In 2007, virtually no one knew or was familiar with the phrase “inbound marketing.” In the wake of INBOUND12, the conference for the inbound marketing industry, it’s become a buzzword. My guess is that usage of the term is going to skyrocket over the next 2-3 years.
A quick look at Google Trends confirms that it’s already happening:
In the coming months, blog post after blog post will be written about how you can use inbound marketing to generate more website traffic, leads, and sales for your business. However, the adoption of inbound marketing strategies is still relatively low. My guess is that the percentage of companies that are fully utilizing inbound strategies such as PPC, SEO, and social media is in the single-digit range. As a result, it’s not very difficult to generate an excellent return with even the most basic inbound marketing strategy.
Look at these stats:
Inbound marketing strategies have a much lower cost per lead than traditional (aka. outbound) marketing channels; however, this is going to change as more people go “all in” with inbound.
My prediction is that, in the very near future, to get an acceptable return from inbound marketing is going to require something more than the typical content I read today. In a proverbial sea of content, businesses are going to have to make themselves remarkable—something that’s easy to say, but far more difficult to do. At the 2011 Inc. 500 conference, Gary Vaynerchuk talked about how the entire body of content created from the time we were fighting the dinosaurs to 2003 is being replicated every 48 hours. He goes on to ask, “How is your content going to break through when there’s so much of it?”
In the future, it won’t be enough to set up a PPC campaign pointing to a generic landing page with a generic offer. Ranking well organically for a high-traffic, conversion-producing keyword phrase is going to require more than a few generic, regurgitated blog posts. It’s a bit ironic that HubSpot, arguably the originators of the term “inbound marketing,” encourage their VARs (value-added resellers) to re-brand and pump out variations of HubSpot’s white papers and case studies—flooding the web with (what will soon become) generic content. HubSpot’s software also makes it easy to create cookie-cutter CTAs (calls to action). Rebranding and distributing white papers and stock CTAs are acceptable right now, because so few businesses have their own case studies, white papers or CTAs.
Again, in the very near future, these regurgitated white papers and cookie-cutter CTAs are going to be much less valuable. Why? They’ll be perceived as noise. Inbound marketing is, in part, about being remarkable. Given how hard it is to actually be remarkable, I think you should start practicing it right now!
Here are a couple thoughts, inspired by Seth Godin (aka The King of Remarkable), on being remarkable and how to make your content and business remarkable:
“Remarkable doesn’t mean remarkable to you. It means remarkable to me.”
What you (the business owner) think doesn’t matter much; it’s what I (the customer) think that’s important. Is what you’re doing going to cause your prospects to react and remark? Is it going to break through the noise in a media market that becomes more and more fragmented with each passing day? The fact that something is special to you or a big deal to you means exactly squat (although being insanely passionate helps)! Personally, I’ve found that something has to be utterly ridiculous to my employees and horrifying to my business partner to be even close to remarkable for our prospects (the one-day website challenge” comes to mind).
When doing anything, ask yourself, “Are my prospects going to remark about it?” If they aren’t, it’s an average idea and average ideas are the death of many businesses.
Being remarkable means being extreme—living on the edge (or beyond it)
If you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re boring … you’re average … you’re a loser. It’s easier to find remarkable at the extreme. If your competitors offer “same-day service” and you offer “same-hour service”—that’s remarkable. Now, you might argue that it would be impossible to pull it off (or to pull it off profitably). The more difficult it is to fathom, the more likely it probably is to be seen as remarkable. You need to focus on being “THE”—get out of the middle and get to one of the edges (biggest, fastest, easiest, most difficult, etc.)—better still, jump OVER the edge!
It’s like Seth says, “Rock stars have groupies because they’re stars, not because they’re good-looking.”
Being remarkable isn’t a panacea.
Most people are lemmings. They’ll continue to do what everyone else is doing—failing to care or realize that you’re doing anything remarkable. That’s ok. We’re not after the attention of everyone. What we want is to DELIGHT a few and get them to spread the word and start the movement.
Being remarkable isn’t as risky as it seems.
What’s the worst that can happen if you try something extreme and fail? In most cases, the worst thing really isn’t so bad. This is an important concept to get comfortable with because being remarkable isn’t a “one and done” thing. It’s an ongoing process. Being part of the status quo is FAR more risky than chasing remarkable.
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
If you’re not “all in” with inbound marketing, you’re missing out. If you’re already investing in inbound marketing, and generating a good return from it, you’re going to have to raise your game in the future. You’re going to have to be remarkable—something that is easier said than done.