If you’ve been paying attention to recent marketing trends lately, you have most likely heard of inbound marketing or its extremely similar counterpart, permission marketing. Both are built on the concept that, by releasing meaningful content that is aligned with your customer’s interests and values, you will attract the right kinds of customers to you.
Tactically speaking, inbound marketing is achieved by releasing content through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, enewsletters, whitepapers, social media sites, and the like. While I agree these are important tactics, I also believe that when we get too caught up in the tactics, it is easy to forget that aligning our content with our customers interests and values is not enough. The most important thing is that we align our actions first and the content will follow. Some of the most effective things we can do to attract customers and generate word-of-mouth marketing through social media platforms come from the things we do offline.
Let me give you an example. One of our clients owns a movie theater in a small town in Washington. In an effort to generate a buzz on Facebook, he decided to put on special midnight showings of old favorites like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. To advertise the event, they did everything an inbound marketing campaign would suggest and more: they posted about it on their blog and on Facebook, passed out flyers, put up posters and sent out emails. For some reason, though, they just weren’t getting much interest or traction they were looking for and they weren’t very exciting events for their staff to put on.
The special showings really became successful when they changed their definition of success from a monetary one to a social and community one. They contacted charities and started doing midnight fundraisers for them. Once they did that, the events became far more compelling for them and other people to talk about. As a result, the content they produced in calling attention to these events was no longer about getting people to come to the theater, but about supporting organizations that were important to their community. This is a powerful notion.
From a monetary standpoint, the difference is negligible, but the real success is the word of mouth and good will that is spread as a result of the relationships they build in the community. People are actually talking about the theater in a more authentic way both interpersonally and online. The charities are talking about their events, and the charity’s followers are talking about the events and bringing people there.
The theater’s customers now see the special midnight showings as authentic events that they connect with on an emotional level.