Inbound Marketing for beginners – Part 1

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Jay Dillon

Director of Strategy and Creative at Inbound Experts
Jay is a digital marketer and producer whose creative and technical skills have developed digital brand strategies and sales campaigns using a range of complex internet applications from stand-alone websites through to Facebook API integrations.
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The advertising industry has long been the butt of jokes, particularly because the excesses it has enjoyed stemming from the big-spending media culture of the 80’s.  For the time that I have worked in the industry I have always felt unease with the fact that success was essentially based on my ability to create campaigns that tricked people into buying a product.

It’s not like I sat up all night biting my nails over my role in the moral corruption and decay of society. But whether consciously or not, I have often wondered if there was another way to do this ‘selling stuff’ thing.

Where there is change there is usually opportunity and over the past few years we have witnessed consumers become increasingly advertising savvy and when combined with a maturing of the internet we have witnessed a seismic shift in the advertising industry. For this I am incredibly happy.

Introducing Inbound Marketing

I have keenly been following this fall-out and in particular taken an interest in the increasing popularity of a new marketing methodology called Inbound Marketing.

Inbound Marketing has its history in publicity and earned media, but super-charged through the power of consumer data and internet networks.

To explain to the uninitiated what Inbound Marketing is, I thought it best to start with what Inbound Marketing is not.

Inbound Marketing is the opposite of the way marketers have always promoted their products, services etc. That is to interrupt whatever it was their target audience was doing (ie, watching TV, reading a newspaper, listening to radio, watching videos online etc) with their carefully crafted ads.

These ads are designed to promote the products features and benefits as well as align with the viewers emotional needs and desires in order to persuade and manipulate.

Basically it’s all smoke and mirrors and, after 70 odd years of modern advertising methods, it appears the general consumer has become far too clever for this type of manipulation.

Additionally up until recently consumers got all their news and entertainment from TV, Radio, Magazines and Newspapers where marketers basically had a captive audience. Now these consumers get the same information from the internet and with the click of a mouse they can change ‘channels’ at a whim.

The smart ones even set up ‘ad-blocking’ software to foil the plans of marketers operating in this space.

So what’s a desperate marketer to do? We know it would be too much to ask all marketers to dump their traditional marketing plans altogether, however we do suggest that any current marketing plan should have a strong focus on Inbound Marketing techniques.

inbound_marketing_graphic

Image courtesy of Moz.com

How does Inbound Marketing work

Inbound Marketing is a marketing approach that focuses on being found and building trust with prospects through the creation and promotion of high-value content.

This content is developed specifically based on the needs and interests of the target audience and can include engaging articles, video, audio and even cartoons or illustrations.

Through the combination of consumer data and and online distribution networks it is possible to promote this content right at the moment a prospect requires it the most (e.g, doing research into a purchase, looking for entertainment).

It’s about providing value right at the time of need, without asking anything in return*.

Well, what’s the point then?

The point is that you are actually adding some value to your target audience rather than annoying them with ads that pop-up when they are reading a news article etc.

It’s an opportunity to prove your expertise on a subject, building trust with the prospect and through the power of online ‘sharing’ to encourage further awareness of your brand.

For me personally, it feels great to implement an inbound marketing plan as I know that everyone of those sales was made because I was able to build a relationship with the customer first, and then when the time came, they approached me with the prospect of becoming a client.

As we will see in the next part of the series although it is a longer route to making a sale, the benefits are huge and can result in more customers and more sales over the long-term.

*When it comes to business and marketing nothing is free, but we will get to that later

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