In 2012 Douglas Merrill wrote an article Forbes titled “Knowledge is Power? Those Days are long Gone.” In the article he talked about the transition from a society where knowledge was scarce and difficult to acquire to one filled with an abundance of knowledge that is easily acquirable.
Merrill makes the case that in today’s information rich society it isn’t the accumulation of knowledge that brings power, rather it is the distribution of knowledge that brings real power. Consider for a moment the power of Matt Drudge and his news website “The Drudge Report”.
A recent article by Brent Budowsky, a columnist for thehill.com, examined the power someone like Drudge holds because he influences the thoughts of millions of Americans each day by the articles he posts on his site. The interesting thing about the Drudge Report is that it doesn’t create its own content. The team scours the web for information that Drudge finds interesting, then shares the links on the site.
The power of inbound marketing lies in the creation of quality content, created specifically for a target demographic. Like Drudge, inbound marketers get to influence the thoughts of their visitors through the information they provide.
If the information they provide is of value and solves a problem, the visitors come back time and time again. If the site doesn’t provide value consumers are quickly on their way to the next Google result, looking for their own little nirvana.
A careful examination of inbound marketing reveals how powerful the process is and why it is the solution to not only a business need, but also customers need as well.
In the first part of the sales funnel, inbound marketers are trying to attract visitors who are searching for answers. Basic content plays a key role in this stage because individuals are still in the beginning stages of information gathering. Blog posts and free white papers are the standard fare here.
The second part of the sales funnel is where the information becomes more in-depth. This is where more detailed information is given, but at a price. Consumers must typically give up their name and email address to acquire the desired content. At this stage, the site is beginning to build influence because the prospect is willing to give something for it.
Next is the prospect phase of the sales funnel where the site has gained enough influence with the potential lead to capture more information and deepen the relationship. The information offered here is considered the best the company has to offer. Premium white papers filled with case studies or detailed research help convert the prospects into customers.
Once the prospects are converted into customers, the inbound marketer continues to build influence by providing additional information that adds value. This information—like the Drudge report—can come from a variety of sources and makes you, the provider of information, and a trusted advisor.
Inbound marketing falls in line with the theory proposed in Merrill’s article. By informing and educating those around you, you grow in influence and esteem. And by so doing, you change the world one person at a time.