Why I love inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is kind of the opposite of Mad Men advertising

We were the Mad Men of the 80s and 90s. Kind of.

At a large ad agency where I worked in the early 90s, many of the copywriters and art directors would show up late each day. Then they’d spend an hour or so visiting, as if they hadn’t seen each other in months. Then they’d attend a “meeting” – to view directors’ reels with a production company sales rep bearing free pastries. Most attendees weren’t even working on TV projects.

After an hour of this vital work, many would go out for a Jamba Juice.

Then, after a few minutes of reviewing memos, frantic planning for lunch began. No one watched the clock during lunch.

Afterwards, the real work began. In account meetings, ideas were kicked around. Managers would direct non-managers to flesh out some of these ideas. You really wanted to make sure you were out the door by 5:00, so as not to make the rest of the team look bad. And for happy hour.

To be fair, the best agencies were never that bad.

A few great agencies always worked hard and effectively for their clients. Today some still make engaging, effective advertising. I know some of these people; I’m proud of them and the work they do.

But the power of advertising has diminished. For more and more companies, advertising just isn’t that big of a deal.

A new organizing principle: Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing involves making your brand extremely visible on the web so that the right customers find you (the “inbound” part) through search or social, in contrast traditional “outbound” marketing ­– commercials, junk mail and cold calls.

I love the logic, organization and through the extensive use of analytics, accountability. 

Inbound marketing is easy to understand. But it isn’t easy.

You have to self-publish quality content – lots of it – of all types. Put it online and optimize it for Google. Promote it. 

The content generates leads. You nurture your leads, then convert them to sales. Then analyze the whole system, leverage what works, and abandon what doesn’t.

You can use countless tactics, which may even include ads. But generally, advertising is just a slice of the pie, not the pie itself. And it’s integrated into your inbound program.

No doubt, you’ll still need professional help from time to time.

When it comes to writing, design, programming, PR, strategy, analytics, social marketing and other specialized tasks, you may not have the right talent in-house, for your particular needs.

But by and large – inbound marketing gives you the power to do what needs to be done, if you’re willing to do the hard work. It’s hard, but it holds together. 

I’m glad new types of marketing have displaced the Mad Men days. What about you? 

The idea for this post comes from a comment I left on Bill Dorman’s blog. Bill writes about business and marketing. He’s thought provoking and entertaining. I highly recommend a visit to his site.

5 thoughts on “Why I love inbound marketing

  1. I didn’t wash my hands; that ok?

    I would say after the bottom fell out of the economy in ’08 a lot of things have changed. From my view, many are leaner and meaner and working as hard as ever.

    If you are trying to do it the way ‘we have always done it,’ you might get left behind.
    Bill Dorman recently posted..Your butt smells like fingers

    • Yes, but things were changing well before that.

      I worked at an iconic ad agency in ’92. The owner, a legend in the ad world, decided to take a very small beer brand, and blow nearly its entire budget on a Super Bowl commercial. He sold the client the idea. Now, we didn’t have a Super Bowl-worthy concept in the can – he just thought that was the way to go. One TV spot for your entire annual budget. Predictably, the agency made a lot of money and the spot tanked. Even a dumb young copywriter like me could see that the client would be better served by a different approach, albeit one that would require more effort in lieu of more dollars. My boss, however, was a TV guy, so every problem needed a TV solution.

      Or as they say, to a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Even in ’92, things weren’t like they were just a few years earlier.

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