Have you bought into the concept of inbound marketing, or do you think this is a contradiction in terms?
We're so used to the idea that marketing should be outbound, we ignore the evidence in front of our own eyes - and this evidence proves inbound marketing works a lot better than outbound, largely because of the fact inbound marketers spend less time trying to "persuade" the prospect.
A customer doesn't need to be told over and over again how great a product or service is and how much it's going to improve their lives or their business. They don't need to be told that buying something will make them more successful, beautiful, sexy, productive or happy. They need their problem solved, even if they don't know they have a problem.
These are some of the messages outbound marketers try to send, and the truth is, customers are tired of them. They don't want to be told what's good for them anymore. They want to make their own decisions. They want inbound marketers to provide them with the information they need to make educated decisions.
The Inbound Marketing Message of Self-Acceptance
With inbound marketing, customers are encouraged to believe that the way they are is good enough. There's no need for them to achieve more unless they truly want to make a change. Solving a problem becomes a choice.
So the customer ends up feeling better about their situation, and this self-acceptance leads them to want to embrace all those extra things the product or service promises to give them.
Making the Customer Feel Good About Who They Are
As Maya Angelou once said:
"I've learned people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel."
Outbound marketing has the unfortunate effect of making people feel inferior - by presenting people with models who appear to be more beautiful, more successful and wealthy, outbound marketing sometimes defeats its own purpose.
People looking at these models are likely to feel like they're not good enough, which can result in dejection (it doesn't matter whether I buy the product or not, I'm never going to be that rich/pretty/successful anyway) or rebelliousness (who cares? I don't want to be that rich/pretty/successful. Who are they to tell me what I should be like?)
Inbound marketing has a more welcoming effect (so you're looking for more information? Well let me tell you what we can do for you). It makes the transaction more about the customer than the company.
Staying Away from Condemnation and Criticism
The idea is to enhance the customer's self-image and bolster their ego - you want the customer to feel there's really nothing wrong with them after all, they're great just the way they are. But since they're interested in knowing more about this great product or service and what it can do for them, here's all the information.
And this is the reason why any information presented on a website, blog or social media site needs to be written in a completely non-judgmental way. There shouldn't be a whiff of condemnation or criticism about it.
As noted by Dale Carnegie in his seminal book, 'How to Win Friends and Influence People', you shouldn't condemn, criticize or complain. And what does marketing - outbound as well as inbound - seek to do except influence people in some way?
Carnegie might have written the book a century ago but the rules of dealing with people remain the same. Making people feel good is a much better way of getting them to do what you want, as opposed to making them feel bad. Rewards work better than punishments, and this is the reason why inbound works better than outbound.
This post was originally published on The Fried Side blog.