We tend to think about inbound marketing by its tools rather than its strategy. When asked "what is inbound marketing?", most people respond with something like "blogs, social media and seo". Those are some of the important tools, but they are not the essence of this new media approach to marketing. What are the fundamental principles? It's as easy as A-B-C.
This is what we're shooting for as individuals and organizations. We want to be the go-to source for information and judgement in our business sector. That's what will attract people to our website, our blog, our presentations and ultimately to our products and services. Why do you go to Google or WebMD or CNN? Because of their branding? Because they work well? I doubt it. It's because they are authoritative. You trust that you will find what you are seeking, and you know that they are the best in their fields.
So how do you attain such lofty status? You start by assuming that you are the authority, and you start acting like it. You take pride in every piece of content you publish and every comment you make on someone else's content. You strive for accuracy, completeness and relevance. You participate and try to help the conversation along towards something meaningful and helpful.
You have to stop thinking about how inbound marketing will help you achieve some goal. That's the old marketing. Think instead about what you can do to help. To paraphrase a very old and pretty well known text, "give and ye shall receive". Make your daily content helpful and your free webinars, e-books and podcasts even more helpful. Don't worry so much about the SEO, inbound links and calls-to-action. Yes, those are important, but do they dominate your beneficial content? I see this happening way too often, even in our own materials. Keep it real and deliver real value. The rest will follow.
Inbound marketing is a "long-tail" strategy. Success doesn't happen overnight. It takes a sustained, consistent effort over time to reach your market and build your authority. There is no quick-strike strategy that will work, and making a splash every now and then will not build the kind of lasting brand awareness we all seek. Your strategy must emphasize daily activities as well as long-term goals. The real winners work hard at inbound marketing every day and strive for excellence in every task they perform. If you want to see a nice steady increase in traffic, sales and brand awareness, make it a daily commitment.
Hey, this is a conversation, not a sermon. What are your ideas about the fundamentals of inbound marketing?