The world of marketing has changed. Today, most of us have TV’s connected to a DVR so we can easily skip the commercials. When we are in the car listening to the radio, we change channels when an ad comes on. We no longer read newspapers and we throw away junk mail without opening it. We even delete messages that come to our email inbox. All of this marketing has one thing in common – it is what I call outbound marketing, and we pay little to no attention to it.

Rather than using outgoing messages, today’s successful marketing has an array of techniques for inbound marketing – where customers actually seek you out. Inbound marketing refers to those marketing methods that help consumers find your company based on their interest. Unfortunately, most people think the way to accomplish this is through search engines. But as I’ve discussed in the past, search engine rankings are the result of doing other marketing methods well, which then results in higher search engine placement. You don’t get higher search results first and therefore become popular – you must first become popular in order to get higher search placement.

Inbound marketing consists of methods such as blogs, podcasts, videos, photos, presentations, articles, ebooks, social media presence, and news releases. Basically, the more content there is about you, the great the chance of getting found. Companies need to have an ongoing content development strategy. Each of the methods mentions gives you an opportunity to create content that your customers may find important. In turn, they may “tweet you”, “digg you”, or otherwise create a link to your content, which in turn provides links to your website. Companies who blog or otherwise create ongoing content tend to get more visitors. This creates a snowballing effect – more content and more links makes you more popular. The more popular you become, the more sales you make, and the higher your page appears in the search results.

This is the reason why web professionals will tell you that content is more important than design. Graphically pleasing websites are nice, but they don’t bring more visitors. Only content and others linking to that content will do that for you. Customers today have a choice and most will not listen to your message. You must get them to come to you by using inbound marketing.