Family time tends to equal a lot of catching up, especially when extended family or newcomers are thrown into the mix. Some of us like to share and some don't, but that might not make a difference to Great Aunt Gertie. At least, it might not stop her from asking about everything: our relationships, our health, and our work included.
Explaining that you do "Inbound Marketing" can be difficult because what you do doesn't make much sense unless it's clear WHY you do it. But explaining the "why" might be a little much to dive into over a holiday meal. And if it's not expressed correctly or with the right context, we could totally see how inbound could even be taken as insincere. Think about it. Analyzing personas, CTA's that ask for contact information — it could all seem a little shady to someone who doesn't realize what the customer gets out of it.
To help you navigate these conversations, we came up with a few angles that might make it easier to explain what inbound is to your grandpa, your sister's new boyfriend, or anyone else.
Compare Inbound to the "Outbound" Your Family is Familiar With
While the terms inbound marketing and outbound marketing are both foreign to non-marketers, you can be sure that the applications of outbound marketing are familiar to anyone who has seen a television, computer, newspaper, or billboard. So use those traditional outbound methods as familiar comparison points when you're describing how inbound works.
Once your family members agree that TV commercials and pop up ads on the internet can be annoying because they interrupt you, contrast that with how inbound content attracts customers only when they're actually looking for it; Inbound marketing is convenient marketing related to what someone is searching for. And if they ask why this works? Let them know that the internet has changed how buyers choose products and make decisions. It's likely that your family has seen inbound content without realizing it when they search online for solutions to their problems. Blogs with product reviews or comparisons are great examples of inbound in practice, and it's likely that examples like these will help the concept click with your loved ones. And if all that fails, break out the "magnet vs. blowhorn example" that you've likely seen all over the internet.
Need to bone up on the differences? Check out our blogpost explaining the differences between Inbound & Outbound Marketing.
Talk About the Different Types of Content You Create
"Ok, but what you do actually do during the day?" someone might ask. Your answer might vary a little depending on your actual position in the company, but most answers to this question should point back to one thing: content. There is no inbound marketing if there is no content to put in front of people when they're looking for it. While you should probably stay away from the technical details about SEO and building persona profiles, you could offer "I help make creative internet content that has to do with my company's product or service."
While inbound marketing itself is just a concept, taking this angle in your explanation brings to focus the tangible things that show the results of your effort. When your family can visualize the things you make (whether they be blog posts, videos, infographics, or a million other things), there's a better chance they can pick up on what kinds of projects inbound marketing entails. As far as explaining why you do this, all your family needs to know is that having a visible online presence helps your company stand out when your customers are making their buying decisions. By offering the customer something more than just the products you sell, you can become part of the entire process that occurs before they're ready to buy. Your content keeps you top of mind.
Explain How Inbound Helps People
If all else fails, here's the simplest way we can think of to explain what inbound is: "It's marketing that helps people." If you backtrack a little to those outbound ads you talked about earlier, you can make an example of how their goal is only to get a company's product in front of someone's eyes. When using this angle, you can explain to your family that inbound content does more. Inbound provides the answers to the questions your potential customers are asking and helps them solve their problems before ever asking them to buy. Inbound is about leveraging your expert power in a way that not only benefits your company, but that actually benefits the prospective customer first, whether they end up buying or not. This angle does a lot of work in helping inbound marketing come off as a genuine effort that favors everyone. And why? Because for so long, traditional marketing tried to sell to "customers", "prospects", "target audiences", and "businesses" but forgot they were reaching out to actual humans. Inbound inspires trust all throughout the buying process by sharing your specialized knowledge with those real people that need it.
Getting the Point of Inbound Across
The holidays are first and foremost a vacation from work, but that doesn't mean what you do for a living won't come up. If you're not sure how to explain what inbound is to your family this season (or any time), the best advice we could give is to treat your family like the people who consume your inbound content. Jargon, business buzzwords, and complex definitions are going to fly right over their heads, so leave those out. Instead, get right to the point. Keep it short and sweet, and hopefully some of the notes above will help you get back to what's important — spending time together (and probably some good food too).