7 Things You Didn’t Know You Knew About Inbound Marketing (And If You Didn’t, You Will Now)

May 2017

Inbound Marketing What You Didn't Know You Knew

It’s always a treat hearing from my friends at IABC Houston, and when they need a speaker for an upcoming luncheon, I’m always happy to step up. Two reasons:

  • I get to spend an hour discussing what I love with a group of fun, savvy marcom professionals
  • Free lunch at the fabulous La Griglia (score!)

So when they asked me to present on inbound marketing at their most recent luncheon, I was delighted … but flummoxed.

“Here’s the thing,” I told the organizer, “There are entire week-long conferences about inbound marketing that don’t even scratch the surface. How am I supposed to cover it in 45 minutes?”

“Well,” he responded, “I’ll tell you about the first time I attended a webinar on inbound marketing. I went into it ready to learn something new, then I slowly began to realize I know more about it than I thought I did.

Light bulb.

Thus was born the presentation “7 Things You Didn’t Know You Knew About Inbound Marketing (And If You Didn’t, You Will Now).” The IABC crowd seemed to get a lot out of it, so today I’m sharing it with you.

7 Things You Didn’t Know You Knew About Inbound Marketing (And If You Didn’t, You Will Now) from Resonance Content Marketing

1. What Inbound Marketing Is … and Is Not

Do a search for “what is inbound marketing,” and you’ll find about as many different definitions as you’ll find “gurus” claiming to be experts on it (in other words, a lot).

My favorite definition of inbound marketing comes from HubSpot:

“Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive.”

Yes, it’s a bit of a mouthful, but it encompasses all the critical elements of a successful inbound marketing strategy:

  • Attracting: The days of pushing product 24/7 are over. We need to attract people to our brands with quality content and keep them wanting to come back.
  • Content and interactions: Not advertisements, either blatant or thinly veiled as blog posts. Get it?
  • Relevant: Inbound marketing meets the audience where they are: in their wants, their needs, their frustrations, their hopes and dreams for the future.
  • Helpful: The next time you’re ready to click “publish,” ask yourself, “How is this making life better for the people in my audience?” If you can’t come up with an honest answer, you’ve got more work to do.

Now let’s take a moment to look at what inbound marketing is not:

  • It’s not a series of copied-and-pasted press releases masquerading as a “blog.”
  • It’s not “news about our company.” Nobody cares. Deal with it.
  • It’s not a series of writings that begin with discussion of a problem and end with the solution “so that’s why you need to buy our product.” We have another word for that: a brochure.

2. How Inbound Differs from Outbound Marketing

First let’s take a look at outbound marketing. When advertising first became a popular practice in the early 20th century, brands made a horrifying discovery: people would not seek out their ads.

They realized that if anyone was going to see and hear their messages, they had to be sneaky. How? By interrupting people while they’re doing the things they do every day. Driving to work? Boom, there’s a billboard. Reading a favorite magazine? Boom, there’s a print ad. Working at your office? Boom, some vendor you never heard of hits you with a cold call.

That’s how interruption became the hallmark of outbound marketing.

But then a problem came up. Actually, several problems came up: DVRs that skip commercials. Satellite radio. Caller ID. Spam filters. Popup blockers. Slowly but surely, consumers began taking control of the conversation. And when marketers turned on the pressure, all John Q. Consumer had to do was turn off the lines of communication.

So marketers had to hit the drawing board and come up with a better way, and that better way is inbound marketing. Instead of hitting people over the head with varying iterations of the “buy my stuff” message, what if we offered something they actually needed — and wanted — to attract them to our brand?

That, folks, is what inbound marketing is all about.

To sum up: Outbound marketing is interruption-based, involving tactics like advertising, direct mail, and cold calling. Inbound marketing is attraction-based, involving tactics like SEO, blogging, and lead generation.

3. Why Inbound Marketing Is Important

Aside from the failure of outbound marketing as the sole foundation of a marketing strategy, there are three reasons why inbound marketing is here to stay:

The Noise Factor

Did you know that the average American is subjected to between 3,000 and 20,000 marketing messages every day? People have been marketed to every way under the sun, and they’re tired of it. They’re overwhelmed, they’re exhausted, they can smell a product pitch a mile away … and they can run like hell in the other direction.

But when you offer them something they need and want, something that intrigues them and engages them with no strings attached? Then they just might listen.

The Trust Factor

People are overwhelmed with choices. Where there were once two or three brands to choose from for a particular solution, now there are hundreds, if not thousands. And maybe half of those are worth the paper their business cards are printed on. How do people know whom to trust?

