Everyday inspiration seems to hit me at the weirdest times. As I write this from a hotel room in Chicago, this is the first post-COVID business trip the TMC team has been on. This is what one would consider a more "outbound" method of marketing; meaning, we're literally traveling to our client.
It may seem weird to hear us talking about this type of marketing, as we are proponents of the importance of inbound marketing, but the two go hand-in-hand.
We know how important it is to get in front of customers and clients and we also understand that having an inbound marketing plan is just as important for a B2B business. So how can you marry the relationship and value of outbound face-to-face marketing with an inbound methodology?
It Starts With A Damn Good Story
I recently bought a new pan. While that may seem silly and trivial within the foodservice realm, it means more to me. You see, I loathe cooking. Perhaps it's because I have three small children that automatically deem anything that isn't boxed mac and cheese as "nasty," . . . and don't even get me started on vegetables. Literal wars were fought with more ease than getting my son to eat anything that resembles a veggie. I am the self-proclaimed queen of "supporting local restaurants." All of this is an elaborate preface to paint an accurate picture that I am not the target demographic to be sold a new pan. But, I am a sucker for good marketing. In my case, that means Instagram marketing that appeals to my aesthetic.
I follow a lot of influencers, and reality TV. Getting a "backstage pass" into someone's life is fascinating to me (though I'm fully aware that it's edited and curated content. I still can't quit. I'm nosey.) I once watched an influencer tout the benefits of this new pan that they had been sent. It performed well in whatever recipe she was cooking. That part didn't stick with me. The part that did? The pan was pretty. It came in a wide variety of colors, and much of their marketing focus was on the release of new colors, and the hype that went along with that. I love color, and being different, and this pan seemed to tick all the boxes- with the main one being that it came in all these really cool colors and would look really pretty in my home, and could potentially stand out in a social media feed...even if all that was being cooked in it was boxed mac and cheese.
I wavered on this decision for months, going back and forth between "this is dumb, I don't cook" and "oooh they just released a purple one!" During this entire time, I was bombarded with marketing tricks, from paid and boosted social media ads (a lot of them) to email campaigns because I had clicked on their website and then added this pan to my cart. Even though I hadn't clicked the purchase button, I had still engaged with their site. But I still wasn't quite ready to make a purchase so they used tracking data to sell me on it, like marketing wizards.
Last week, I finally bought the pan. They had an early Black Friday promotion, and a brand new color was released that I couldn't say no to. It arrived on my doorstep a few days later, and I rushed to the store to buy something to prepare for it. And then what did I do? I posted about it on social media as a delighted customer and started the inbound flywheel of marketing all over again.
Why Does This Experience Matter?
A story is what drew me in. I learned about this company from someone I follow. It wasn't a postcard in my mailbox or a blind call on my cell phone. It was strategically placed in a location where I already am immersed. I wasn't using keywords or search engines to find the most colorful pans on the market. I was drawn in because of the story. This particular brand is loud in the social media world. I can't even imagine what their social ad budget must be. This isn't said to persuade all our clients to immediately drop a ton of money to Mark Zuckerberg and his platforms. I use this experience as an example of how you can be loud in the digital world and marry the old outbound methodology with inbound strategy.
Video and spoken word play a vital role in that. No one tells your brand's story the way that you do. And then, once you draw in a customer or client, they, in turn, become living and breathing brand cheerleaders on your behalf. The chances are good that they aren't in the blog-writing world, either. This is all done through the spoken word. On our most recent Freshly Baked TMC podcast, Erik spoke about how video and podcasts are the next-gen of marketing and the power behind those two things.
We Have To Live Outbound In The Inbound Space
Stories draw people in, and those stories and relationships are what, in turn, will attract new leads. The foodservice world is changing quickly, and it's up to you and your brand to be significant in this quickly-changing market. Find that significance and then sing it loud and proud for everyone to hear. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and try something that hasn't been done before. Start a video series with your chef and digitally utilize them to bring their knowledge and expertise into the world.
People want the connection of traditional outbound marketing, with the convenience of having it at their disposal. If they want to watch a video on cooking something in a specific oven, they have the ability to do that at any time that's convenient for them. No meetings, handshakes, emails, or phone calls are necessary. Your story is being told.
Is Written Content Dead?
The artistic writer in me really pushes against this notion. Of course, the written word isn't dead. Good marketing will take a method and then make it applicable in all ways. Since buying my pan, I've been sent specific and targeted emails that make my heart go flitter flutter. The one I opened and read this morning in my hotel bed at 5:00 am that struck this blog inspiration was about upkeep. Once I excitedly posted my Instagram story the other day and tagged the brand, they actually responded to my story. Those key factors enhance my buyer's journey experience and turn me into a delighted repeat customer. If I were to google "colorful pans," they show up on the top of the page and are optimized correctly and effectively. This is all done with the power of text.
But initially? It was the story that drew me in and sold me on something (an experience) that I wasn't even searching for, and I'm already browsing their website for their new dutch oven-style pot that has just been released. And in the meantime, my kids will have their once-frozen or boxed cuisine prepared in the prettiest pan ever.