WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING?
You can’t read too much about marketing these days without tripping on the common phrase Inbound Marketing.
It is an industry buzzword that serves to differentiate current, digitally-based marketing practices from traditional ones.
This means we are trying to attract interested people to us by creating and distributing content in the marketplace so that it is ready and waiting for our target audiences when they are ready, thus earning their attention, vs. Outbound Marketing, often called Interruption Marketing, that focuses more on interrupting people when they are focused on something else so that they pay attention to us when we are ready.
As you can gather, the former has a better chance of being accepted by our target audiences than the latter that is in their face at potentially the wrong time. Think of all the direct mail, TV and radio commercials, billboards, telemarketers, and salespeople knocking on your front door. How do you feel about all of that? Receptive? Disturbed? Irritated?
Wikipedia tells us that Inbound Marketing is:
“advertising a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, enewsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing. In contrast, buying attention, cold-calling, direct paper mail, radio, TV advertisements, sales flyers, spam, telemarketing and traditional advertising are considered ‘outbound marketing.’ Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content.”
Once again, this concept of earning the attention of our potential clients comes into play, vs. outbound marketing where, as Marketing Strategist David Meerman Scott says,
“they “buy, beg, or bug their way in.”
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT TO LAWYERS AND LAW FIRMS?
It is important to lawyers and law firms for the same reason it is to the rest of the world. You and I can only spend so many hours out there, talking to potential and current clients, media, referral sources, alumni and those we consider our target audiences, but we have to sleep sometime. On the other hand, with Inbound Marketing, the content we create and distribute is working for us 24 hours a day, and is there when our target audiences happen to need what we have to say.
WHICH IS BETTER: A LIVE ATTORNEY OR CONTENT MARKETING?
With inbound marketing, attorneys can spread enough of their thoughts, or content, in enough places so that it is available when their target audiences decide they are ready to buy, or are at least interested in looking around for their next service provider. They do their research online to learn what they need to know so they are better armed when they start interviewing candidates to serve them. How do they become informed? Well, by the content others have created and distributed for just that purpose.
FIGURE OUT WHO YOU ARE
To bring these leads to us (Inbound Marketing) via Content Marketing, we need to lay the groundwork. We can’t just start writing, recording and distributing content if it doesn’t serve any specific purpose, or if we haven’t thought about how it serves to support our clients’ needs. Well, we can, but as I’ve said about Random Acts of Marketing before…Random Acts of Kindness are lovely. Random Acts of Marketing…not so much.
Although this To-Do list isn’t exhaustive, it should give you an idea what steps you need to think about:
- You have to figure out what clients are looking for that matches what you have to offer.
- You have to then determine how you should describe what you have to offer in terms your clients understand.
- You then think about all the different ways you can create content that support what clients need and what you have.
- You then need to study where your prospects spend time so you can try to place your content in those places.
- You then need to create a plan that focuses on the constant, passionate delivery of timely content, or what I call RDTC, discussed here.
- You also need to begin to think of ways to bring them into your fold and on to your email list once they arrive at your site.
CREATE YOUR OWN PLAN, NOT SOMEONE ELSE’S
Why do we need to spend time focusing on the points in the last section? It’s wise business because some in the legal profession can be particularly worried about doing what their competitors are doing. I can understand the underlying intent here because who wants to be left behind when competitors are doing what appears to be successful, while we sit back and let them? On the other hand, we risk looking just like they do when we copy their practices.
As Tiffany Sauder, President of Indianapolis-based marketing agency Element 3, wrote in her article, Inbound Marketing Lessons For Business Growth, on Inside Indiana Business:
“[If you] are always trying things on for size because your competitors are doing it – that’s not appealing to be around. Nothing is more attractive than being who you are.”
HOW DO YOU CREATE A CONTENT MARKETING MACHINE?
How do you focus on the constant, passionate delivery of timely content? There are a few practices Tiffany and Element 3 suggest to help stay disciplined in your Content Marketing efforts:
- Give people a day(s) of the month they need to post.
- Have a central blog administrator that reviews every blog and optimizes it.
- Use an editorial calendar and write around a central theme each month.
- Recruit interested bloggers; don’t force it.
- Don’t forget about human interest blogs.
- Share the impact and results.
As you’ll hear me suggest often, we have to be realistic in our expectations of marketing tactics and efforts. It is important to remember that Inbound and Content Marketing are just the same as any other type of marketing.
Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Fits and starts won’t get you anywhere but tired and burned out, but the constant, passionate, relentless focus on the creation and distribution of good content will serve you much more effectively.
We’ve only scratched the surface of Inbound Marketing, but we can go into more detail when we talk the next time, okay?