When I opened my first cycling studio in late 2004, we relied heavily on traditional “outbound” marketing. By that I mean we blasted out our sales message in newspapers, magazines, direct mail, email and brochures. Outbound (traditional) marketing has a few characteristics that define it: It’s more like a bullhorn than like a magnet — you shout your message, blast it broadly and hope someone hears it.
Over the past few years we have migrated to a new kind of marketing that people are calling “inbound” or “content” marketing. A well known marketing website called Junta 42 defines Content Marketing like this:
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage an audience.
What does this mean? It means using your marketing as a magnet, not a bullhorn. It means creating and distributing interesting content so that customers are attracted to you, find you, and stay with you. There are many examples of how this works — here is a basic one:
|Outbound Marketing||Inbound Marketing|
|Create a cool looking ad telling what an awesome place you have. Put the ad in a random spot in your local newspaper for six weeks.||Write an interesting article on the benefits of indoor cycling on cardio fitness. Post on your website, send email with links to it, make it rich with key words that people search on|
|Cost: ad creation plus media placement, roughly $2,000 to $3,000||Cost: no direct cost. Time is a few hours to research, write and post article|
|Result: Very hard to measure but maybe a few customers come in . Once the ads run, they are gone forever and you have to repeat the program to continue.||
Result: People locally searching a related topic will find this article and be directed to your website. Article stays online and searchable forever.
There is still a place for traditional media and outbound marketing, but our own studio’s experience is that content and “inbound” marketing practices can be effective as well as cost-efficient. A big part of this is that “content” makes your website more highly visible to search engines…….and search engines are where more and more people start looking for a place to work out. Do you have stories about content marketing in your own business? Please share some examples if you have them, we’d love to hear your thoughts.