If you’re sick, would you rather research and purchase one treatment that works, or try a whole range of remedies that could work eventually? It’s a silly question. When health is at stake, most people would research before investing. Unfortunately, many businesses choose the other option.

Some companies expect big results from a marketing strategy without doing enough research about their target buyers. Of course, anyone who spends enough money and tries enough tactics is bound to find success somewhere, but at what cost?

Some people think of marketing as an unnecessary expense—and when it’s done incorrectly, they’re right. While we certainly won’t tell you not to spend money on marketing, we want you to invest in it wisely. This process starts with inbound marketing.

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
At its core, inbound marketing is about building relationships with customers. Inbound marketers provide content that their customers want in order to build trust and generate leads. While outbound strategies (print ads, TV commercials, etc.) have their place, they are 61% more expensive per lead than inbound strategies when used alone. To learn more about inbound vs. outbound marketing, check out our free eBook.

The following three principles of inbound marketing will help you maximize the impact of your investment:

Research, Research, Research
Before beginning, you must do in-depth research on your target market. Create buyer personas, which are individualized representations of your target market that help you empathize with your customers. Research and identify any pertinent information about your customers, including their interests, problems, needs, motivations, and more. These personas should be at the heart of every marketing decision you make. If you focus on what best suits your customers instead of overspending on broad tactics that may or may not reach them, you will see notable return on your investment.

Create Content that Meets Needs
Consumers make decisions based on their needs, so your content should offer solutions instead of just advertising your product. According to the Content Marketing Institute, over 70% of consumers prefer to learn about products and services through content rather than traditional ads. Use anything from online white papers to newsletters; just make sure the mediums you choose are convenient for your audience. Successful content marketing weeds out leads that aren’t interested in your products before you spend time and money trying to convert them into sales.

Be Where Your Customers Are
Not all organizations need profiles on all social media platforms. For instance, investing in Instagram ads is a good strategy for makeup companies because Instagram’s user base has a high population of young females. However, a thorough Facebook strategy would better benefit a publisher trying to sell books targeted at middle-aged couples. Once you’ve discovered which platforms your target market frequents, then you can begin strategizing.

Marketing is complex. While some people write it off as an extra expense, we know from experience that carefully researched marketing makes all the difference in a business’ success, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Check out our free eBook to get started today.