Inbound Marketing is Like a Box of Chocolates…

… instead of reaching out to customers and interrupting their lives, inbound marketing pulls them in with content they are interested in (or, you know, with the best chocolatey treats that they’re interested in). I like the way HubSpot has explained this on their corporate blog: “Do you really think your are important or interesting enough for them to want to talk to you instead of doing whatever they were doing when you interrupted them? They have not invited you into their home, and they certainly do not happen to enjoy being interrupted.” Think about it. How many times do you get bombarded by unwanted telemarketers? I know I get them enough that I have to block phone numbers…it’s incredibly intrusive, not to mention so annoying that I make sure I NEVER give my business to companies that do that. What HubSpot does is create content that makes people want to come to them because they are interested in what HubSpot actually has to say. By creating interesting content targeting distinct groups, distributing it effectively and by measuring consumer interaction HubSpot has created the ultimate inbound marketing model that better allows companies to efficiently generate qualified leads and turn them into sales.

HubSpot was attracting many unique customers, with those operating small businesses as well as those working as marketing professionals at large firms, with customers also involved in B2B AND B2C selling. At first, HubSpot made programs to cater to each type of consumer. However, to achieve faster growth, they had to decide who would be the most effective market for them to focus their inbound marketing on. “Owner Ollies” were the small business operators, who made of 73% of their customer profile, while Marketer Mary’s were marketing professionals working at large firms who made up 27% of HubSpot’s customer profile. They were also running into the problem of not having a mix of inbound AND outbound marketing techniques. Because they preached the effectiveness of inbound marketing, it would go against their brand to cold-call select people about HubSpot when they’re making videos saying that that’s for losers…

HubSpot has built their brand around the idea that outbound marketing is dated. While they may not experience as much immediate growth by completely cutting outbound marketing out of their marketing plan, that may be better than hurting their credibility by going against what they sell. That would be like me telling someone in order to be healthy like me they would have to exercise AND eat right, and then going home and stuffing my face full of shit food; it’s hypocritical. However, in the Amplify Your Impact: How to Multiply the Effects of Your Inbound Marketing Program ebook, it is strongly suggested that the only way to see bottom-line results is to have a mixture of inbound and outbound marketing techniques, with perhaps extra focus on inbound methods. Here is a great comparison of marketing in the 1980’s to marketing in 2012; there are more than 3 times are many marketing channels now as there used to be!

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It seems to me that HubSpot is in a pickle. By ruling out outbound marketing techniques, they are missing out on people who don’t know they exist or don’t understand what they do as well as possibly making them experience a diminishing return (meaning that HubSpot increasing its content output doesn’t necessarily generate more leads). Ideally, they would be able to incorporate online campaigns as well as offline campaigns and field campaigns for their outgoing marketing, as well as incorporating corporate marketing strategies, marketing automation and metrics reports. But in this case, they’ve publicly declared ware against outbound marketing techniques and because of this I don’t personally think that they would benefit from incorporating these. Perhaps if they had been more careful of this from the start, they would be able to have a better marketing mix without sacrificing their company philosophy.

I also think that if they’re going to focus on one specific target market for their inbound marketing techniques, they should focus on Marketing Mary’s. While there are clearly more Owner Ollies in their customer profile, they can get more money out of Mary’s because of their big firm budgets. I also think they should require customers to be in their program for a longer period of time. Because their records indicate that they tend to lose customers after the first few months of their initial engagement boost, perhaps requiring Marketing Mary’s to be locked in for a longer time period would deter early cancellations, as well as increase the time HubSpot has to prove that the continued use of inbound marketing is invaluable and that by continuing to work with them you will continue to grow your business.

I’ll probably end up using fashion examples in a lot of the articles I write on this blog, as it’s something I’m obsessively passionate about (which is not so great for my meager college student budget, but I digress) and because it’s an industry where I see a lot of creative advertising done, especially in consumer engagement. For example, Free People is a clothing line that is considered to be on the higher end of fashion brands and is especially popular with bohemian/hippie women. But something I’ve noticed they do extremely well is their inbound marketing. Rarely do I see an advertisement for them on any kind of traditional media channel (TV, radio, newspaper, etc.) nor do I see many advertising banners on the internet. However, they have one of the most active fashion communities in terms of customer engagement. They have programs that encourage product reviews by profiling certain “regular girls” in pictures wearing the merchandise on their website, as well as encourage constant communication between their customers and their social media channels. By having other services besides product purchases (a lifestyle blog, a monthly trend catalog, many daily pictures of products and lifestyle items that have been branded and styled to perfection, and more) they have created a Free People community where many people go to learn about fashion and to be inspired by a free spirited lifestyle. They also have the most amazing videos they create to “tell a story” of their next collection, usually released about every month. I’m constantly amazed by the sheer volume of information and creative styling that they employ to revolve around the products they sell, just to keep bringing in people who relate to what they’re brand is all about. Here is an example of a video they released for one of their collections:

Until next time!

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