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    June 4, 2010 // 12:00 PM

    A Foodie's Guide to Inbound Marketing

    Written by Carol Ortenberg

    When I'm not working, my passi on is food; eating it, cooking it, reading about it and talking about it. So naturally, it's started to invade other parts of my life -- including how I think about inbound marketing. Earlier this week while we were out having a dinner, a friend asked "I don't get Inbound Marketing . What exactly is it?" While trying to think of how to explain inbound marketing to my foodie friend, I realized something: Inbound Marketing is like opening a new restaurant.

    Get Found: Creating the Menu & Packing the Tables

    Pretend you're a talented chef who is just opening your first restaurant. It comes time to develop the menu, what do you want to show off? Probably a blend of classics with your spin on them as well as some more inventive dishes. For example, at the popular restaurant Highland Kitchen , the chef has standards like burgers and roasted chicken but he also has specials like confit buffalo wings with watermelon cucumber salad and blue cheese dressing. When you create content, you want to follow the same process. You need content that builds upon keywords that you know you already rank for/want to rank higher for as well as content that is centered around keywords you'd like to rank for. This let's you show that you are knowledgeable about your industry and the "classic topics" as well as that you can create innovative content that gets people talking.

    Once you've got your menu (content) you have to optimize it. In the restaurant industry, this is done through exclusive "friends and family" dinners. At these events, a carefully cultivated group of guests gets to taste the menu for free and then provide feedback on their thoughts. For content creators it's a series of constantly examining what you are producing and the quality of it - both through your own analysis and perhaps running some past close advisors, mentors and business colleagues.

    Finally, you've got to promote yourself. A new chef often does events designed to get the word out about their menu and dishes. Beer dinners, tasting events, charity functions -- all can help spread their delicious "content" to possible diners. With content creators, you need to promote your content through social media , guest blog posts and more. Just as important and half the calories!

    Convert: How to Find Your Regulars

    The well known author and chef, Anthony Bourdain , once said that in his restaurant Friday and Saturday are for the tourists -- customers that bring in cash but probably aren't reliable sources of money. During the week, he said, is when his regulars come in and it's on these days he might send out a little amuse bouche, free treat or try a more exciting dish. He actively works on getting people to switch from a casual diner to a regular because he depends on these customers and their business.

    With inbound marketing you need to do the same thing. Figure out a way to convert the occasional traffic to your site into a lead (possibly regular) and then customer. Someone who goes from having a brief relationship with you or your product into a longer, deeper engagement with you

    Analyze: Constantly Changing

    A great restaurant never let's their menu get stagnant. They constantly iterate based on what's fresh or on something that slightly worked last week but maybe could be better. Highland Kitchen, for example, keeps iterating on the idea of buffalo chicken wings - first buffalo scallops, the next month deep fried buffalo brussels sprouts and most recently, the buffalo confit chicken legs. They clearly are analyzing what ingredients cost that week and what part of the dish is successful.

    With Inbound Marketing it's similar. If you want to be found for a specific keyword or be seen as a thought leader on a specific subject, you have to keep trying out new content strategies until you've got something successful. Then once that mystery is solved, you can iterate on how to continue down that line buy saving time, money or improving your brand.

    After all this explanation my friend seemed satisfied that he understood inbound marketing best practices a little better. So I'll leave you with "Bon Appetit" or "Happy Marketing!" whichever your next meal or inbound marketing activity might be!

    photo courtesy of: vicky.seba, flickr.com

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    Topics: Inbound Marketing

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