Inbound marketing is all the rage right now. It’s hard to talk marketing or business growth without the term coming up. But what is it? Is it new? Is it possible for small or medium sized businesses to do it? How hard is it? Is it affordable? Moreover, will you ever understand it?

No. Yes. Depends. Yes. Soon.

Inbound marketing is basically the creation of content like blogs, social media posts, branding videos, email newsletters, landing pages and white papers. It should also include search engine optimization (SEO). That’s a whole other article. Content is essentially any form of media created to communicate a company’s value to potential customers. This type of content is also passive in nature compared to traditional forms of advertising, meaning the content is being published strategically and designed to attract attention, but the customer has a choice in how and when they consume the content, if at all.

With the rise of digital platforms like the internet and all that goes with it, companies have more outlets than ever to put out information about themselves and their products. Many of those outlets are free and present an opportunity to reach millions of potential customers. With that in mind, a strategy can be formulated to create and publish content that attracts either the eyeballs of potential customers or provides value to existing customers, the goal being that when the customer makes themselves known through the consumption of the content, the company will then attempt to convert that lead into a sale.

This process utilizes content to attract the potential customer, impress them (ideally), identify them to the company, convert them to a paying customer, and provide added value after purchase in the form of offers, tips, tricks, and other options. This process is not new, despite what various inbound marketing companies will tell you.

Creating content for customers to consume is a fundamental part of marketing that has emerged in the past decade as being important. You might miss the boat, but not because there isn’t enough room. Every company can create content themselves or hire a marketing agency to create content to attract customers. Every company should do one of those options. It is essential to building a growing and prosperous business.

Ideally, content should be created to be unique to your business, but there are options our there where a software company can disperse content across the internet, but it most likely won’t be unique to your business. That’s not an ideal option but does make sense for some businesses. To create unique, relevant content, companies must figure out what their value is and use it to create content that informs the potential customer. Easier said than done, I know. Writing is hard. It’s harder when you’re a businessperson managing employees, operations, and the overall success of the company. Managing blog posts, social media, email newsletters, white papers, and the like is an incredibly large investment of time, and on top of that, you have to have the writing talent and marketing knowledge to pull it off. There are several effective ways to promote the value of a company, and even more ineffective ways to do so.

Inbound marketing can be a powerful tool for growth, but can also have the opposite effect when done sloppily or improperly. Writing knowledge is a must. Keeping the message consistent and relevant is paramount to sustained success. This type of marketing is not “fire and forget,” as they say. It requires attention, interaction, maintenance, and small but subtle tweaks if it is to be done right.

The bottom line is this: Companies must do their homework. Business is about solving a problem for the customer. If the problem is solved and the experience was pleasant enough, they will come back. But how will they know if your product solves their problem in the first place? Tell them about it.