There’s an exciting array of complexities that go into inbound marketing. Some of the basics, such as the intent for you to “attract, engage and delight” for any number of factors within your business. These factors could include marketing, sales, service, and internal enculturation functions such as staff development and consumer analysis.

Often, marketing professionals think of plans and programming around inbound marketing and campaign efforts as singular items that carry a specific message within a moment of time. With the longevity of that communication often has to deal with a silo in which it is encapsulated.


Step 1. Content Styles —

Evergreen content —

Think of this marketing as anything that you want to represent your past, present, and future. It’s not to say that it can’t also go through its own evolution. All great brands need to challenge themselves to re-invest time in their foundation. I’m certainly not advocating that you rewrite your core values are your mission statement once a year, but more often than not, the nature of the product (service or education) that we extend evolves.

Campaign content —

Just as you would think, campaign content lives within a specific window of time, creative lifecycle, or offer window. But of course, if the GEICO lizard has shown us anything, it’s that a fun idea may very well have “legs” far longer than you originally anticipated for your creative concept. These are outliers, and in most cases, for social media and content professionals, we simply need to understand that this level of messaging has a shelf life, and we need to abide by it.

Conversational content —

Falling into the “working smarter and not harder” category is conversational contact. First and foremost, this contact needs to maintain both a foundational understanding of the brand and its values but peppering in the campaign and support messaging. This can be very tricky, not to mention it a legal minefield.

Many brands don’t envision conversational content as something that is pre-scripted or following any particular guidelines. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For professionals that oversee social media, community engagement, and work inside of sales, support, or CRM environments, it should be a key for their consideration. One of the many things that they can do to streamline their lives is to put together an index of commonly asked questions and their brand responses. Naturally, I want to be able to have a modicum of customization and the humanistic approach of interaction. This is something where chatbots fall short. In many cases, AI marketing tools are essential and the future of individual support and services, but they should never supersede dynamic interaction with another individual.

Evolutionary (version controlled) content —

Often there’s a mid-level of content when you talk about your brand’s foundation with your consumer or internally with your business. The contact is evolutionary.

Let’s take, for instance, a product launch. You’re certainly not going to create ongoing contact as if said product is brand new and fresh on the shelf. Therefore, you know and intend to deliver your hype, excitement, and campaign introductions, KNOWING that your messaging will evolve into substantiating the product in consumers’ minds. An easily digestible example is the iPhone. We know and understand the product and use it daily, but Apple masterfully crafts new and engaging excitement progressively as each version comes to fruition.

We can also debate that in many cases, your business’s service and support contact will fall within this category. People don’t often think of things such as consumer paperwork, manuals, and standard SOP’s to be inclusive to the brand’s voice, but they should be so long as they don’t jeopardize the educational positioning. – discussing the types of contact, what you intend to deliver utilizing those variable pieces of media, and on what channels could take me a year’s worth of articles. We can certainly say, for the sake of budgetary safety, ‘start slow’, fundamental, and apply momentum and risk as you move the needle.

Step 2. Channels —

I won’t go into which social media channel or inbound message system is best for your needs. What I will say, however, is to envision each type of channel as a unique ring where its villagers speak their own language, at their own times, having their own rituals and lexicon.

— this leads us to our next step, which needs to work in concert with step 2.

Step 3. Audience —

I had a conversation with countless marketing professionals over my career “Wouldn’t you treat a given audience with a channel the same way?” I wish my retort is typically something to the effect of “Do you speak to an elderly woman the same way you do a teenage boy?” This immediately gets into a scrum regarding why particular demographics would be on a channel that is predominantly a different type of audience, which is an incredibly fair point. Nevertheless, siding with one particular type of engagement style for a channel, or demo, is unacceptable and will ultimately diminish your branch credibility and consumer loyalty.

A decade ago, I would do a speaking engagement to talk about the strength in numbers when it came to social media. I used to talk about the first ring, second ring, and tertiary effects of messaging. But we have come full circle, and we’re back to the humanistic approach utilizing digital channels to answer any questions to build relationships.