Why You Should Read “Inbound Marketing”

Inbound Marketing - Halligan and ShahInbound Marketing is the kind of book  I wish I’d had when I was first starting out in the online world.  When you’re new and there’s so much to learn, you hunger for a book that gives you the full picture — start to finish.  ‘Just tell me what to do,’ you think.  Inbound Marketing is a book that, yes, tells you what to do to market your business online.

I had the chance to review the book in manuscript form before it was published — and I couldn’t wait for it to come out.  (I even gave a testimonial for the book.) Let me tell you why.

What does “Inbound Marketing” mean?

The first thing you will want to know is what the term “inbound marketing” refers to.  As used in the book, it stands for doing what it takes for prospects, customers and the public to find YOU online.   It’s about attracting people to your website using Google / search engines, blogs and social media sites.  Getting found online is not passive.  You can’t just “build it and they will come.”  It’s never that easy (trust me, I know!).  Inbound marketing is about the foundational steps you need to put in place so that your business WILL get found online, and more importantly, Web visitors will convert to customers.

The authors contrast that term with “outbound marketing.”  Outbound marketing is the term the authors use to describe traditional methods of  marketing such as TV ads, telemarketing, trade shows and email blasts.  The authors’ contention is that we have undergone a sea-change in the past 10 years.  They say these traditional forms of marketing no longer work, especially for small businesses that lack big budgets.

Who are The Authors — and Why Should We Trust Them?

Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah are the co-founders of HubSpot.  If you’ve never heard of HubSpot, this is one company you will want to check out.  HubSpot offers a variety of free online Grader tools you can use to analyze and guide your online marketing.  They also offer marketing software, including a content management platform and lead follow-up system.

What I Liked About “Inbound Marketing”

These days there is so much to know that I just want everything laid out for me.  I am like a heat-seeking missile.  I head straight for books that I can put to practical use immediately.  Here’s what you will get with this book:

  • A Big Picture View, with Tactics so You Can Do it Yourself — The book is not just about search engines and  SEO (although it does cover search engines).  It is not just about blogging (although it devotes considerable attention to blogging).  It’s not just about social media (although it covers that in some detail).  It gives you the big picture of customer motivation and how it all fits together — so you understand why you should do certain activities.  Then it backs it up with what steps you need to take.
  • To Do Lists — At the end of each chapter is a “To Do” list. The lists are convenient outlines of next steps.
  • Easy Way to Create an Online Marketing Plan — Even if you have an intermediate or advanced level of knowledge, you could literally take the “To Do” lists at the end of each chapter and use them to create your  online marketing plan.  Why reinvent the wheel?  (This is how I am using the book.)
  • Training Manual for New Employees — You can also use this book as a training manual for new employees.  We all know how hard it is to train new people, or “encourage” existing employees to learn new skills. Most of us in small businesses don’t have the luxury of in-house trainers.  I suggest this book would be a good tool to bring your team along the learning curve.
  • Excellent Section on Converting Web Visitors to Customers — The book has several chapters with straight-up advice and concrete examples (including screenshots) of how to turn online visitors into customers.  These chapters alone are worth the price of the book.
  • An Interesting Memorable Read — Written in understandable language, it even has cartoons drawn by the authors sprinkled throughout the book.  Here’s one of them, which appears on page 108 of the book in the section describing do’s and don’ts of using the social media site Twitter — I got a real chuckle out of this one and more importantly, it makes the tips in the book stand out in my mind:

Twitter bot cartoon - inbound marketing

Who This Book is For

This book is best suited for:

  • startup entrepreneurs and small business people who plan to roll up their sleeves and do what it takes to attract customers online
  • traditional marketers who need a crash course in 21st century online marketing
  • experienced online marketers looking for a refresher and new tips

The book is geared toward those with beginner and intermediate levels of knowledge about online marketing.

Should You Buy the Book?

Yes.  Get this book.  You’ll get a roadmap of what to do.  No matter what kind of business you have — even if it’s a restaurant serving people in your local neighborhood — the public is increasingly going online. On the Web they are looking for products and services to buy;  reading reviews and recommendations of other people; and becoming part of online communities that increase their loyalty to the businesses that create such communities.   Inbound Marketing will help you put it all together.

More in: 12 Comments ▼

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

12 Reactions
  1. I’m reading this book now and wonder why the authors feel they need to pan newspapers and encourage people to cancel their subscriptions? We can “Get Found “and still pick up a dead tree every now and then, can’t we? Twice in one chapter Get Found in the Blogsphere Halligan and Shah instruct readers to cancel your subscription to you daily newspaper. As a newspaper reporter I find this scary and threatening.

  2. Ooh! Gotta check this out. And with cartoons no less!!!

  3. Mark,

    Have you created a Twitter cartoon yet?! 😉

    Anita: Sounds like an interesting book. I have to add it to my reading list for the future.

  4. Hi Media Watcher,

    Regardless of whether you cancel your newspaper subscription, there’s a ton of value in this book.

    Anyway, I still have my local newspaper subscription and have no plans of canceling it. I prefer to read it in paper form, even though my newspaper has a pretty good website. Yet I’m still a big fan of the book.

    You don’t have to agree with every single point in the book to get value from it.

    – Anita

  5. The concept of “inbound marketing” isn’t going away. HubSpot just got a 3rd round of funding, bringing their total to over $32 million, so even VCs are bullish on the industry.

  6. This sounds like a really good read. I’m always eager to learn new marketing tactics since they seem to change with the seasons.

  7. I saw now that John Jantsch interviewed Brian Halligan on October 23. I have downloaded the podcast and will listen to it this evening.


  8. Inbound Marketing sounds like an excellent book for anyone looking to build their knowledge in online marketing. It sounds like an easy read and a great way to understand some difficult information. I’m going to have to take a look at this one!

  9. MediaWatcher:

    That’s one of the points that the two authors don’t quite agree on (it’s controversial).

    For the record, I’m on your side on this one. I don’t plan to cancel my newspaper subscription (The Boston Globe) anytime soon.

    Hope you won’t hold that particularly controversial point against the rest of the book.


  10. Finally, someone who explains what inbound marketing IS.

    I keep running into websites about inbound marketing — they assume you already know what they’re talking about.

  11. Carleen,

    In reply to your comment about what inbound marketing is;

    Inbound marketing centres on content strategy, social media participation and search engine optimisation.

    It’s about developing a strategy to get your site found by more people, for them to engage with your content, to build a relationship with you, to convert more traffic into leads and sales.

    Its the opposite of direct marketing where you interrupt your target such as a cod call or an email blast.

    Does that help?


    Mark Wheatley

  12. Very interesting reading “History.”
    Almost 5 years on, look at HUBSPOT now.