Back in the day, advertising worked something like this. You boil your product down to a "value proposition," put a price on it, and then batter your most likely purchaser with offers...as many offers as you can afford...until they buy. Sounds elegant, huh?
Meanwhile, both marketers and consumers have been dreaming for a century (yeah, literally a hundred years) of an approach that would take advertising back to the days of the personal relationship. Where a consumer came into a store and consulted with the storekeeper about her life, her ideas, her preferences, her family, her taste...what she wanted (in sometimes wistful terms).
And the storekeeper, in turn, would listen with one ear, while scrolling through the hundreds of products on the shelf, and the hundreds of thousands of products available to him (via the iron horse, the stock yards, a stack of catalogues, and a steady stream of salesmen stopping by each week). Until finally... "I have just the thing!"
Well, finally, digital technology has almost caught up with the iron horse and the general store. That's what Inbound is about.
You show your prospect(s) something you think they'll be interested in. A white paper. A great Money Market rate. A new way of making tools. A new kind of conference. And then...when they come to you...you capture their contact information and the dialogue begins.
From that point on, you (via automated email) send them periodic correspondences. You make them occasional offers. You keep their attention by asking for it (not by demanding it). Meanwhile, you're automated marketing program keeps track of them...how often they visit your site...what pages they visit...how long they spend on a page...which emails they open...which buttons or hotlinks they click...
The more you interact with them, the more you understand them...their life...their ideas...their preferences...their family...their taste...what they want (perhaps in wistful terms). Until finally, you're ready to make a call. You reach out to them (via their preferred communication method) to let them know... "I have just the thing!"
Now, in the nitty-gritty of Inbound, there's a lot of technology and techniques. There are calls to action (CTA), landing pages, forms, contact tracking tools...but we've got that part covered. When you think of Inbound, you simply need to think of it as...
THE CONVERSATION YOU'VE BEEN WANTING TO HAVE FOR A CENTURY.