Inbound as a Philosophy and as a Marketing System

By Scott Anderson Miller

What — exactly — is inbound marketing? Inbound marketing is a holistic, fully integrated approach to building your business via the Internet, based on the law of attraction — the belief that like attracts like. Inbound marketing is also both a business philosophy and a business practice.

Inbound as a philosophy

Philosophically, the term “inbound” goes beyond the marketing function, though the scope of this book is limited to marketing strategy and initiatives. Inbound as a business philosophy, and specifically as a marketing philosophy, refers to a complex customer-centric business model.

In particular, inbound marketing is a paradigm shift from the belief and practice of interruptive “push” marketing methods to a philosophy of attractive “pull” marketing. Inbound marketing isn’t solely about great creative campaigns, beautiful graphic design, or logos. Although these things may represent characteristics of inbound marketing, a truly attractive inbound marketing campaign dives deeper than sleek advertising whose main intention is to seek attention.

Does your organization believe in the inbound philosophy? Here are some traits of the inbound methodology:

  • Your company innovates based on satisfying unfulfilled consumer needs.

  • Your customer relationship extends beyond the transactional.

  • Your company connects with customers at multiple levels at multiple points in time.

  • Your focus is beyond making the first sale, extending to creating a customer for life.

  • You encourage customer interaction, listen to feedback, and respond accordingly.

The inbound philosophy thrives upon mutual trust, meaningful relationships, and two-way communication. Inbound marketing creates shared connections between consumer and company based on mutually beneficial connective points. The most successful companies create value beyond the product or service they’re selling to enhance a consumer’s lifestyle. Brands like Starbucks and Red Bull have a value that extends well beyond the customer’s need for a beverage; they represent an aspirational lifestyle to which their customers connect on such a deep level they actually “live” the brand.

Inbound marketing as a system of attraction and conversion

In practice, inbound marketing is a connected system of online customer attraction and conversion. When a stranger becomes a lead, a lead becomes a customer, and that customer lives and advocates your brand . . . that is the flawless execution of inbound marketing. This powerful conversion process is why more and more organizations are practicing inbound marketing. Of companies that practice inbound marketing, 93 percent see an increase in lead generation.

Using this principle, inbound marketing specifically aims to attract those potential customers who have signaled or demonstrated an interest in what your organization has to offer. You have a valuable product or service consumers want or need — something they’re searching for online. Inbound marketing speaks directly to that need by creating conversations that connect with prospective customers, then facilitating a positive conversion action. By the way, these conversions are not always measured by the items in the online shopping cart. Your desired conversion action may certainly be a purchase, but it also may be any derived action, including:

  • Donations

  • Reviews

  • Shares or Likes on Facebook

  • Retweets on Twitter

  • Downloads

  • Demos

  • Free trials

  • Webinars

  • Newsletters

By offering value and facilitating connections, inbound marketing “pulls” in customers based on their specific expressed needs. This attractive “pull” method is a key approach that defines inbound marketing.

Simply put, the practice of inbound marketing can be defined as:

Attraction + Conversions = Customers