Inbound Marketing is the new “Plastics.”


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In this clip from the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” recent college grad Ben (portrayed by a young Dustin Hoffman) gets some career advice from a family friend. This advice describes the brave new world Ben is about to enter, and is condensed to one simple word: Plastics.

Today, the future of marketing can also be described by one simple word (well, two actually): Inbound Marketing.

In a nutshell, Inbound Marketing (also known as Content Marketing) is about building a marketing platform where customers come to you rather than you having to find them. It is about creating an array of helpful content in all forms and distributing it across the channels where prospects and customers are educating themselves about products and services. It is not about pushing sales messages, but rather giving prospects the content that allows them to conclude that your organization is the one to trust (and by association, to buy from).

As an illustration of this process, let’s look at how customers make purchase decisions in this post-digital age. Research shows that nearly 80% of all shopping journeys involve the Internet. It could be to learn more about products, compare prices, read third-party reviews, ask questions, find a store, download coupons or discount codes, or purchase. Inbound Marketing gives you a seat at the table. It allows you to “be there” while customers are searching, and provide custom content that will aid them in their customer journeys.

And most of all, we know Inbound Marketing works. One study from Wishpond shows that leads developed through Inbound marketing close at a rate TEN TIMES HIGHER than prospects attracted by outbound marketing.

Given that Inbound Marketing is the new Plastics, how can you prepare for this future? Here are four ideas that will help.

1. Be clear on what you want customers and prospects to feel about you.

That’s right, feel. Facts get forgotten, claims get discounted. But feelings become deeply embedded in our consciousness, and are proven to help you earn a position in your customer’s mind.

Find out what your most loyal customers love about you–what you do better than every other provider out there. Then figure out how you can make that aspect present at every go-to-market opportunity. It pays to be simple. Look at how some of the most revered brands in the world have handled this. Nike IS performance. FedEx IS reliable. Southwest IS the low fare airline. Apple IS intuitive, design-forward technology.

What are the one or two words you can stand for in your category that no one else is standing for?

2. Hire professionals to bring your strategy to life.

Creating a robust Inbound Marketing program isn’t as easy as administering a Facebook page. Social networks are primarily for those who already know and like you. They are ways of keeping fans engaged with your brand. It doesn’t take a PhD to develop this kind of content yourself.

Inbound Marketing, however is radically different. It is creating and disseminating all the things that influence prospects to come to you.

Inbound Marketing is about creating customers. About influencing decisions.

To be successful at Inbound Marketing requires two things: the content that people will seek out and want to engage with, and a plan to make sure this content is easily found.

This is where specialists can spell the difference between quantifiable success and a fits-and-starts program that struggles to gain traction.

Expert content providers can plan and create the kind of content that consumers are looking for. They can ensure you have a consistent presence. They can provide relevant content to prospects no matter where in the marketing funnel they are.

And SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts have the know-how to make sure your content gets found. They know how to tag your content so it organically shows up. They can help determine which “long-tail” terms will generate the most bang. They can help you tell your story through search.

3. Quit with the “corporate” talk.

It’s important to find a personality and a voice for your company. Studies show people are more likely to engage with you if you sound human. So avoid the corporate-approved pap, and talk to customers like the people they are, with real needs and real concerns.

4. Reuse, recycle and reimagine.

It takes a lot of time and effort to produce a constant stream of useful content. So make sure you milk it for all it’s worth.

Blog posts can be combined to create whitepapers. Case studies can make compelling videos. Dry instructions can be reimagined as how-to videos. Corporate presentations can make interesting SlideShares. Customer questions can be the basis for podcasts or webinars. And “evergreen” content can be revisited again and again.

As your content vault grows, turn your organization into a “content chop-shop.” Great content not only lives forever, it can live forever in many forms.

As you’ve no doubt experienced, it’s a new age in marketing. The customer’s journey has changed. More and more customers want to educate themselves. Custom content will play a more and more important role in this process.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


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