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March 28, 2016 Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Social Media

Inbound Marketing is Like Fly-Fishing

What’s the difference between traditional and inbound marketing? Traditional marketing is like trawling – you know, fishing by trailing a net through the water. When you trawl, you get fish, but you get a lot of other things too. Say you’re trawling for a particular fish; you throw out your net, drag it behind your boat and later haul up the net.

So, you cast a wide net and you managed to snag a few of the fish you were looking for, but you snagged a bunch of other stuff too. Turtles, perhaps. Dolphins, maybe. Trash, probably. That’s traditional (outbound) marketing: Cast a wide net and hope you get the right customer buried among the wrong customers. By wrong, I mean the ones who aren’t interested in what you have to offer.

Consider this:

  • Some 44% of direct mail is never opened (HubSpot).
  • 86% of people skip TV ads (HubSpot).
  • More than 221 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on the FTC do not call list (Federal Trade Commission).

Enter inbound marketing. If traditional marketing is trawling, inbound marketing is fly fishing. In fly fishing, you pick the right fly for the right location and the right fish. Fly fishing is deliberate and targeted. You’re not dropping a net on the fish and trapping them haphazardly; you’re setting up a situation in which they come to you. When you trawl, the fish see the net coming and yell, “Run! Run!” When you’ve tied on the right fly and cast it perfectly, the fish say “Oooo. A Woolly Bugger! Yummy. Nom nom.” The fish come to you. They bite. You reel ‘em in. And keep them (marketing is not catch-and-release).

So you pick your fish, you create something they want and you put it out there. In other words, you attract leads and customers with inbound marketing. Customers find you online with inbound marketing. Instead of shouting, you’re studying, you’re listening and you’re targeting; you’re getting the fish you want. And by fish, I mean customers. You’re getting the customers that want to buy your product.

Now consider this:

  • Inbound marketing costs 61% less per lead than traditional, outbound marketing (HubSpot).
  • 54% more leads are generated by inbound tactics than traditional paid marketing (HubSpot)

Here’s what marketer Guy Kawasaki has to say about inbound marketing:

If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.

So what is inbound marketing?

A common definition of inbound marketing is “publishing the right content in the right place at the right time;” the content is relevant to your audience. You know your audience because you’ve created buyer personas; and you know the right time because you’ve done A/B testing and work at nurturing leads.

Further, Social Media Today explains:

Drawing customers into a business with helpful, entertaining, educational and – above all – high quality content that appears on the business website...”

When you tie flies, you take your fur, feathers, thread and hook to create something compelling that Fly-fishing flieswill bring the fish to you. With inbound marketing you’re doing the same thing – except your marketing fly-tying materials are blogs, SEO, web pages and social media sprinkled with calls to action, email and landing pages. You’re casting, attracting, hooking and landing – and possibly sautéing in a little butter with a nice Chardonnay on the side.

That last piece is important: What happens after you’ve got a customer. Inbound is primarily about getting found online; you also need to be doing content marketing so that once you’re found, people have a reason to keep coming back, online or offline. Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute explains it like this:

What if you want to upsell or cross sell to the customer? Well, that’s a whole set of different content. What if your goal is customer retention and loyalty? Well, that’s another content strategy as well.

Now, I don’t want to split hairs: IMHO, content marketing is part of inbound marketing rather than separate. It depends how you look at it. But it’s important to realize that offline content is not dead and traditional marketing should not be thrown out the window. They can work successfully alongside inbound: You might have to reallocate some budget until you find the right mix for your company or product. It all depends what you’re trying to accomplish and/or what you’re trying to sell – and to whom. There’s no one-size-fits-all because everyone is different. After all, you wouldn’t use a Kinky Muddler to catch a salmon, right?