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Do my buyers fit the inbound marketing model?

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I remember having a hard time explaining to my 80-year-old father (an all-around smart, mentally with-it guy) what I do as an inbound marketing writer. “Bond marketing?” he asked, excited like a dog waiting for someone to throw a tennis ball, thanks to his fascination with the stock market and wealth management.

I let out a lighthearted laugh, having not a clue what bond marketing is, and scanned my brain for an easy analogy for how I market my employer, protocol 80, Inc., and my client companies.

“So, you write about their products?” Dad asked, no doubt recalling decades of dealing with intrusive telemarketers, door-to-door solicitors, junk mail, and TV commercials that over time evolved into spam emails clogging his inbox and Facebook ads sprinkled between pictures of his grandkids.

I had his answer: “No, it’s marketing you don’t wanna throw away or beat the hell out of.” I left explaining SEO for another day.

Which buyers fit the inbound marketing model?

Don’t overthink it! Every buyer has a journey, whether it’s one step or 10,000.


The inbound marketing model gets them there.


For my father, when he was about my age in the 1960s, the sleazy used car lot guy and the door-to-door vacuum salesman had all the answers. They could close any sale with a smile. A sucker was born every minute.

Buyers today have overwhelming power. They’re smarter than ever; the things they don’t know live in their smartphones. The only interaction they want with a salesman is at the checkout counter -- and that’s if they even leave the house to buy something.

And no, they probably didn’t see your newspaper ad.

What do they want? They want to be educated. They’re aware they have a problem, they’re considering a solution, and they need to decide which vendor provides the best solution (if you do it right, you’ll be at the top of their mind).

It’s a trust game in today’s market. A Search Engine Land survey says 85% of consumers will read at least 10 online reviews before fully trusting a business.

Buyers are naturally suspicious -- not that that’s a bad thing. Buyer psychology makes them wary of the sales pitch because they know it’s coming; they know the seller is out to reap a benefit; they personally know they’re better than that.

Buyers also are out to save themselves more than help themselves. They hate losing more than they love winning. They don’t want to be made a fool. The more they know, the better armed they are to protect themselves.

The job of an inbound marketer is to educate:

  • Tell the buyer what he needs to know
  • Be there in the end to say why your company is awesome

(Dad was shocked most of the inbound methodology doesn’t exclusively promote the company, but informs the consumer through remarkable online content tailored to the ideal buyer.)

Are there exceptions to the inbound marketing model?

There are exceptions to almost every rule. People going from awareness to consideration to decision to buy toilet paper don’t need to read a blog about it (unless you want to … click here). You don’t need to attract, convert, close, and delight someone buying Chinese food.

But here’s a legit example: One of our clients (they’ll remain nameless here for now) has pointed out that the awareness stage for their buyer persona is just different. Their persona doesn’t so much become aware of a problem as she knows she’s screwed without a certain service. Their ideal buyer’s journey doesn’t start with a problem, but with an opportunity.

No matter how their journey starts, we’ll adjust their content accordingly.

So hold your buyers’ hand. Help them understand their needs. With inbound marketing, it’s about building a relationship.

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