This is a guest post by Paul Roetzer, founder and president of PR 20/20 , a Cleveland-based public relations and marketing firm , and the industry's leading provider of standardized services and set pricing .
In Marketing 101, we are taught the four Ps of traditional marketing - Product, Price, Place and Promotion. While these fundamental elements are still relevant, they may not be as important in business today as the four Ps of inbound marketing - Personas, Participation, Publishing and PageRank.
Inbound marketing refers to permission-based marketing strategies (e.g. blogging, social networking, search engine optimization) in which you connect with consumers online when they are actively looking for what you offer.
The result is a more measurable, efficient and effective lead-generation system, powered by social media relationships, Website traffic, inbound links and search engine rankings.
So let's take a look at the four Ps of inbound marketing:
Buyer personas are the foundation of highly effective inbound marketing campaigns. Essentially, a buyer persona is a profile or biography on a distinct market segment (e.g. customers, prospects, mainstream media, bloggers) you plan to reach and influence.
According to D avid Meerman Scott (author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR), some of the key questions to ask when building your buyer personas include:
What are their goals and aspirations?
What are their problems?
What media do they rely on for answers?
How can you reach them?
What's important to them?
What words and phrases do they use?
What sort of images and multimedia appeal to them?
You also want to consider their social technographics profile:
How active are they in social media?
Do they blog?
What social networks do they participate in?
Do they use RSS feeds?
Well-crafted buyer personas help your organization build Websites and publish content that differentiate your brand, build relationships, connect with consumers and generate leads.
"Once every hundred years, media changes. The last hundred years have been defined by the mass media. In the next hundred years, information won't be just pushed out to people: It will be shared among the millions of connections people have." - Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder (Rolling Stone, June 26, 2008)
In the above quote, Zuckerberg was specifically addressing the evolution of advertising, but it captures the impact of social media on business and society.
The social Web (aka Web 2.0) has given businesses the opportunity to share knowledge, influence audiences and affect change, internally and externally, like never before.
At the same time, it gives the general public virtually unlimited access to information, and the power to influence the opinions and actions of consumers and businesses around the world, 24 hours a day.
So what can businesses do in this world of consumer-generated content and mass collaboration? Participate.
Monitor RSS feeds from your favorite blogs, forums and news sites.
Comment on blogs.
Utilize social networking sites (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.).
Post ratings and reviews.
Contribute to forum discussions.
Connect with people on Twitter (customers, peers, influentials, etc).
Inbound marketing is powered by content - blogs, podcasts, videos, optimized press releases, case studies, white papers, eBooks and articles. And unlike traditional outbound marketing, in which you have to buy space in print media or airtime on broadcast media, the social Web has created an almost endless array of low-cost and free distribution channels to directly reach and influence consumers.
Every business should have a content publishing strategy designed around the needs and interests of its buyer personas. Success comes from a long-term commitment to continually publishing high-quality, relevant content that earns links and dramatically improves your probability of ranking for keywords on major search engines.
PageRank is a numeric value (0-10) assigned to Web pages that was originally developed by Google co-founder Larry Page while at Stanford in the mid-90s. Page theorized that you could rank a site's popularity by counting the number of (inbound) links pointing to the Website.
Page also realized that some links were more valuable than others, and PageRank was designed to give greater weight to inbound links from important Websites.
So while Google states there are " 500 million variables " considered in calculating PageRank, inbound links are widely believed to be the most important.
Search engine optimization (SEO) and content publishing are the two key inbound marketing strategies your organization can employ to build inbound links, increase PageRank and bolster your search engine rankings.
According to comScore , Google controls an estimated 63 percent of the U.S. search market, which equated to 7.4 billion core searches in August 2008.
What do you think? How relevant are the traditional four Ps in business today? What are your thoughts on the four Ps of inbound marketing? How important is PageRank to a site's performance and influence?