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How inbound marketing taught me to tell the truth

By April 7, 2015April 20th, 2015Digital Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Strategy

I learned an extremely valuable lesson from, of all people, a landlord—I mean landlady. She has multiple homes for rent. That is her business. She was frustrated by the amount of time she spent meeting prospective tenants who, within a few minutes would decide that the place wasn’t for them. They didn’t like the floor, or the neighbor’s yard, or the window coverings—any number of things. Part of her day was gone.

Then she had an epiphany, which led to mine. In real estate, people always highlight the best things about a property and typically conceal anything that might be a turnoff. You know the drill—cute means small, quaint means old, rustic means about to fall down. My friend decided to use videos to advertise her properties, and to show everything she possibly could about the home and the property. That way prospective tenants could see everything online that they could see in person. If they didn’t like linoleum, they would see it in advance. If they couldn’t live with color of the tile in the bathroom, they could see in advance. They’re going to see it anyway if they visit the property, so show everything. You’ll get calls from people who want what you have to offer.

“I realized that by hiding the things people might not like about a property, I was just creating more work for myself,” my landlord friend said. “When people called after seeing the video, I knew it would be a much better use of my time.”

Light bulb! How often in marketing do we overstate, embellish, conceal and exaggerate? Don’t feel bad. Most of us have been trained to do this. Marketing is supposed to be about promotion, right? Did it ever occur to you that by overstating benefits and concealing limitations of products, you’re just creating work for yourselves—or worse, you’re creating work for your sales team. There’s no better way to ruin your credibility with salespeople than by handing them a pile of unqualified leads.

Well, it didn’t occur to me until that conversion with the landlady.

What I love about inbound marketing is that it rewards the truth. Creating content that educates people about a technology or service, and that aims to be helpful, not salesly, allows us to connect with the people who are genuinely interested in what we are talking about. You’re not going to trick someone into buying something that they don’t want or need, so stop trying! Even if you succeed, you’ll lose more than you gain.

I was at a giant manufacturing technology trade show in Chicago last year (IMTS, for those who want to go to the next giant manufacturing technology trade show). Vendor after vendor had beautiful models prowling the perimeters of their booths, asking to scan attendees’ badges. In that demographic, they had no problem. They were getting leads by the bushel. But were they really? Who is going to follow up on all these “leads?” They were creating a lot of work for someone.

My landlady friend figured out how to allow prospects to self qualify. By being very honest about what her properties offer, and what they don’t, she got better tenants faster. That’s what inbound marketing does when it is done right. We create content with honest intentions to educate, inform and engage, and to make it easy for people who want to take a closer look to do so.

Hubspot coined the phrase “Create marketing people love.” It’s a great line because no one loves to be marketed to with traditional methods. The idea of loveable marketing is appealing to both marketers and customers. So let’s make more of it.

That’s how inbound marketing taught me to tell the truth (with help from a landlady).

To learn more about inbound marketing, download the “Alaniz Guide to Driving Traffic, Leads, and Sales.” If have any questions leave them as comments or shoot me an email.

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