Today's revenue-focused marketing professionals need to be experts in what has come to be called "inbound marketing" or "seed nurturing."

Inbound marketing is the process of helping prospective customers find your company, often before they are actively looking to make a purchase, and then progressively turning that early awareness into brand preference, knowledge of your products and services, and a buyer's journey that ultimately leads to booked revenue for your business.

The Power of Inbound Marketing

The central tenets of inbound marketing are to create great and compelling content, and to use that content as bait to attract, educate, and win potential buyers' interest—or, build "awareness." By mastering techniques such as SEO and viral marketing, you'll be able to use social networks and other online promotions to get that bait in front of the buyer in a pervasive way. 

To do that well, marketers must think differently. Inbound marketing success isn't about having the best tagline or the most exciting creative materials (although good branding has its place). Marketers have to think like a publisher who is tasked with creating consistent, relevant content for every stage of the revenue cycle. When done right, this approach produces dramatically better results than traditional marketing techniques that rely on interrupting the customer.

Speaker and author David Meerman Scott puts it this way: "Prior to the Web, organizations had only two significant choices to attract attention: buy expensive advertising or get third-party ink from the media. But the Web has changed the rules."

Instead of renting buyer attention from third parties, which is exactly what interruption-based advertising does, seed nurturing allows you to create your own audience and attract your own attention. Brains are important here—not budget.

Publishing great content is critical to finding new buyers in today's economy. Content can be anything your organization creates and shares to tell its story—your website, blog, podcasts, videos, tweets, whitepapers, e-books, photos, presentations, LinkedIn advertisements, webinars, press releases, return on investment (ROI) calculators, brochures, workbooks, and so on.

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Phil Fernandez is president and chief executive officer of Marketo, a global leader in revenue performance management solutions, recently named one of "America's Most Promising Companies" by Forbes. He is also the author of REVENUE DISRUPTION: Game-Changing Sales and Marketing Strategies to Accelerate Growth.