Here’s a story that we’ve all lived through.
Last night, I was reading a news article posted on a respected, well-known news site. As the page finished loading, a shadow box appeared with a 20-second advertisement. I don’t remember what the ad was for, because I clicked off the tab until I had the option to close the ad just five seconds in. The commercial went ignored, and was shut down as soon as humanly possible.
In other words, I missed the message.
But they were not to be deterred; a moment later, a banner ad magically appeared in the middle of the text, and a video of a singing, dancing jar of spaghetti sauce played over the music I already had on. I had been swept back to 2001, when it was cool to autoplay music on your website. In frustration, I shut down the article entirely.
Frustrated and annoyed, I internally reaffirmed that I would never purchase the just-advertised pasta sauce as I closed the advertisement. I skimmed the rest of the article quickly, barely paying attention to the content because I was wary about more stealth ads, and closed the tab without exploring the rest of the featured articles.
This is why your advertisements don’t work.
Traditional advertising is all about getting in your face, employing a blitz method that doesn’t care who I am. Maybe I’m the sort of customer they want, and maybe not; it doesn’t matter as long as they capture my attention long enough to remind me to drink more Ovaltine. It’s interruptive, too, and doesn’t take into account that I am listening to my own music, and when my tabs start making noise unexpectedly I might be so put off that I close the page without even looking for the increasingly-small “X” in the corner.
It’s a relentlessly negative experience, and we’re so inundated with advertisements that they don’t make an impact anymore unless they happen to be very very clever.
But inbound marketing is about something different. We don’t stick ourselves in a prospect’s face; we bring them in when they’re interested in our services and receptive to our message.
Focusing on the sort of clients you want to do business with, inbound marketing’s laser-focus on prospects who already have an interest in your field works to pre-qualify leads before they even get to you. It’s long-lead marketing that creates a relationship between buyer and vendor by developing trust and respect through interesting and informative blogs and articles on subjects that are customized to the people who already want to buy what you have to sell.
Inbound marketing drives traffic to your website and gets your business higher search rankings because you’re providing original, useful information about the things consumers are actually searching for online It also lets customers build momentum for you; people who trust a company are more likely to return and recommend that company to their friends and family, through word of mouth and sharing on social media. It motivates consumers to do the advertising for you, and messaging that comes from a friend with nothing to gain is much stronger than advertising coming from the business itself.
In short, inbound marketing works because it allows consumers to seek you out as you become relevant to their life. That makes them feel like they aren’t being advertised to. In a world where everyone wants your money, someone offering something of value without asking for something up front is a breath of fresh air. They become more receptive to your message because you’ve already shown them that you’re not out to “get their money;” instead, you’re here to help solve their problem.
And that’s the point. Nobody’s going to hire a business that can’t help them. So help them early – and you stand a better chance of getting their patronage down the line.