Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Inbound Marketing -- Move from Megaphone to Hub

How do you transform a web site from a "one-t0-many" megaphone to a collaborative platform that engages your target community? That's one of the key questions -- and answers -- you'll find in the new book Inbound Marketing by author Brian Halligan, co-founder of Hubspot.com. I recently had the chance to interview him for the AMA podcast (listen here) and he's got a practical and knowledgeable perspective on moving from traditional broadcast marketing to what really works in today's consumer-driven marketplace.

Fundamentally, shopping has changed in the last five years, but many marketers have not yet caught on to this shift. If you look at the online presence for way too many companies, their sites are brochure-ware, listing their stuff in a way that makes sense to them. Even with all the knowledge, research, and consumer input we have at our fingertips today, marketers still are holding fast to the "I've built it so they should come" mantra that drove most of the last thirty years of marketing's efforts.

Today, however, consumer find their preferred products and services through HUBs -- web sites that have lots of ways in and connections to relevant and remarkable content. This is a simple, key difference that Halligan highlights in his book as one key to success. Your web site should have lots of connections (think a major airport versus a small town single-runway airport). Those connections are ways into the site -- whether they be from other flights, or different transportation means (think trains, buses, taxis, consumer-driven cars, etc). The point is there are lots of ways in, and once you're there, you are rewarded with great content.

It used to be said that content is king for the web. After listening to Brian, I think this is still true, but we have lost sight of what makes for good content. He suggests making it REMARKABLE. In other words, content that others will WANT to remark about in their own communication channels, or on your own site. Simply bragging about your stuff doesn't suffice. You may have achieved your keyword density, but you've deprived the reader of the ability to engage in a conversation.

Halligan's book, Inbound Marketing, reads like a user manual for how to generate leads in a world where the marketing rules have changed (see David Meerman Scott for those rules). Halligan provides very specific instructions on how to use popular social media channels, and how to set up your own efforts, measure them, and then try again. It's an easily accessible read for those who are just starting out to those who think they know everything but want a nice refresher.

He's got two pages of resources and tools he likes to use -- but in the interview he suggests using Website Grader to evaluate your site's HUB potential.

If you've read the book, or after listening to the interview, please let me know what you think. I'd enjoy hearing your opinion on Inbound Marketing.

-- David Kinard, PCM

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