Looking to understand inbound marketing? We have described how you can sell bananas through inbound marketing methodology


How to Sell Bananas Through Inbound Marketing Methodology

I accidentally created this analogy when I was trying to answer a question posed on the ColdAd™ website by a… (you can call him a new lead, but we call him a new friend.) He asked “what is inbound marketing?” He has also just subscribed to our mailing list so he might even be reading this article, too.

He went on to say, “To be honest, I just heard the expression ‘inbound marketing’ for the first time. I had to Google it and I still don’t understand it exactly. Would it even apply or help us? I don’t know.”
He is a successful business owner but is new to the world of digital marketing.

Really! What is it? A new SEO? How do you answer his question? It’s not like he’s a 5-year-old, so I don’t want to condescend or be rude to him. But how do I define inbound marketing to him in a simple sentence. Can you?

In a very short email, I came back with a “story” that I want to expand here. It’s a story of selling a simple product (like bananas) using the inbound marketing methodology.

Banana Inbound Marketing Story…

Imagine Jack (which is my favourite fake name) is a banana farmer. He used to sell his bananas through a distributor. But the third party commission was a lot so he decided to sell his bananas directly. A physical store can be an expensive option and he wants to use the Internet for potentially reaching more leads.

Website, a hub for inbound marketing efforts

He creates a website to sell bananas (www.bananasdirect.com). It’s easy for him to create a static website and just leave a phone number or contact form for potential clients. Or maybe an eCommerce website to allow clients to purchase bananas online and pay directly. But now he wants to implement inbound marketing.

Internet marketing can be a static website or an eCommerce web store, but it is not inbound marketing.

Blogging, the publication tool

Jack starts to write blog articles on his website (we call that content marketing). But instead of talking about the generic content of bananas (like the size of bananas, the calories and the color of bananas, how big his farm is and who has already purchased his bananas) or pushing visitors to buy, he writes blogs about how to be healthy with “bananas”; how “bananas” can affect a longer life; how to be happier and skinnier by eating “bananas” every day!

Blogging is content marketing, but it is only a part of inbound marketing not all of it.

In the corner of every single blog article, he places a sign: “Banana $1 / lb, buy one get one free.”

However, there aren’t so many visitors to his new website. So he searches and finds some others [related] sites such as foods.com or everydayhealth.org. He subscribes to their mailing lists and reads almost all of their new blog articles carefully.

His knowledge gets better and better as do his own blog articles. His website gets better and better too.

Sometimes he leaves comments on different sites about the article and writes a link to his own website.

“Pete Cashmore of Mashable left a hundred or more comments on other blogs every day.” That was his strategy when he first launched. (Neil Patel)

Visitors start to come to Jack’s website using related keywords such as “live longer”, “the benefits of banana”, or “mr rogers banana and cheese.”

Link building and SEO is a part of inbound marketing. It may attract visitors but not search engines. SEO is dead!

Email marketing, a tool for following up

To encourage his visitors to return to the website more frequently, he adds a short subscription form. Since Jack is now a respected authority on banana mythology, people join his mailing list to get the latest news. After publishing any new article, Jack sends an email blast to his opt-in mailing list and increases his site’s visitors. Finally some visitors begin purchasing bananas from off of his website.

Email marketing to opted-in subscribers is a critical part of inbound marketing.

Guest blogging, a way to touch wider audiences

Jack writes some excellent articles about the benefits of bananas and publishes them as a guest author on some mommy blogger websites. In his guest articles he mentions his mailing list and how subscribers will get new ideas about the usages and benefits of bananas. Suddenly the mailing list size doubles from the new wave of mothers who read his article.

Guest blogging is a well-known approach to increasing website ranking and also to expand your community. But it should be picked and implemented wisely.

Be an authority, be an expert

Jack joins some seminars and conferences and talks about his experience and blogging and how he loves bananas. He even mentions that he eats three bananas with his meals everyday. As a speaker, he shares testimonials from happy customers who have added banana to their everyday life.

Becoming an authority is the main goal of inbound marketing. Make more noise! Even if they don’t love you, they’ll listen to you!

Social media marketing to stay in touch

In social media, Jack creates accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. First he starts to follow others who are related to his prospects, competitors and authorities. On average, 20% follow him back within 3 days. He also promotes his new blog articles on all his social media accounts many times. Early morning, around lunchtime and after work time are the best period for tweets while weekends were good to promote on Facebook and LinkedIn. (Maybe people had more time to read blogs on weekends). Within two months he got his first 1000 followers.

Social media marketing is a part of inbound marketing when you promote information and are not simply selling the product.

He also finds many new friends in his social media accounts who chat and tweet about BANANAS!

Fishing? You need a hook!

Jack figures out that visitors who want to use banana in their diet are more likely potential customers but not all of them are at the purchase stage. They already like bananas; they already know about the benefits of bananas; but they don’t want to buy from Jack right now.


Maybe they need to make sure that Jack is a banana expert or maybe they just want to buy a banana next week but not now.

Then he writes a file (lets call it an ebook) about “Tips and tricks for cooking with bananas!” He offers it as a free download in exchange for email addresses.

As soon as a new lead opts in and downloaded his ebook, Jack sends them more recipes about bananas. As well, he sends some weekly / monthly promotions to his email followers.

To implement inbound marketing, you need a valuable offer for your prospects. Then send some follow-up emails with info not found on your blog.

Lead nurturing

Jack creates two, three even tens of ebooks. Each for a different persona of prospect. Each placed on the website. Different automated emails for different personae increased the prospects engagement with Jack’s website.

Lead nurturing is essential to inbound marketing.


Not yet!

Be creative!

Jack records some “how to” videos, interviews some famous people and uploads them to YouTube and also his blog. He pays a designer to create a funny infographic about life and bananas. Even the national newspaper mentions him in a Monday morning article and promoters interview him as an entrepreneur. (I didn’t say how Jack solicited to get these attentions.)

Inbound marketing is not just plain blogging. Visual marketing mostly works better. Be creative, in any way.

Now, on average: 25% of his website’s visitors are purchasing bananas; almost 50% are potential leads (who will hopefully download ebooks); and the of rest which came to the website by mistake and left quickly (50% bounce rate!)

Begin again

Jack tests the colour and text of signs on blogs (for example: $0.99 / lb instead of $1/lb.) He tests emails and web pages (landing pages) in order to increase the rate of converting visitors to sales. He measures the most read and shared articles.

Pay per Click (PPC) ads

He even pays for Google Adwords, tries Facebook PPC and LinkedIn ads to “promote his ebooks”.

Although PPC is considered outbound marketing, it only counts if you are selling your product/ service. PPC is a good way to buy attention for inbound marketing when you promote your free ebooks on your ads. People love free stuff! Help them, don’t sell. Even on PPC.


Although Jack has done all these things, this is still no guarantee for success!

Who said inbound marketing was the best approach to sell bananas? There is no right and wrong answer.

There are some banana farmers who are creating and managing meetup and events for other banana farmers instead of prospects. There are some banana bloggers who just do blogging without any ebook, some PPC ads without caring about leads and their knowledge and some digital marketers who do networking instead of marketing; and some of them are successful.

Even Internet marketing experts don’t have a strong, single definition for inbound marketing.

In addition, keep in mind that for Business to Business (B2B) companies, a prospect might never even contact you to get a quote. You need to call them and follow up.

How would you sell a banana?

How would you describe inbound marketing?

What do you think about banana inbound marketing!?

Read more: