CHAPTER 3 Inbound Marketing

Are You Worthy?

In order to move from outbound to inbound marketing, you
need to stop interrupting people in your target market and
“get found” by them instead. To do this, you’ll need to ensure
your company’s value proposition is truly remarkable.What
do we mean by “remarkable”? We borrowed the term from
Seth God in who uses it in place of the word “unique” and we
took the liberty of italicizing “remark” in order to prompt
you to ask yourself whether your product or service is
worthy of other people’s “remarks.” Having a remarkable
strategy in the inbound marketing era is more critical than
ever for two reasons.
First, the Internet enables you to reach many more
people than you could pre-Internet, but it also opens you
to up to potential competitors everywhere (e.g. globally
versus locally). The trick is to stand out by becoming as
remarkable (unique and valuable) as possible to a segment
of buyers.
Second, the Internet enables remarkable ideas to spread
extremely quickly—far more quickly than pre-Internet days.
Unremarkable ideas languish unfound.

Inbound Marketing

Creating a Remarkable Strategy

We had a brilliant strategy professor at MIT named Arnold
Hax who used to frequently repeat the following phrase,
“Watch your competitors, but don’t follow them.” Within
your marketplace, unwritten rules form that you and all
your competitors implicitly agree to and fight along. These
rules are typically set by the current market leader who edu-cates the customers—who then force the rules upon new
entrants like you. There are two ways to create a winning
strategy in an era where remarkable ideas spread virally and
you face more competitors than ever.
The first method is to think across the traditional
boundariesof yourmarketplace toalternatives, not just com-petitors. Aclassic exampleof this typeof strategy is the iPod,
which is anMP3 player. Before the introduction of the iPod,
MP3 players had been around for a long time, but techies,
who were the early adopters, were the only people who
could figure out how to set themup to playmusic. The rules
in the techie marketplace revolved around feature richness.
Apple, on the other hand, didn’t follow these “unwritten”
rules imposed on the marketplace. Rather than compete
with the other MP3 players by making yet another gadget
with better/more features, Apple made their MP3 player
MUCH simpler (and less attractive to the techie MP3 player
crowd), integrated it with iTunes, and simplified the down-loading of music. By ignoring the existing unwritten rules
and viewing their market across market boundaries, Apple
captured a previously untapped market of non-consuming
MP3 player users—users that might have stuck with their
easy-to-use Sony Walkman rather than “upgrading” to a tech-nically challenging MP3 player.

Are You Worthy?
The second method for creating a winning strategy in
the era of inbound marketing is to be the world’s best
at what you do within your existing market rules. If you
are not the world’s best within your market, define your
market more narrowly before one of your competitors
takes that position. Take the case of the only monkey
wrench manufacturer in San Diego who has been selling
to plumbers in Southern California his whole life. (We
like to use “money wrench” as an example—it’s not a
real business.) The good news about the Web is that it
enables this manufacturer to get found by plumbers in San
Antonio, Texas; San Francisco, California; San Juan, Puerto
Rico; San Remo, Italy; and so on. The bad news is that it
opens the company up to competitors in all these other
cities andin Southern California. Rather than compete
on the same playing field with hundreds of other mon-key wrench manufacturers until the profit margins erode
to zero, the owner of the company decides to special-ize in monkey wrenches for left-handed plumbers—where
he quickly becomes the world’s best at it. Because far
more left-handed plumbers exist around the world than in
Southern California, the manufacturer’s business explodes.
If you cannot rethink your boundaries to get yourself a
broad untapped market the way Apple did with the iPod,
then you ought to narrow your boundaries within your
existing market and become the world’s best within those
If you need further help redefining your value proposi-tion, we recommend you read the first fewchapters ofBlue
Ocean Strategyby W. Chan Kim and Ren´ ee Mauborgne.
The ideas presented in this book are quite similar to those
of Professor Hax.

Inbound Marketing

Tracking Your Progress

Progress is particularly hard to measure here! If you
have a wide profit margin, then you probably have a
remarkable product offering that matters to a relevant
marketplace. If not, keep reading and consult with your
advisors or board until you come up with something truly

Inbound in Action: The Grateful Dead

he Grateful Dead had aremarkable product. They fused
rock and roll with bluegrass and mixed in jazz-style impro-visation to create a psychedelic sound. Not only did they
have a remarkable sound, they had a remarkable strat-egy that nicely illustrates both methods described in this
Rather thancompete formass audienceswith theRolling
Stones, Beatles, and other “popular” bands of its time, the
Dead had a remarkable sound that resonated very deeply
withaniche audience. Theywent narrower anddeeperwith
their target market, rather than going broad and shallow
against the myriad of other bands.
Most rock and roll bands treated concert tours as a
necessary evil required to drive sales of their latest album.
The Grateful Dead flipped this assumption on its head and
made the concert tours the main revenue driver, and album
revenues as upside to it (in fact, they let their concert goers
tape their concerts and pass copies to friends for free).
Because they flipped this assumption and focused on the
concerts, they had superior sound and light equipment, as
well as other concert enhancements, and created a unique

Are You Worthy?
experience for their audience that went beyond the typical
expectation of what a concert would be like. Most rock
band fans buy albums and attend a local concert. The
Dead’s fans criss-crossed the country, following the band
year-round. The Dead crossed boundaries from a rock band
to a way of life.
Fromanearly inboundmarketingperspective, theGrate-fulDeaddideverything right: theyhada remarkableproduct
(sound); they marketed that product to a rabid, niche mar-ket; and they ignored conventional wisdom about how to
compete for dollars in the music business by making the
concert, not album sales, their main revenue source. They
ended up creating a movement that transcended the music
itself—a strategy that enabled them to be one of the highest-grossing bands of all time.
The strategies employed by the Grateful Dead are more
relevant today than ever because the Internet enables infor-mation to spread much more easily, which in turn makes
traditional markets much more competitive.
Regardless of your musical tastes, you should apply the
marketing principles The Grateful Dead used to the prod-ucts and services you are trying to sell. Begin by asking
questions. What are the sacred-cow rules in your industry
that should be rethought? Rather than just focus on com-petitors, what alternatives can you compete with that cross
market boundaries? Rather than try to expand your market,
are you better off shrinking it and increasing profits from a
more enthusiastic set of customers?

Inbound Marketing
To Do
1.Go to iTunes and purchase a couple of Grateful Dead
songs, including “Space,” and note howremarkable
their sound is.
2.Answer the question: “What are you the world’s best
at?” If the answer is “nothing,” re-think your strategy
to get narrower or innovate across alternatives.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: