By now it’s no secret, inbound marketing works. Not only does it work, it works wonders. Just ask Marcus Sheridan of River Pools and Spas. If you haven’t heard his story by now you should look it up.
On the verge of going under he started a swimming pool blog. That blog became a driving force that ultimately propelled his business from the brink of disaster into one of the most successful pool companies in the nation.
Now you can find him on The Sales Lion flying the inbound marketing banner and touting its virtues to all who will listen.
I was lucky enough to hear Marcus give a keynote at Content Marketing World this September. That one speech radically shifted my views on what marketing was and how it should be done.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he was right. The future of marketing is insourcing and your best marketing asset is sitting in your office.
The Japanese have brought us a lot of great things like Ninja Warrior, Pokemon, and karaoke. But one of my favorites is the idea of the Gemba.
Gemba roughly translates into “the real place.” In the much talked about Toyota Production System, the gemba is the place where all management decisions should be made.
The reason for this is simple. Unless you are in the real place it is impossible to have a good enough grasp of a situation to make the correct decision.
Why this concept hasn’t been applied to marketing yet is beyond me, because it totally fits.
Think of it this way. Imagine your business sells a giant pair of calipers that use some funky math to estimate the weight of a cow just by measuring the width of its hips.
There are probably not a lot of content agencies or freelance writers out there who know funky math and cows well enough to write authoritatively on the subject. Even if they do understand the concepts intellectually they still can’t grasp the entire experience because they aren’t out there in the cold slogging through the manure.
There will always be a place for agencies and freelancers. It is impossible for some small businesses to create enough content on their own. But the meaty content, the cornerstone content, as Brian Clark from Copyblogger calls it, needs to be created in house.
You don’t start making giant cow calipers, called Hipometers by the way, because of the money in it. There are a lot more lucrative products and industries that you could pursue if getting rich is your only goal.
This kind of product gets made because someone who is passionate about what they do saw a need.
That is how most small and medium sized businesses are started. The owners aren’t in the game to get fabulously wealthy. They just want to make a living helping people and doing something that they love.
The great thing about passion is that it's infectious. When your readers can see the passion in your content they will be excited to read more. The more they read the more likely they will be to do business with you.
It doesn’t exist now except maybe in a closet in my parents’ house back in New York. The business failed. I don’t really know why. The product worked well. It was easier to use than the traditional methods of weight estimation. Maybe the market wasn’t ready. Maybe my dad and his partners made bad business decisions. There are a thousand reasons why a good product never makes it.
What I do remember is how hard my dad worked. He really threw his whole heart and soul into the project. Our little family did all we could to help. I remember all four of us kids helping him clean off a bunch of the Hipometers that had been damaged by flooding. Yeah, we had some setbacks.
When the business went under I knew that it hurt him. He wanted to buy us the world and I’m sure he hoped that this business would let him do it.
We struggled after that. I spent a Christmas or four with only a few little presents under the tree. Although I miss all the Legos that I might have gotten, to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t change a thing.
I was so incredibly proud to be my father’s son. Now that I am older, the courage it took to start a business with a small family is clearer to me. I am even more proud. My ears are getting red and I can feel it swelling in my chest as I write this.
I hope you can tell that I love my dad.
Don’t you love my dad too? Doesn’t this story make you want to buy a dozen Hipometers even though you don’t own any cows?
That is the power of story. Only someone who has dealt with the heartbreaks and the euphoric successes can honestly tell the story of a business.
That is why Marcus's story is so compelling. That is why it has been featured in a number of books and talked about by marketers all over. His story is marketing for him.
The biggest reason that the future of marketing is in your office is because now it can be. That’s right. It’s as simple as that.
In the past marketing required a number of different people with very different skill sets.
To advertise you needed a creative who could make the message and a media buyer who knew where to put it. To track ROI you would have to hire someone else.
Today most of that has been nestled neatly into one little package called Hubspot.
Now you can create a blog and easily track which posts are getting views. When you make a sale you can see exactly where it came from.
Never before has marketing been so easy.
I like to think that if Hubspot would have been around in 2000 when my Dad started his business he could have made it work.
Look around you. As you have been reading this, a name or a face probably came into your mind. It might have be your own.
The future of marketing is already in your office. Inbound marketing came too late for my dad. But it is not too late for you.