We Practice What We Preach: Inbound Marketing
At the risk of being considered unprofessional, I wanted to write about the similarities between a religion and inbound marketing.
I know you’re not supposed to talk about religion and politics in a business setting, but in this case, I think it’s exactly what we should be discussing.
There are a lot of different definitions for religion. Here’s one: “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.” For a few more definitions, you can click here.
Doesn’t this sound like inbound marketing? If you subscribe to inbound marketing, you have a specific set of fundamental beliefs, like “people don’t want to be interrupted” and “focus your precious marketing dollars on people who are already looking for the solutions you provide.”
Here are more ways in which inbound marketing feels like a religion to me.
You Have To Believe
Religion is all about faith. You must choose to believe. Inbound is the same. My view of the world shows me that the way we market and sell our businesses is changing, and rapidly. The tools and techniques that worked last year don’t work this year. Marketing has never experienced the pace of change it sees today. Search, social, content, web and mobile are moving at a breakneck pace.
The response is not to ignore those changes, but to embrace them. Inbound allows you to take advantage of all these changes to drive leads for your business. You have to believe that buyer behavior has changed. You have to believe that cold calling is interrupting people and annoying them. You have to believe that people don’t read their mail or watch commercials anymore.
Then, you have to believe that inbound works.
To Truly Believe, You Have To See It In Action
To that point, it’s hard to believe if you’ve never seen it in action. If you’ve never been moved by a religious ceremony, seen a religious miracle or been comforted by a religious idea, it’s difficult to believe. I get it.
I’m sure there are many people who don’t believe in inbound because they don’t understand it or have never seen it work. But, if you’re like me and have seen it work time and time again, you’re a believer. I’ve seen it work for our agency. I’ve seen it work for clients. I’ve seen it work for software companies, professional services companies and manufacturing companies. Just because you’ve never seen it happen or don’t understand exactly how it works, that doesn’t make it any less important.
You Have To Practice It
People who actively practice their religion are typically more passionate about it than people who are casual observers. The same applies here. Once you get involved with inbound, see how it works and experience the results it delivers, you’re convinced.
You have to practice it correctly. There are a lot of people who talk about inbound but deliver something different. Content marketing, website optimization and social media marketing are not examples of inbound marketing. Inbound is a collection and application of all the marketing tactics available in today’s world. The essence of inbound is how you apply them.
Most People Have One Religion
Most of us have one religion that we’ve been brought up to feel connected to. Others have grown connected to a particular religion over time. Some people are willing to die for their religion. But, very few of us are involved in more than one set of beliefs.
Inbound aligns perfectly here, too. Personally, I find it very difficult to be passionate about inbound and still talk about the potential of print advertising. These two points are just too divergent for me to wrap my head around. You either think advertising is productive or you don’t.
If you think that advertising, cold calling and direct mail simply don’t deliver like they used to, you have to start looking for an alternative. It’s just as if you felt like your religion was no longer meeting your needs: You might start looking for another belief system that does.
And once you’d found one, you’d spend your time getting connected to it, learning it, practicing it and sharing it with others who feel like you once did. It’s hard to be Jewish and Catholic at the same time, just like it’s hard to be all in on inbound and still think cold calling is a good idea.
It Brings Comfort In A Confusing World
Marketing is confusing. Every business owner, CEO and VP of Marketing I’ve ever met has wanted to generate more leads. Yet, none of them seems to really know how to do it. Today, marketing is more confusing than ever. One way to make sense of it is by applying inbound thinking. Inbound marketing does present a structure, a process and a system for what can be confusing and overwhelming.
Once you get good at it, inbound is actually very comforting. If you know exactly what you have to do to get a certain amount of new visitors to your site and a particular number of leads, you can plan, budget and predict your revenue. This is something business people have been searching for since the beginning of time.
Please take this article in the spirit with which it was created. I’m not trying to disparage any religion, nor am I trying to really compare inbound marketing to any of the world’s valuable belief systems. I am simply trying to shine a light on what makes inbound marketing special and show that when you believe in it, you can achieve remarkable results for your business.
My hope is that business leaders realize this isn’t just another idea to try, but rather an ideal that is long overdue. This isn’t something that you start and then stop after three months. This isn’t something to which you say, “Nothing else is working, so let’s try it.” Inbound is something you have to believe in, deep down inside. Let us help you believe like we do.
Start Today Tip – If you’re not all in on inbound yet, consider this a wake-up call. The world is moving to inbound. When your kids learn about marketing in college, they’re going to be taught inbound. When you look at the way we consume information, it’s not EVER going to revert to advertising. It’s only going to continue progressing toward self-service, small bytes and individual device delivery. This means that all those old-school tactics are going to decline in effectiveness. Today is your chance to start using the new tactics and start seeing real results.
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