You don’t have to spend hours each day reading emails and blogs in order to have heard the dialog about whether or not email is dead. People on both sides of the debate are passionate over that—and whether or not RSS will rule the world anytime soon, or whether social networks really are the future’s communication and marketing pot of gold.
I recently read Gary Vaynerchuck’s new book Hustle! It’s an interesting read. Reading it caused me to think of a company called HubSpot. In addition to releasing their own book entitled Inbound Marketing, HubSpot has recently received $16 million of funding. The firm is obviously doing something well. As Gary V. would say, they’re really crushing it.
“So,” I asked myself, “what is Inbound Marketing and why is it working so well for HubSpot?” Here’s what I have decided. HubSpot has identified existing marketing tools, combined and repackaged them, and then offered them to a marketplace that is eager to have what they are offering. Analytics—like Google—have been combined with blog tools—like Typepad, Blogger and WordPress—and wrapped up via the use of content management tools that are already available. The result is that the firm now has a great product AND one of the latest buzzwords in marketing–Inbound Marketing.
The idea the drives inbound marketing is that today’s technology makes “shopping” so simple, and today’s consumers are so savvy, that consumers will look for you if they want the product or service you are providing. You don’t need to spend time and money with sales calls and traditional media sources designed to lure buyers in. While that scenario may be partly true, there are certainly lots of small firms that simply don’t have the manpower or the knowledge to set up an attractive, effective website and a blog, much less the savvy to tackle to mine field of tracking hits, measuring search results and optimizing leads. The gist of Inbound Marketing is that a firm attracts customers through content. If you can create content that is riveting as well as relevant, you’ll find that the search engines will find you!! I think the guys at HubSpot are right. Once the search engines find you and index you, you’re on your way.
Is that the whole story?
No! When I talked with the folks at HubSpot, I learned that they use “outbound” marketing tactics frequently. These would include things like email marketing, social media and phone calls. For their company, email marketing is their best outbound marketing tool. For yours, some other tactic may be best. The point is that it’s wise to combine both inbound and outbound marketing methods. If you want to see great marketers in action, I suggest that you follow their Twitter feed. I think you’ll learn something.
So, let’s get back to Gary V. and today’s marketing setting of creating and sharing great content so that interested customers will pay attention and then click our site and purchase our product. Is that all there is to it? In a word—NO. There are mobile phones everywhere with all sorts of applications that bring the Internet—and a whole world of products and services—right to a person’s fingertips. One trick is to know how to integrate this technology and its text messaging mania with email marketing software and other electronic tools.
Another tricky, but critical, step is to get your message where people will see it. I don’t mean that they’ll simply run their eyeballs over it, but that they will really see and respond to it. Statistics say that increasing numbers of consumers of all ages have blogs and mobile phones as well as followers and friends on twitter (we love to tweet) and facebook.
So here are my two decisions based on what I’ve seen and read:
- Concentrate on being where the eyeballs routinely are. This will require you to be able to adjust your focus and your marketing mix as the media of choice evolves.
- Combine inbound marketing and outbound marketing. You have customers with savvy. They’re blogging, emailing, talking and texting. Some of them appear to be able to do two or three of those things at once. Follow the customers’ lead—combine your efforts to reach them, and you may find that success will come find you.