That’s the beauty of inbound marketing. It lets us build a foundation of trust, so that when we do come on with our marketing messages, people are much more likely to sit up and listen.

The “What’s in It for Me?” Factor

Thirty years ago, if your customers wanted something from you, they had to sign on the dotted line first.

Today the tables are turned. Consumers (both B2B and B2C) are in control. We have to give them something before we can expect them to listen to us.

4. Inbound Marketing Is Multifaceted

Our jobs as marketers just got a whole lot more complicated. Back when we were just advertisers, we had print, radio, TV, outdoor, trade shows/events, … and that was pretty much it.

Now that we’ve seen the light of inbound marketing, we’re faced with a tsunami of tactics, including but not limited to

blogging, e-books, social media, e-newsletters, live chats, thought leadership, community building, videos, podcast, webeinars

First of all, relax. You don’t have to do it all … at least not all the time. That being said, you do need to determine the right mix of tactics and the right timing, given the preferences and habits of your audience, the internal resources you have to work with, and the current face of your industry.

5. Inbound Marketing Does Not End with the Sale

Remember the old sales funnel diagram that started with awareness, led the prospective customer all the way to the closing and then … stopped?

What a waste. Once prospects become customers, they’ve only just begun to deliver returns on our investment. Are we creating success stories about them (with them as the hero, natch) that they’ll be excited to share? Are we inviting them to present at our webinars and other events? Are we asking them to help grow our communities by sharing our content with their peers? Are we inviting them to write guest posts for our blogs?

In other words, are we helping them evolve from customers into evangelists?

6. Not All Inbound Marketing Is Online

Yes, most of what we talk about when we’re talking inbound marketing has to do with blogging, email, podcasting, and other online stuff. But that doesn’t mean we can neglect the many offline opportunities for delivering engaging, relevant content.

For example, did you know that Airbnb recently partnered with Hearst Media to create a magazine — a print magazine? Believe it or not, print is enjoying a renaissance, even among technology-obsessed millennials.

Another venue to explore is live events. No, I’m not talking about webinars: I mean live, in person, on-site events like conferences, summits, and workshops — and not just the ones you host yourself. Did you know that every time one of your thought leaders presents at an industry conference, that’s inbound marketing? Think about it: They’re attaching your brand to useful, relevant content, so … yeah, it is.

7. Inbound Marketing Is Not (Necessarily) Linear

Did you know it takes between seven and 13 touchpoints before a consumer will even interact with your brand? Back in the day, that meant seven to 13 iterations of the message “buy my stuff.” But with inbound marketing, making those touchpoints is a much more pleasant task. Instead of bombarding people with ads, we can offer useful, engaging content that gives them what they want and need. The result? They might actually — heavens forfend — look forward to hearing from us.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, what makes inbound marketing special is that it accomplishes all three of the prerequisites for people doing business with us:

  • They have to know us. By publishing useful content consistently and frequently, people can get to know us as a trusted advisor who has the answers they need.
  • They have to like us. How hard is it to like someone who helps solve your problems without asking anything in return?
  • They have to trust us. Trust is one of the most precious commodities in the marketplace today. You can’t buy it. You can’t steal it. But you can build it, and one of the ways to do that is by offering the insightful, engaging, and maybe even entertaining gems that will keep them coming back.

And when a need for your products or services does arise, which brand will be foremost in their minds? Yours.

Content Marketing CoachFind out why Joe Pulizzi had this to say about The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and WIN!

“A simple yet effective guide to an approach that most businesses get flat out wrong. Do yourself and your business a favor and take a deep dive into this book. You won’t regret it.”


About the Author

Rachel Parker, Founder & CEO of Resonance Content Marketing

A self-described geek who can recite entire episodes of South Park by heart, Rachel Parker has had a passion for content ever since she was old enough to hold a crayon (purple, please).

As Founder and CEO of Resonance, Rachel helps businesses publish content that connects with their audience … and converts those followers into customers. She’s also the host of the Content Marketing Podcast and author of the book The Content Marketing Coach: Everything You Need to Get in the Game … and WIN!
content_marketing_50 BizSugar Featured Author on Business 2 Community

1 Comment

  1. IADMS says:

    Great post. True we can reach genuine audience through inbound marketing. Thanks for the amazing post and information.

Our Clients Are Saying

  • Event Sold Out Two Years In A Row!

    Rachel worked with me on creating a content marketing calendar and content for the Big Social Media Summit (Big SMS) three years in a row. She is very organized and knows just the right amount of posts on social, email newsletters and content to send.  Her content marketing efforts helping us sell out our event three years in a row!  I am expecting the same for October 2014.

