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Inbound marketing works BECAUSE it’s boring!

November 24, 2015

By Tom Radford, Director of Innovation

Boring means Buying! 

People don’t buy what you tell them to buy; they only buy what they want to. Telling them how great you and your products are is fun, but finding out what they actually want…well that’s just hard graft! It’s boring, and so is a lot of the content used to make it work.

Did you read that right? Yes indeed folks, inbound marketing content is often rather pedestrian. I mean, when you compare it to one of Don Draper’s tear-jerking pitches, or a little Vorsprung Durch Technik from our friends at Audi, inbound starts to look a little like a soggy firework.

The problem is that when you run a company or develop a product, you’re full of passion about it. You want to shout about it. You’re so convinced it’s the next big thing you want to tell the whole world in a big loud voice and a sharp suit (well, sometimes you do).  But your voice isn’t always what they want to hear, often it’s their voice.

Your customer isn’t a salesman or a rock star, they’re just everyday folks and their buying decisions often come down to mundane concerns. Your content must address each and every one of those concerns, down to the type of grey paint you want in your living room or the rubber stoppers on your sofa, or anything your wife thinks is important.

SEO, Blogging and Customer Analysis is hard work!

To find their voice, and their wants you’d better roll up your sleeves and get your head down because you’ve got to work hard.

The road ahead is littered with hazards that will render your strategy ineffectual if you’re not careful. Here’s a few things you need to be careful of;

  • Too much personal insight in your customer research and not enough genuine research
  • Blogging with too much opinion not enough strategy and SEO
  • Speaking your language, not that of your customer
  • Disrupting your customer’s day instead of guiding it
  • Thinking about your needs and not the wants and desires of your customer
  • Trying to be an authority instead of a guide

The first law of Inbound Marketing: Research, Research, Research!

Essentially the foundation of inbound marketing is research.

You think you know your customer but do you really? Have you spoken to them? Do you really understand their journey from interest to purchase and even re-purchase?

Your product or service costs money, and people don’t part with money unless they’ve got some itch they need to scratch. That itch is what you’re trying to discover. To get to it you’ve got to know what to ask, and who to trust.

Try to imagine that you’ve got absolutely no idea who your customer is and start with a blank canvas.

For example: why does someone buy a new TV? Well, perhaps their other TV is broken. Perhaps they want new features or a better picture, or perhaps it’s peer pressure. Perhaps your buyer is a nerd who insists on having the latest gadgets, or maybe they’ve moved to a new house with more space. Lots of reasons here, and lots of motivations and these are just a few ideas.

Traditionally you’d see an advert showing a glossy TV with people watching it and some spiel about the crystal clear HD display or whatever. Ask yourself, how many of the drivers and motivations listed above are satisfied by that commercial? Maybe half? Maybe less?

The voice of the people

You’ve got to get into their e-garden, their internet back yard. What sites, what social, what pages, what IM are they using? What formats to they prefer? What words do they type into Google during the bitter watches of the night when they just can’t sleep.

I’m telling you folks, you really have to ape their lives, you’ve got to see it through their eyes. So when they read your copy, your blogs and social messages, it’s not coming from the ad man, it’s coming from someone they’d like to go for a coffee with. Someone they trust who understands them. Sorry, but this is essential, more hard graft I’m afraid! Boring, bored, boredom…where’s the glamour?

Enough theory, where’s the fun bit?

Okay, so that’s the theory but once you’ve got through the pain barrier the fun can begin. Let’s assume that your hard work has paid off and you now know;

  • What the people want,
  • Where they are online
  • What kind of content format they want to see
  • What their pain points are
  • What it’s like to be their peer

You can start telling stories about your brand. Stories aligned with customer desire. Now you’re seeing your offering through the eyes of the customer your brand narrative will be more effective. And then the creativity kicks in and that’s where the fun happens.

It’s not all boring, least of all when the sales start rolling in.