(Editor's Note: Today's guest post is courtesy of event pro and social marketing genius Patrick Rife of Pixilated Photobooth and Startup Soiree. Read more about Patrick at the end of the post!)
I've been learning about inbound marketing for a few years now in preparation for the day I'd be able to start using it at my business, Pixilated. For whatever reason it took a little bit of time for me to wrap my head around how an Inbound marketing plan would work for us. I wanted to write an article about what I've learned to share with other events industry professionals who are either on the fence about inbound or open to entertaining new ways to grow their businesses and just wanna learn.
So.....What is Inbound?
A great way to think about inbound marketing is understanding the "Pay It Forward" concept. Inbound is all about creating interesting and valuable pieces of information, designed in a creative format, that you offer for FREE on your website. The idea being that good business relationships are built on trust - so when you create pieces of helpful content to offer a prospective lead (as opposed to badgering them to fork over their e-mail), you build trust and authenticity.
Now that we have the inbound philosophy part out of the way you may still be saying to yourself, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, the philosophy is all well and good, but I still don't get it. What is Inbound Marketing?" One example is a free e-book educating your lead on what's great about your industry (also maybe what isn't so great!). What they should look for, what they should look to avoid. Provide some good examples of what a quality version of your product looks like. Dig?
Why should I be doing it?
Growth. From my perspective I want Pixilated to carve out a specific niche for ourselves while continuing to have robust growth. The level of analytic data that an inbound campaign will produce is invaluable because it can help to define who is buying your product and for what purpose.
Let's face it, the events industry is a competitive space. Without applying some serious, regimented, business acumen to the sales process, it's always going to be that way. We're looking forward in our business to a time when we can't handle every lead in a one-on-one fashion. Not because we don't want to but because our business aspirations are greater than that. I want my company to get to a place where "lead generation" is one small part of a greater system that has a plan and process by which it succeeds without my constant diligence. Sounds nice, right?
How would it work for my brand?
Now you're seeing the value of the idea but maybe you're not sure what type of offer would work for your brand. I got you! Since I was writing this article specifically for the events industry I took some time and brainstormed some industry specific offers that I think would be killer pieces of inbound content:
1. If I were a florist, I'd create a fun infographic for my wedding clients using Canva, to illustrate the different flowers available in the different seasons and what pairs well with those arrangements.
2. If I were a DJ service, I'd create a weekly playlist that my potential leads can subscribe to for great tips on excellent, classic wedding jams but also the freshest new songs to "bring it" on the dance floor.
3. If I were a design studio I'd put together a beautiful collection of great photographs of my best work, helpful tips for choosing a designer and maybe a few excellent quotes from client reviews.
Systems for Inbound
Inbound marketing is getting more and more popular every day, which means there are more and more systems options on the market every day. Why? Aside from all the reasons I mentioned above, it works! At Pixilated, we use a hybrid system for our web presence, with Squarespace for our primary website and Hubspot for all of our inbound content as well as our blog, mailing list, social scheduling tools and CRM.
It's also possible to setup an Inbound system on the Wordpress platform as well, and to be totally honest I think you can do it much more cheaply there, too. However, for what it's worth, the seamlessness of the Hubspot platform is a godsend, and setting up an a la carte system isn't without its own challenges.
Previously, we used Mailchimp for our list, Hootsuite for our social scheduler, Wordpress for our website, etc. Now we have it all in one place so we can look at how each piece works together, where the weaknesses lie, and most importantly what's producing the most amount of Dolla, Dolla Bills Y'all!$!$!$!
Well, that's my primer on inbound marketing for the events industry. Have some ideas? Wanna learn more? Curious what else goes on in my brain? I wanna hear from you! Also, leave some comments below if you're using Inbound marketing in your events business.
Patrick Rife is the co-founder and co-owner of Pixilated Photo Booth, as well as the co-founder of Startup Soiree, a monthly "founders only" meetup of business owners and innovators. You can contact him directly via email, and grab a complimentary copy of the Pixilated E-Book "How to use a Photo Booth to Promote Your Brand."