I wish I had had a quarter when I took this photo.

One of my favorite parables is the 6 blind men and the elephant. (Scroll to the end of the post to read it if you’re not familiar and then head on back up here.)

When it comes to inbound marketing, we all come into it with preconceived notions.

Mine was that content was THE most important piece. I was partly wrong.

I also got hung up on the “inbound” part of inbound marketing for too long.

If you’re new to inbound/content marketing, it might seem like a brand new strategy. It’s not. The goals are the same as they always have been when it comes to marketing — how do I nudge someone along to pay attention to and eventually buy something from me. 

That said, it IS a different and more effective way of thinking about marketing — moving away from disruption to becoming a trusted partner

Fad — The Tail

As I alluded to, it’s not a new concept — companies have used content marketing for over a century:

  • Campbell’s (cookbooks)
  • John Deere (The Furrow magazine, published since 1895)
  • Jell-O cookbooks

Read some of Ogilvy’s classics on the art of advertising and you’ll find the same concepts we’re talking about in inbound and content marketing. As folks get bored with the name, it’ll change and morph over the next decade to the shiny NEXT BEST THING.

Smart companies will continue to focus on what works.

Just Leads — Tusks

You need leads, of course, but you want to slowly nurture them, not immediately dial them up with a “Buy something from me” call. I hate those, don’t you?

Phone – Trunk

Just another way of blasting my message out. When’s the last time you bought something based on a cold call you received?

That said, a cold call will occassionally work. My wife has a relationship with Hyatt that originated in a phone call from a Hyatt sales lady. Since then, my wife and Sharon have become friends and that call has generated millions of event dollars for Hyatt over the past decade.

But, seriously, how often has that happened in your cold call efforts?

Phone calls can be a useful component in an automated sales sequence, but that’s within the context of a nurture campaign.

Wall O’ Content — Flank

Content drives inbound marketing and is critical (useful content geared to YOUR audience, of course). However, don’t forget about amplification via email, social networks, SEO, etc.

I Don’t Need to Change — Legs

If you aren’t delivering a good product, or give a damn about your customers, inbound marketing can be effective at pulling in new people but you’re just putting lipstick on the pig. Inbound won’t support you forever if you don’t care.

You can fake it, but you can’t fake it forever.

Automation – Ears

Somewhere in the depths of any marketing automation campaign is the manual work of deciding all of the if/then statements, writing the emails and the assets, ingesting and creating the criteria for who goes on what list, etc.

Here’s the dirty secret of automation — it’s manual and it takes time. Don’t think it just happens by magic. Automation is for the customer. Behind every great automated nurture campaign is a HubSpot (or other marketing automation platform) monkey, poking all the buttons to make it happen.

Somewhere behind every marketing automation plan is a barrel of monkeys. Photo by Park Troopers on Unsplash

Memory – The Head

There’s a bonus 7th blind man in my parable. Inbound will help you remember who your customers are and provide the information that they are interested in.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking of inbound marketing as predominately one thing. It’s all of these things — and more. Also, like an elephant, once an inbound marketing effort gets up to speed it can be unstoppable.

Your content marketing strategy once it starts rolling. Photo by Zoë Reeve on Unsplash

Need help creating your content (or inbound if you prefer) marketing strategy and/or content? Drop me a line at duhonius@gmail.com, reply below, or give me a call (or text, text is better, what with all the phone spam) at 301-275-7496.

Blind Men and the Elephant – A Poem by John Godfrey Saxe
Here is John Godfrey Saxe’s (1816-1887) version of Blind Men and the Elephant:

It was six men of Indostan,
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approach’d the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, -“Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me ’tis mighty clear,
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!”

The Third approach’d the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
“I see,” -quoth he- “the Elephant
Is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain,” -quoth he,-
“‘Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said- “E’en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Then, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
“I see,” -quoth he,- “the Elephant
Is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

MORAL,
So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean;
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

About the Author bryantduhon

Editor. Dad. Husband. Writer. Content marketer and strategist. Serial constructive procrastinator. Pizza eater. Beer drinker. Not always in that order.

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