Inbound marketing is all the rage these days, but there's also a lot of misinformation about what it is, how it works, and how it builds your client base. That's why, before you get started, it's important to realize that inbound marketing is not a quick way to boost your sales figures--it's a long-term investment that helps you develop a relationship with your clients.
What is inbound marketing?
There are two types of marketing: outbound and inbound. Outbound marketing is what you typically think of when you think of advertising--such as coupons in the mail that offer you a discount if you buy now, commercials pushing how great a product is, or flyers that let you know a new store just opened in town. Outbound marketing is essentially just trying to buy a customer's attention.
Inbound marketing is different. Inbound marketing attempts to earn clients' trust, and to offer them value without any pressure or strings attached. It's all about building a relationship with your customers, and helping find a way to give them what they need so that they want to help support you.
The blogging example
Say your company sells gardening equipment. On your website, you run a blog that provides gardening tips. As long as your blog gives your readers value, they're going to keep coming back to see what new information you have for them. Readers will come to trust you and see you as an expert.
Because they know you, and they have a relationship with you, your readers are more likely to buy their supplies from you. Why? Because you're not just another store; you're their favorite, go-to place for tips and information. You're special, and you've earned their loyalty.
This isn't going to happen overnight. A business will need to create months' or years' worth of blog posts, social media updates, videos, and other types of valuable content in order to build this kind of relationship with viewers. It takes a lot of work, and no small amount of creativity. However, given that people have learned to tune out outbound advertising, inbound marketing is the best way to grow your business over the coming years.