What Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson Teach Us About Inbound Marketing

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What Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson Teach Us About Inbound Marketing


Season two of the newer, hippier Sherlock Holmes recently premiered on PBS Masterpiece. Fans know that this version of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s private detective isn’t your great great granddaddy’s Sherlock. Instead, Holmes and Dr. Watson are investigating mysterious crimes in contemporary London, with the gadgets and technology we use everyday.

This Sherlock also has a surefire way of generating new business: blogging. The first episode of the second season features a montage of potential clients coming to Sherlock to solve their mysteries after discovering a blog maintained by Dr. Watson.

sherlock watson inbound marketing

Here’s just one of the interactions between the Watson and Holmes:

Holmes: Do people actually read your blog?

Watson: Where do you think our clients come from?

Holmes: I have a web site.

Watson: ...nobody's reading your web site.

That’s right. No one is reading your website. They’re visiting for the blog posts and downloadable eBooks, whitepapers and case studies that are entertaining, informative or both. But that’s not all we learn about inbound marketing from Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Don’t Sell, Tell a Story

While Sherlock’s website tells visitors what he does, Dr. Watson's blog tells visitors how he does it. Watson is a storyteller and creating an entertaining narrative around The Hounds of the Baskerville or The Blind Banker keeps people coming back to the blog.

Blogging Generates Buzz

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson become Internet sensations that not only bring in new clients, but also get the attention of the press. Through blogging, Dr. Watson has managed to build Sherlock’s reputation to the point where print and television news outlets amplify his reach.

Always Qualify Your Leads

Sherlock Holmes is the ultimate lead qualifier. While Watson’s blogs bring in potential clients, Sherlock shoots many of them down... even a guy who says he’ll pay any sum of money for his services. He knows his business plan, as well as what clients are worth having in his portfolio.

Show Success to the Person in Charge

At one point Dr. Watson shows Sherlock that 1,895 people visited the blog in just eight hours. Watson’s not shy about showing the boss how important it is to the business, even saying, “This is your livelihood.” And for many businesses, inbound marketing is just that.

Want to know more about blogging? Download our Blog Post Optimization Playbook.

Image Source: PBS.org


Awesome blog title, Dan! I'm a fan of the Sherlock Holmes movies. And now, my curiosity is piqued about this new TV show since it fuses old and new. 
Dr. Watson's blog is definitely more interesting because showing the "how" crimes are solved before its readers.
Posted @ Monday, May 14, 2012 2:13 PM by Alexandra Velez
Thanks, Alexandra. It's a great show, and obviously it has some very important life lessons.
Posted @ Monday, May 14, 2012 6:57 PM by Dan Stasiewski
Nice assessment of the difference between the two approaches. In the original stories, Holmes was keen on writing up monographs and scientific analyses of his interests. But he needed Watson as his biographer and chief storyteller to truly get people interested in his work. 
Oh, the hits on Watson's website? Sherlock later obsesses that the counter hasn't moved - an inside joke referring to the poem "221B" by one of the fathers of the Sherlockian movement Vincent Starrett, which contains the line "where it is always 1895." 
Posted @ Tuesday, May 15, 2012 8:23 AM by Scott Monty
Thanks, Scott. Even when things change, they stay the same.  
There's definitely room today for scientific (let's say technical, too) analyses as people move down the funnel or as you build a community of die hard fans. But as you point out, it takes storytelling to get people interested. It did in the late-1800s, and it does now. 
And the show... it's impressive how they handle the update with such love for the source material. Great TV.
Posted @ Tuesday, May 15, 2012 8:44 AM by Dan Stasiewski
good points here!
Posted @ Friday, May 18, 2012 2:38 PM by John
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