    Rachel was hired to write content for our email newsletter and content for our social platforms. In addition, she had a budget to do advertising on social media. She participated in the event live and after the fact to assure buzz was created before, during and after the event. As a result, our event sold out.

    When I work with Rachel, I have total peace of mind.  I know that she is on target, on time, reliable and delivers over and above the results I expect.

    I trust Rachel totally with her ideas on strategy, marketing and the content used to not only promote our events, but also post on my behalf on social networks. I have been doing social media for 8 years, and I hire Resonance to post on some of my social sites as it saves me time, and keeps my social sites relevant and current. They always post great, engaging content that gets my social properties likes, comments and shares.


  • One of the best “vendor” relationships I’ve ever had.

    My company had little or no time to spend on social media. Our needs were to ensure a steady stream of posts across three platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) by harvesting and re-purposing content from our own site and news streams. So I contacted Rachel Parker of Resonance Content Marketing.

    The result was two-fold. Not only did our ranks of followers grew steadily, the steady drip, drip, drip of content helped us train our personnel and direct their own individual social media efforts.

    Rachel and her team are extremely organized and open to discussion and new ideas. They deliver a rapid response to new opportunities — and an overall feeling of being on the same team. One of the best “vendor” relationships I’ve ever had.

  • Increased our likes and interaction rates

    Working with Rachel was a delight. Not only does she communicate very well, but she provided valuable insight about our social media platforms and followers. We have much better engagement with our fans and followers, which increased our likes and interaction rates.


  • Produced ROI Result

    Form.io needed someone who could grasp the complexities of our product, capture the subtlety of our differentiating value propositions, and convey them in the right voice for an exacting customer audience…. Resonance delivered, by crafting a multi-faceted online content marketing strategy that drove traffic and conversion, producing the ROI result we were looking for….

  • Social Media Ranking Better Than Ever!

    We are so happy to have hired Resonance for our social media needs. We spend most of our time serving our clients and studying our field so we can provide the highest quality possible. We no longer worry about our social media, as we have total confidence in the wonderful work Rachel and her team have accomplished.

    Our social media is active, promoted, and is ranking better than ever! People often comment about what they see on our Facebook page. Resonance has added a creative, and artistic twist to our social media that is appealing and captivating to our audience. This has allowed me more time to work with my team and clients, so I can focus on service towards the people that help our business grow.

    I know there will be wonderful content on Facebook, and that Rachel will answer to posts, comments and questions as soon as a comment arrives. I am often impressed at how quickly she responds! Thank you Resonance! I highly endorse Resonance and encourage companies who need social media strategies to work with Resonance! You won’t regret it! 

  • Increased website traffic, New Lead Generation

    We were experiencing a lack of internal resources to consistently maintain the Ustream blog. So we turned to Resonance Content Marketing to write blog posts on current industry topics while maintaining a consistent tone with the brand. The result is increased website traffic, new lead generation from gated assets on blog, and better educated/qualified leads. And I now have more time to spend on marketing strategy with the confidence that the content we push out is extremely well written and engaging.

    Rachel is an amazing writer and has really managed to create engaging and relevant blog material on topics that aren’t always super interesting. On many occasions, she has been able to quickly turn around one-off requests and the results are always top-notch. She has also helped guide our content strategy based on her expertise in content marketing, which has been a huge asset to our team.

  • Professionalism and Sincere Desire to Help

    I just didn’t seem to be able to find the time or the right words to explain what I offer and how my company helps people accomplish their goals. Rachel was able to ask me some questions, do some research and capture my voice while writing my website copy exactly as I needed it to be written.  Now, the copy on my website is much more professional than what I would have created and having this task handled by Rachel and Resonance freed up my time to complete other tasks I am better suited to do.

    It was a joy to work with Rachel. Her professionalism and sincere desire to help was apparent from the first communication until the final delivery. I will definitely use Resonance again and highly recommend their services.

  • Added 5 figures to my business in less than 4 weeks

    Rachel took the overwhelm and stress out of writing content for my marketing campaign! When I approached Rachel, I was really concerned that I wouldn’t have the time to focus on writing copy for a lengthy marketing campaign that included sales pages, solo emails, newsletters and social media updates. Well, let’s just say I’m glad I hired Rachel because I couldn’t have done it without her support and expertise. I loved how she used my voice and words to craft content that helped me reach and attract my ideal client. As a result of working with Rachel, I added 5 figures to my business in less than 4 weeks, hundreds of new social media followers and exceeded my sales and list building goals! You know your marketing copy is working when you hear someone say, “I see you everywhere”. Thank you Rachel for helping me not only get seen by my ideal clients but get paid!

Free Tips
learn more...