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Inbound Marketing Summit Re-cap

May 2, 2009

Inbound Marketing Summit

I just got back from the Inbound Marketing Summit in San Francisco and I was blown away by the amount of information, the open sharing attitude of every single attendee and the overall atmosphere. I’ll be following up information trails for weeks. Here are a few of my notes.

So, what is this “Inbound Marketing” you ask?
Like social media, it’s not exactly new, but the basic idea is to create content so hot, so valuable, that people are naturally drawn to you to learn more. You don’t have to pay ad rates to get people to find you, they do it on their own because word of all that you have to share spreads from connection to connection.

Why is Inbound marketing suddenly so hot?
It’s got a lot to do with the adoption of social media. As we use the social sites more we share information more quickly. We’re used to getting quality information for free and tapping into the intelligence of the crowd to learn and make decisions.

Plain old “spray and pray” ad campaigns are not going to cut it anymore.
That kind of broadcasting marketing speak without giving value just goes by without notice. Or, worse yet, it gets pointed out as what not to do. Shoving your message down your users throats can get you burned badly, and in social media it only takes minutes for the message to get around that your company is behind the times.

I learned a lot, and had a lot of my own beliefs validated at this conference, and I don’t have room for all of it in one post (look for more) but here’s my take on what I heard.

David Meerman Scott
It’s not about you. Nobody cares about your business but you, so get over yourself and start providing value. THAT they care about.

Create a world-wide rave about your product. You don’t need to buy attention (paid ads) or even beg for it, You need to create your own way of marketing and attract customers.

He gave the example of a traditional yellow pages ad that was costing $2,000/month. He asked the crowd who’d last used the yellow pages to find something not a hand went up. When the dentist in his example dropped her yellow pages ad and put her energy into publishing an e-book her inbound marketing technique increased her revenue from $150,000 to over $1 million

Charlene Li
Give up control – you never had it anyway.

Charlene has very carefully built her consulting and speaking business around her book (groundswell, co-written with Josh Bernoff), her blog and her social networks. She doesn’t use outbound marketing for her business.

Charlene’s presentation was about overcoming the curmudgeon. You know the one, the person who says this way of thinking is “all a fad”, “un-measurable” and “too risky”. She recommended making it real for them. Find examples that show real return they can relate to. How do you do that? Listen. Listen to what they care about, even if it doesn’t directly relate to the business at hand. Tie the strategy your outlining to achievable goals and then over-achieve.Use marketing analytics to show the results, and if at all possible tie them to similar traditional campaigns to show the offset.

Aaron Strout
At some point businesses stopped listening. To their customers and their competitors.

Customer service departments were created to talk to the customer, but let’s face it there really isn’t a lot of engagement in most customer service conversations. (That’s radically changing now due to tools like Get Satisfaction and UserVoice).

Don’t let the corporate machine hold you back from listening and engaging with your customers and yes, even your competitors. Use tools to listen to what’s going on out there and then engage where the users are already talking. If they’re talking about your product in a forum, on FaceBook or Twitter, sign up and engage then in one on one conversation. Don’t feel like you have to spend thousands to set up an on-line community with all the latest bells and whistles. Any company or individual can engage through existing communities and test the waters. You may find you never need to build that humongous community after all.

And last, but not least: “Building community is not a campaign — it’s a philosophy that takes time to come to fruition”

Kelly Shibari
As Chris Brogan said in the intro for her session, “the adult industry and Wall St. Journal/newspapers are in the same predicament. No one wants to pay.”

Doesn’t everybody know that the adult industry is one of the biggest money-makers on the web? There’s certainly a lot to learn from how these marketers work.

Kelly shared some good tips on offering quality free or low cost content to build a relationship and then charge more to deepen the relationship. Think about what you can give away for free that will deepen your relationship with your customer.

The entertainers who are the most profitable are the most willing to reach out to their fans, interact directly with photo and autograph sessions and stay approachable. At the same time, if the focus of the content is very specialized take advantage of that with exclusive members only events. People will spread the word by talking about how they got exclusive access.

Using Outbound Marketing for the new web
This panel was about more traditional marketing tools like press releases and email marketing and how they too are adapting. Panelists included: Michael Pranikoff – PR Newswire, Matt Goddard – R2integrated, Chuck Hester – iContact Corporation, Brian Solis – PR 2.0, Greg Cangialosi – Blue Sky Factory

Press releases may no longer be an effective tool at getting media coverage. Mass marketing press releases are largely ignored unless they contain interactive content. Brian Solis mentioned CCBetty.com as a way to send interactive content that users can download and use in their articles, blog posts etc.

Use email to distribute your content, not for a sales pitch for your services. Provide value first, get them ready to hear you.

Some presentations from the Inbound Marketing Summit
The New Media Consumer Revealed Edison
There is No Information Overload Louis Gray
Listening and Engaging with Consumers in Social Networks Rich Ullman
Convincing the Curmudgeon Charlene Li

If you have links to more presentations or summaries, please email me and I’ll add them to the list.

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  • Great post Janet. As a relative novice in this area, I really appreciate posts like this which provide an introduction. I am planning on launchng training products and trying to deetrmine how to 'deepen my relationships' with my blog readers and potential clients.

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