Inbound marketing, a strategy that focuses on attracting customers, or leads, via company-created content, is an effective way to draw potential customers to your business rather than vying for their attention. Today, the advertising and PR campaigns created by brands looking to court new customers, particularly end consumers, are truly remarkable. However, only a few companies have realized the power of optimizing marketing and sales activities in strategic brand licensing.
Traditionally, licensors have spent hours researching, calling and hoping to find the right licensee candidates. Some industry players simply waited for the next expo to capture the attention of new prospects or expected licensees to reach out to them for new business. The process was generally followed by a lengthy deal negotiation process.
Maintaining a strong network will always be key for brand licensors and agents looking to expand their operations. But the truth is, these contact methods are quickly becoming obsolete. Executing the so-called inbound optimization, in contrast, has helped licensing professionals penetrate all corners of the industry.
Nevertheless, many licensing companies are still wondering what inbound is all about, and how it can benefit their business.
In our opinion, the goal of the inbound marketing funnel is to create a customer journey—a clearly defined path that your prospective partners will go through at the very beginning of their experience with your brand online. Inbound funneling raise brand awareness among your target customer group and drives organic traffic to your site (and other digital channels). Opposite to outbound, this method may start long before your first face-to-face contact with your customer.
Here, we’ve created a step-by-step guide to help you get started today!
Understand Your Audience
Understanding your partner and the type of personas you will encounter are the first steps on the path to a successful inbound transition. To do so, your team needs to understand who your company’s target prospects are. Is it a specific type of licensees? Are they working within certain product categories? What about territories? Or partners with conflicting personalities?
Before your team even begins to research its target audience or define specific
personas, it’s critical that you outline specific goals for your brand licensing program. Doing so will help you understand exactly which website optimization tactics will boost your licensing partner acquisition.
Next, it’s time to outline the tactics you will use to capture your prospect’s attention online. Consider topics and causes that would interest your ideal licensing partners and compel them to visit your site.
Then, determine which content will work best on your website - it might be a blog, a podcast, or even a vlog. Remember that the goal of inbound marketing website optimization is to emphasize your brand’s value to your audience and provide reasons for visitors to convert to leads.
Keep in mind that our team should focus on generating content that will delight your ideal licensing partner, regardless of format.
Engage With Your Prospects
Now that you have a clear understanding of who your target prospects are and how you can hold their attention, it’s time to spring into action.
Today, there are endless ways to create engaging content but it is important to remember that the content you create should serve a specific purpose. For instance, if you decide to start a blog, you may want to write news-oriented, educational, or narrative-driven articles. The best format is the format that delivers the best value to your readers. Below find examples of topics your licensing partners may be interested to read:
- Licensing growth strategies and tactics (Licensor/Agent/Licensee)
- A look behind-the-scenes of product development
- Case studies of product ranges/collections
- Introductions to new style guides and content
- How your brand is making a splash in the industry
- Updates and news concerning your brand/agency/licensee
As you start filling your website with content, you will begin to identify the conversion points for lead generation. Conversion points are the points at which your website which require visitors to provide their contact details. In exchange for these details, visitors receive access to valuable material that extends their browsing experience.
There are a wide variety of lead generating materials at your disposal including ebooks, white papers and case studies among others which are commonly referred to as social proof.
Preparing case studies will allow you to demonstrate how you and your licensees developed your amazing brand licensing programs. You may also ask your existing partners to speak about their experience with your brand and the successful outcomes you have achieved together.
The trick here is simple—these materials enable you to request contact information from your visitors. Consequently, your marketing team can qualify fresh leads that can be passed on to the sales team.
Convert Your Readers Into Leads
Once you have established strong content and web optimization strategies and put them to work, you can rest assured that your efforts will solidify your brand’s thought leadership online and simplify the process of acquiring strategic licensing partnerships.
However, that alone is not enough to collect sales leads from your website.
Your team needs to build a strong rapport with readers, turning them into marketing-, and consequently sales-qualified leads.
Most importantly, the concept of conversion must not be mistaken for a sales push.
Rather, it's about guiding your potential licensing partners to the next step in establishing lasting collaboration with your brand.
Hence, your website should outline the easiest and most beneficial way to become your brand licensing partner. Here are a few tips you can use to make this happen:
- Create a page dedicated to your strategic brand licensing business, introducing your current partners, portfolio, unique brand attributes, etc.
- Invite your visitors to connect by sharing contact details on your website via a contact form on a Contact Us page.
- Optimize popups to subscribe visitors to your updates and news in exchange for the awesome converting material you have prepared.
- Suggest your visitors follow your brand’s social media accounts, where you can share essential updates concerning your licensing activities.
- Implement specific calls-to-action (CTAs) on your website to drive your visitors to take the desired action.
The key to successful lead conversion lies in delivering value to the audience. Your team’s task is to communicate that special aha! moment of partnering with your brand, so that potential licensing partners will see why they absolutely must engage with it. Therefore, your interactions with prospects (for instance, through marketing emails) should be designed with consideration of this principle.
Keep In Touch With Your Prospects
By now, you have done tremendous work optimizing your website to drive inbound leads. Congratulations!
Nevertheless, your efforts should not stop here, as the ultimate measure of your inbound funnel success are not only conversions but also return and retention rates associated with your target audience. A few techniques can help to achieve this:
- You may decide to execute regular email campaigns which you will design in your marketing automation software. This is an efficient option for active licensors and agents willing to go the extra mile in developing licensing partnerships.
- Alternatively, you may choose to score leads based on their priority and process them manually by sending personalized emails. In some cases, this is the most effective way of acquiring new licensing partners.
- Lastly, your sales team may decide to cold-call new prospects to get to know them better and build long-lasting relationships.
Whichever option you choose, aim for maintaining consistency in your actions, ultimately building your inbound marketing strategy around the selected method(s). Thereafter, you should continually monitor the post-conversion performance of your subscription list and the efforts of your sales team against your licensing KPIs.
It's quite likely that you will need the help of your digital marketer or developer to execute the changes listed above. However, it is not as difficult as it may seem, and your efforts will surely bear fruit. Your marketing team will be the first to discover the improvements in Google Analytics stats or another web analytics service.
All in all, being proactive in digital marketing and communicating your successes to your sales team will have a lasting impact on your strategic brand licensing, ultimately improving their quality.