Let’s talk about: Inbound marketing

This isn’t exactly a ‘get to know the future’ piece. It’s more about the now. Inbound marketing is more than a buzz term. It’s more than a passing trend. When you hear those business owners and representatives at marketing events from the ever-growing category of millennial entrepreneurs talk about inbound marketing they’re talking about a technique that’s engrained in their very way of life: drawing-in customers by way of content marketing, e.g. branding through social media marketing and search engine optimization. If you’re from a generation that was socially and culturally conscious enough to remember NBC’s early 1980s marketing campaign ‘Be There’ then the endgame of inbound is best explained as the antithesis of that. ‘Be There’ was the ultimate outbound marketing campaign. It packaged disparate television shows from unrelated primetime lineups into compilation commercials set to upbeat music with the underlying message being if you love one NBC show, you’re going to love them all. It was pushy. And ineffective. After all, Mama’s Family and Cheers weren’t comparable and their demographics rarely crossed over.

Inbound marketing doesn’t push a product under the nose of a prospective client the way ‘80s television advertising did; it pulls them to it like Pluto the dog floating through the air as one of Minnie Mouse’s cooling window sill pies seductively beckons to him.

Here’s another analogy: Netflix’s ‘Because you watched’ category. This ever-popular feature is not dissimilar from search engine optimization. You watched Jaws and your wife made you watch 90210 so now Netflix suggests Sharknado, a B movie of epic proportions that may have not come under your radar if you don’t have cable television. Netflix has a categorical wait list of movies and shows and documentaries that is designed using the four principals of inbound marketing: attract, convert, close, and delight.

For a lot of startups inbound marketing gets off the ground by first creating a buyer persona. Basically that just means thinking like your ideal customer and taking a brand-client approach. When Netflix saw that I liked Jaws and that I made it 36 minutes into Sharknado they took a leap and suggested a nature documentary about New England narrated by Richard Dreyfus and Ian Andrew Ziering. When I take the bait as it were and watch the hypothetical PBS special they have in one swoop attracted me, converted me, closed the deal, and provided me with delight.

The big advantage Netflix has in the inbound marketing game is content. It’s all about content. And that’s where a blog comes in. Whether your blog is an element of your social media presence or it’s hosted on your website there’s nowhere better to tell your story and address the needs and wants of your prospective clients. Write about your competitors, your inspirations, your suppliers, and your partners. It’s all about keywords. Sit yourself on the couch next to your dream client and remember the ‘Because you watched’ mantra. It will never fail.

 

By David MacDonald