There are a few things that have led me to believe that inbound marketing is basically the coolest thing to hit the advertising world since the printing revolution of the late 1400’s.
#1: The Annoyance Factor has been Eliminated
The first of these is my complete disdain of traditional marketing methods. I feel quite young to have grown such a cynical attitude towards the advertising world. I have become tragically callused to the very thing that drew me to graphic design in the first place. When I first encountered marketing from an artistic standpoint, I was intrigued by the idea that an image – a form of art – could influence a person’s decision. I became obsessed with this revelation, believing that this form of manipulation somehow equated itself to power. After being consciously and continuously exposed to the ways of traditional marketing for years, however, it began to bore and annoy me. How many times will I have to see a slightly plastic looking woman sporting falsies to be enticed into buying a particular brand of mascara? How many times will I have to endure a 30 second ad depicting a stereotyped housewife flinging fresh looking towels around before I can watch my damn funny cat compilations in peace?
#2: Free, Educational Content
The second reason lies in my love for libraries, and other free wonders. I don’t mean free like the stuff you get when you are forced to go to expos. I mean the type of free that promotes learning and intellect, and a general sense of community camaraderie. Libraries are an excellent example of this type of free. I have been an avid library lover since I turned six. Having the ability to obtain any book I ever wanted was like having a secret superpower. Being truly unlimited in that way sets one’s imagination abound. An even better example would be the Little Free Library system. This system is comprised of hundreds of small boxes placed around the United States and beyond, where books can be received and given. This system invites all people to share their wealth of knowledge by sharing books.
The Good Free Stuff
So what do these two things have in common? Why did it take one thing that I hate and one thing that I love to lead me to a conclusion about inbound marketing? Well, inbound marketing is both of these things, but not in the way you would expect. Inbound marketing is a marketing method that is supported by free stuff. And by free stuff, I mean the good kind of free stuff: valuable content in the form of blog posts, articles, videos, whitepapers and more. This kind of free promotes the spread of knowledge and growth. Perhaps it is my Minnesotan upbringing that drives me to want to help people, or perhaps I am just sick of ads that try to force your hand.
When I first learned of inbound marketing tactics, I’ll admit I was taken aback. All of these years, I was willingly submitting to a form of marketing through the free articles and blog posts I’d been reading. You would think that it would have made me angry and embarrassed. Instead, I am quite happy with the turn of events. I tip my hat to inbound marketing, and all those who contribute to its existence.
I believe that inbound marketing is amazing because it promotes the people (users), not the products – this is also what contributes to its significant effectiveness. There will always be businesses and clients, products and buyers, nothing will change that. But let me ask you this, would you rather look at a model with false eyelashes or read articles about pros and cons of certain brands and watch videos on how to apply them properly? People want to learn, and people want to grow – and they want to do it on their own schedule. It is simply part of the human experience to have this innate desire for power, and knowledge equates power. Having the artillery of knowledge to make conscious decisions about what we are buying is not only a gift, but also a right.
The Future of Traditional Marketing & Advertising
This doesn’t mean there isn’t a time and place for clean-towel-flinging women and other traditional ads; traditional marketing and advertising will not disappear. Instead, it will transform as it integrates many of the theories and tactics of inbound marketing – or it will need to if it wants to remain relevant and earn the attention of its audience. The next time you see the housewife waving her clean towels she may invite you to visit her Pinterest page to see all of the ways she has dirtied her towels – and then how she got them clean again so she could look good while dancing across your TV or computer screen.
Give a little. Get a lot.
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