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5 Rap Lyrics that Double as Marketing Lessons (for Real)

Anybody who has ever seen 8 Mile or Hustle & Flow knows how hard it is for young aspiring musicians to market themselves. Still, while we are not directly involved in the rap game here at Element Three (though Zach Labrecque and I occasionally rap about our dirty dishes in the sink), as I was listening to one of my favorite albums over the weekend, I realized that maybe TED talks are actually a distant runner-up to Def Jam Records as a provider of inspiration and insight. 

To me, what's great about inbound marketing is that an organization gains the ability to convey the personalities of its employees in a way that helps distinguish and differentiate them from other businesses in their marketplace. Whether you're an inbound marketing pro or your organization is just getting started, here's advice from sources such as a reputable, family-friendly doctor and an ice-cold poet from another century.

vanilla ice1. "Stop! Collaborate, and listen." Vanilla Ice, 1990

Vanilla Ice was undoubtedly talking about inbound marketing, even if won't admit it. Generally speaking, we share one common trait -- a passion for learning new things. As you start blogging and being more active on social media, it's likely that you'll find members of your organization stepping outside of their roles. From my experience, there's nothing more rewarding than this. Working together enables you to come up with new, creative ideas, and gaining new skills has helped me understand how I can best complement other members of our team.

2. "Everything I'm not made me everything I am." Kanye West, 2008

I think it's only natural to focus on the things we're good at. I know what I am very good at, the skills that I am working hard to develop, and areas where I have little to no proficiency. Don't let your limitations hold you back, though. You may have people within your organization that are afraid to blog because they don't feel they are strong writers, or people that are afraid to interact with clients because they don't feel like they are suited to that role. But these shouldn't be seen as limitations, they should be seen as areas of growth. Learning to do new things makes you a stronger person and being able to make contributions to your organization in different ways and take on additional roles is what I would consider #trueINBOUND.

3. "I don't care what brand you are, I'm concerned...what your principles and standards are." Mos Def, 2004

Mos Def is only half right -- your organization's brand, as well as your personal brand, are actually very important, as is the ability to communicate this brand in your market. Even if people say they don't care about your brand, they still notice it and are influenced by it (even if they don't realize it or can't put it into words).

But he's right on when he says he cares about your organization's principles and standards. This can be part of your organization's brand, and it can come across in everything you do (like your social media presence). People value honesty and good service, and they don't want to see your organization as a faceless, emotionless husk that sells them things and offers no personal interaction or personality.

4. "I'm expressin' with my full capabilities, cause some don't agree with how I do this." Dr. Dre, 1988

There's a chance that Dre wasn't actually talking about inbound marketing, but he is a doctor, so he's still a very credible source of information. When you're getting started with inbound marketing, it's a leap of faith in a lot of ways. There's very little chance that you'll immediately see results, and positive ROI will undoubtedly be your focus from day one (after all, what's the point in expanding within your marketplace if you lose money doing it). But nothing in life comes with certain success. Taking chances and trying new things are what gets you noticed. Playing it safe gives your competition an opportunity to shut you out of the marketplace. And over time, it will pay off: 92% of companies that go inbound increase traffic and lead generation.

5. "Reach for the stars, so if you fall, you land on a cloud." Kanye West, 2008

My goal was to make it through this list without repeating, but maybe I can get Kanye to read my post and tweet it out. Don't be afraid to take a creative idea and run with it. I think of an idea like our own "This is Inbound Marketing" video that came from an idea with no budget and turned into something that every member of our team contributed to and that we're really proud of.

Just because an idea is bold and unconventional doesn't mean it's not worth pursuing. That's my favorite type of idea, because it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Bland ideas don't go viral on social media, and playing it safe doesn't get your business noticed. Being willing to try new things, especially things that seem crazy at first, is how you succeed. That's #trueINBOUND.

Disagree? Think I should have quoted Kid 'n Play or Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch? Leave a comment below or heckle me on Twitter!

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