The Value of Content: I Don’t Always Advertise, but When I Do, I Prefer Inbound Marketing

Not long ago, we introduced you to the power of inbound marketing. But while you rack your marvelous brain as to why letting them come to you is the better strategy, we need to fill you in on how this inbound marketing approach works in the first place. The answer can be summarized in one word — value. The key to inbound marketing is that you’re offering your customer value, free of charge. This value can be information, it can be humor, or it can be friendship. The offer of value is why they come to you.
You’re putting yourself on the line here — the content you write, updating that Twitter account five times a day — it all takes time, and you’re not getting immediately rewarded for it. You’re taking a leap of faith that customers will like your content, appreciate the effort, remember you.
But if it works, the effect becomes far deeper than the traditional “our product is cheaper” ads. A pact is created between company and customer, a pact that will make your customer insist on you over all others.
What is Value, My Friends?
So what is this je ne said quoi that draws the customer in? Where does it come from? Let’s look at an extremely successful marketing campaign — Dos Equis Beer’s Most Interesting Man in the World.
This ad is a particularly good example of value, because it doesn’t even teach the customer anything — it makes the customer feel a certain way, which makes him want to buy the product. The marketing company behind the campaign apparently tried to single out the most important goal of all men, the thing they all aspire to, and came up with the quality of being “interesting”. Men respond to the commercials on a gut level (it’s very strange — observe how they tend to stop talking and listen to the words with that dreamy, far-away look in their eyes).
Notice how subtle the advertising work is here. The Most Interesting Man does not cheerlead for Dos Equis — in fact, he does not always drink beer, and even when he does, he merely prefers Dos Equis. This slight reluctance, aside from being consistent with the character, does not force the consumer’s hand, which counterintuitively makes him want Dos Equis even more!
Letting Them Come to You
The fact that users return to the videos again and again reveals that these commercials offer value to them. In fact, the campaign has become so successful that there are now entire fan websites dedicated to creating new MIMW-isms—the counterintuitive and often hilarious sayings about MIMW’s enviable skills and unique feats (when he swims, dolphins appear; he knows Victoria’s Secret; etc.)
Effectively, the consumers themselves have become the advertisers by creating new content for others to see that implicitly promotes Dos Equis Beer. (A mere fan compilation of the commercials on Youtube currently holds over 1.6 million user views.) Dos Equis followed up on this rise to fame with a dedicated website, Youtube channel, Facebook, and Twitter, capitalizing on the customers’ demand to participate further in the MIMW lifestyle.
Granted, this phenomenon is an extreme one—most ad campaigns are just not that cool—but what it does illustrate is that when a company offers content of value, nothing can come between it and the consumer. The consumer will actively search it out, tell his friends, perpetuate it, (vicariously live his life through it), etc.
The key, then, is this question: what can you offer your customers that they will find valuable? If you figure this out well enough, you’ll have so many customers you won’t be able to beat them off with a stick. They’ll crash your website. They’ll make fan videos about you. They’ll even buy your product. So, do offer value, my friends.
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