inbound marketing—the art of making buyers come to you

I’m at the Inbound conference in Boston this week, learning lots of exciting stuff about how to attract attention and generate new business for my clients. I can’t wait to share some of these insights with you, so here’s a quick bulletin with my first impressions from the event.

Hubspot, the organization behind the conference, defines inbound marketing as follows:

Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close and delight over time.

Good examples of inbound marketing include your blog content, online articles, website content, valuable email marketing (in other words, content that helps your reader rather than giving them a sales pitch), social media, and other tools that engage the interest of your prospects by encouraging them to form a closer relationship.

Stated more simply, the key to inbound marketing can be summed up like this: it’s about helping, not selling.

why is inbound important?

Many business owners are reluctant to launch inbound marketing campaigns because they seem to give a lot away for free, but the results are well worth it. Take a look at these figures from the conference:

  • 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information from a series of articles rather than an advertisement.
  • 79% of marketers with a company blog reported inbound ROI for 2013.
  • 43% of companies have acquired a customer through their blog.
  • 60% of the sales cycle is over before a prospect ever talks to a salesperson, because they’re researching online, consuming social media content, and scanning content from other sources.

So why aren’t more companies doing it? The most common reasons are because they don’t know what to write about, don’t have the time, or don’t have someone managing the process. Luckily, these obstacles are easy to overcome.

you don’t need original content every month to be a thought leader

One of the best things about inbound marketing is you don’t have to generate all-original content. You can curate existing content from other sources. Even though you’re not generating all the content yourself, you can still establish yourself as an authority by filtering the billions of stories available online for your readers.

Forbes recently described content curation as follows:

In simplest terms, content curation is a form of content marketing where a publisher (in this case, a small business) editorially collects the best content related to a specific niche and targeted to a specific audience then enhances that content by adding personal opinions and expertise. (From “5 Ways to Use Content Curation for Marketing and Tools to Do It”.)

Here are a few best practices for how to do this right and avoid the risk of plagiarism or “scraping”:

  • Always credit your sources (see this article from mashable for tips).
  • Provide a link back to the original source. It’s not just a best practice; it’s good etiquette. Sources appreciate this courtesy, and will sometimes re-post links to your content as thanks for giving them more exposure.
  • Use multiple resources and add your own comments or insights. Even though you’re curating the content of others, any way you can make your perspective unique increases the appeal of your own inbound marketing to your readers.
  • It’s always OK to retweet or share on Twitter and Facebook—that’s the point!
  • Use quotes when appropriate to note what someone else wrote or said.

Finally, inbound marketing is most effective when you follow the 80/20 rule: about 80% of your content should share insights that are relevant to your readers, while only 20% should be soft promotional material. Again, no hard sales pitches.

need help creating or redefining your own inbound marketing? call me.

Whole Brain Creative can help you develop inbound marketing that inspires buyers and encourages loyalty to your company. Call or email us for a no-obligation consultation: 503.325.4485 or [email protected].

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