I’m presenting at Hubspot’s Inbound conference today, which marks my second time there with about six years distance in between. Has anything changed? No. Yes. But it would depend who you ask. There have been some really smart posts about the future of inbound marketing. I want to give you a simpler take than all that.
The Value of Inbound Marketing
Jacqueline and I completed our first Spartan race in August of 2014. Note that I say “first.” This is your first clue that the organization is doing something right. My friend, Chad, just completed what’s called a double trifecta. This means that Chad has raced the three main Spartan race distances (sprint, super, and beast) and completed those races twice. The Reebok sneakers at the top of this post? Those are only sold to people who have completed the Trifecta. You can’t even buy them without proof that you’re a pretty badass obstacle course runner.
You need only visit Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and countless blogs to see the legions of Spartans. They will share the heck out of their experiences. Pictures of smiling muddy people and happy barbed wire crawls abound. This is all inbound marketing. This is all earning a place in the ecosystem via sharing pieces of content. This is what every company wishes with all their heart they could capture when they are encouraged to try inbound marketing.
The biggest value of inbound marketing is earning the right to outbound market and direct sell.
There. I said it. Do you think Reebok is solely happy because they can create shoes that only a few hundred people a year can qualify to buy? No. But to every Spartan, to most Crossfitters (Reebok has a huge relationship with CrossFit as well), the company has earned the ability to poke us and prod us and say, “Hey, need new shoes yet?” And because of the warm affiliation with the event and the culture around the event, most people (let’s not say all) will be accepting of a little more sales and marketing activity than from someone who hasn’t earned that place.
I Do the Same Thing
When I sell you a seat to my blogging webinar or my professional development webinar, I’ve earned that through several interactions, through several “inbound” touches, through creating lots and lots of material that’s worth something for free. I’ve earned it through goodwill. I’ve earned it through repeat positive exposure.
The People Who Don’t “GET” Inbound
When people argue about inbound marketing, they say the same things:
- hard to track
- takes too long
- too custom, too one-on-one
You can say the same thing about love.
But the magic, the true magic, is that when done well, inbound marketing inspires emotional measures and markers that permit hardcore measurable business activity to transpire at a much higher level. That’s the pure and surgical no-BS “there’s your value” statement that I want to make.
You can say “Oh, Chris, that’s not touchy feely enough.” True. You can say, “Oh Chris, that’s not hardcore enough.” True. Inbound is and always will be a hybrid, that is, if you want to actually do something with it.
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