might even share stories about others in similar circumstances.
  • Offer a solution, telling them how your product solved a similar problem one of your customers was having.
  • Gauge their response, and when the time is right, close the deal.
  • And the often-neglected step: rehash the sale. Ask for referrals and testimonies.

InBound marketing is no different. We just converted it to a digital format:

  • Change your mindset from “hard sell” to “alluring information sharing”. Build trust and establish yourself as a thought-leader in your industry – the person to do business with.
  • Focus on being remarkable. The more remarkable you are, the more likely people will share what you have to say.
  • Listen for pain points and educate them on solutions.
  • Don’t bother them until they indicate they are ready to buy.
  • Keep impressing customers, giving them a reason to refer you to others.

What I love most about the internet is that it is free! There are so many internet developers out there clamoring for your attention, with tools that are so fantastic I wonder how they make a living.

Here are four essential tools to get you started:

Be a wealth of knowledge: maintain a blog. Have your web designer add a blog to your site or start one freeat blogger.com. Think about the pain points your customers keep asking you about and write your answers on a blog. Be practical, include how-to’s and tips. This establishes you as the go-to thought leader as you build trust with your readers.

Selling is a conversation. Create a personal as well as a business account on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and add their social share buttons to your website. All these social media platforms are free. This is not the place to sell, but a place where listen to your audience and send them links to your blog and other places where they can find useful solutions.

Here’s the gist of Social. Facebook is a less formal platform where people post what’s going on in their daily lives. Use it to establish a personality for you brand. Twitter is more serious and “bussinessy”. You’ve got to be brief so give your two cents worth and add a link. People interested in doing business with you will look you up on LinkedIn. Think of it as your online resume. Nobody seems to like google+ except Google. Keep it in your mix to improve your chances of being found on Google.

Push your point via email. Don’t use your desktop email to market your business, it just wasn’t built for it. Open a free account on Mailchimp where you can store your email database and have the peace of mind that your emails stand a good chance of actually being delivered. Divide your database into lists that fit a certain persona. A persona is a group of people with similar lifestyles and interests that share similar pain points your products can solve. By dividing your contacts like this you are able to formulate messaging specific to each persona.

Email content should be around one topic at a time so that you can gauge interest. Come up with a headline that addresses a specific pain point and send your selected persona a brief description blog post with a link to the full article. Don’t forget the social share buttons at the bottom of your email and include a compelling picture to draw their attention.

Keep track and nurture. Read my blog about Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) software and select afree version that integrates with Mailchimp. As you’re interacting with a prospect or client on your database, pull up their profile to see what pages on your site they have visited, which of your emails they have opened and how well they interacted with you on social media. Use this knowledge to quickly assess their needs so that you can quickly move them through the sales funnel.

There’s a lot more to InBound marketing that described here. But I hope this post helps you make sense of how this new development can help you implement a sales system you are already very familiar with. Here’s my shameless plug: InBound will sap your time and distract you from the daily running of your business. Hire a pro to help you design and implement a solid InBound strategy and work out an messaging calendar that spans well in advance.

Read Even More:

Square 2 Marketing has a lot wisdom to share around InBound marketing. Check out this post about the success of InBound marketing and sales.
Hootsuite.com almost made it into my post. Check out thier article on how to set up social media accounts.
Here’s an easy to follow guide to help you use Mailchimp.