I’ll admit I was never a huge fan of Earth Day. I always thought of it as a holiday for hippies. It was an excuse for people to go to the park, throw Frisbees, play hacky sack, and join a drum circle. Or whatever it is that hippies do with their time. And then, I learned about bees. It changed my outlook. When it comes to inbound marketing, we could learn a few things from the hippies, the bees, and the sustainability movement.
Let me explain. It’ll make sense soon enough.
You may not realize this, but we need bees. In 2010, a study at Cornell University estimated honeybees provide $14 to $15 billion annually to American agriculture. Honeybees pollinate 80 percent of all flowering crops, which allows those crops to flourish — that accounts for one-third of everything we eat. However, bees are diminishing at a rate of approximately 30 percent each year. Researchers speculate the use of pesticides and toxins are compromising the bees’ immune system. Pesticides may be convenient for farmers as a way to deal with other weeds and other pests, but it will ultimately destroy their very livelihood.
In the same way, some organizations treat the Internet like an easy fix to their marketing system, and it’s slowly destroying their business.
1) Simple fixes may have short-term success, but long-term consequences
Farmers who use pesticides have benefited from them. There’s no denying it. It’s easier and cheaper to spray the entire field to deal with weeds and harmful bugs. Likewise, companies that simply create a website and repost their print content may have experienced some initial benefits. However, there’s a diminishing return to this approach. Prospects and customers don't want your paper brochures anymore. But that doesn't mean they just want your brochure content online, either. If your organization isn’t sensitive to how people access content, you will begin to lose your clients year after year.
2) Diversity/rotation is essential for healthy crops… and content
Farmers rely on pesticides, because they often plant just one crop over and over again. If you kill anything that’s “not corn,” it’s then easier to harvest. However, the soil benefits from a diversity of plant life. In the same way, you can’t expect to grow your audience if you’re spouting the same message over and over again. Your prospects want to hear new ideas and explore new media in delivering your content. Have you tried an infographic? Have you posted a video? Have you interviewed other people within your organization besides senior management? Diversity is good for crops and for corporations.
3) Quality crops/content may require more work and less land
When a single farmer is expected to tend hundreds upon hundreds of acres, they depend on the “spray it all” approach. To move away from pesticides, they may need to work less land and be more intentional about their work. Some organizations have the same “spray it all” system. They spam and link bomb their audience, hoping to cover as much ground as possible. It sounds good. But a more focused, strategic approach is preferable. You want people to access your content, and the content should lead them down a path to action.
4) Importing bees isn’t a solution
To combat the dwindling bee population, many farmers are importing bees to pollinate their crops. Not a terrible idea, but bees work better when they are familiar with the land. Content providers also do their best work when they are familiar with your product or service. You want to work with an inbound marketing team who understands the complexity of your business, and you want to work closely with them to create an inbound program suited to your needs.
5) Think of the entire ecosystem
The pressure to mass produce has forced farmers into an uncomfortable situation. Many of our ecological problems could be alleviated if we took a moment to consider the nuanced consequences of our actions. Effective inbound marketing is the same way. How does our public relations build awareness? How does the content engage our audience? How does this lead generation and nurturing program create results? Instead of throwing the old paper-based content onto a website, an organization should consider if the content actually does anything useful for them.
Inbound marketing is sustainable marketing. It’s about being strategic and sensitive to how the delicate ecosystem operates. If you approach it correctly, willing to put in the work, the results will build over time.
Happy Earth Day everyone! It’s not just for hippies anymore. I hope you take a moment today to think about the bees and of a more sustainable way to approach your marketing.