Inbound Marketing Strategy

The Secret Ingredient to Online Marketing

Brad Smith
October 10, 2011

Copybloggeris an online marketing blog that teaches people how to write, sell and market online.

In 5 years, they’ve grown an audience of over 125,000 subscribers, are consistently recognized as one of the top marketing blogs on the AdAge 150 and are a multimillion dollar company.

37Signals is a software company that sells simple business software to the “Fortune 5,000,000” (small and medium sized businesses).

They have a wildly successful blog with over 128,000 subscribers where they teach people about design, building software, marketing, growing a company, hiring/firing, and more.

They are a multimillion dollar company, and Jeff Bezos from Amazon is a minority investor.

What do these these two companies have in common? Why are they so wildly successful, and loved by a passionate, devoted audience?


Cooking Green Curry
Image courtesy of lejoe


Marketing by Teaching

The secret is that they market their businesses by teaching.

Jason Fried, founder of 37Signals said this style of marketing came to him from the Food Network.

A few years ago, he had been learning how to cook.

So he went to the book store, and bought a few books about different styles of cooking. He wanted the basics like “meals in under 30 minutes”, and also a few on specific types like Italian or Mexican.

When he got home, he decided to flip through them and find something to make that night. He opened a Mario Batali cookbook and it suddenly dawned on him.

What he noticed was that all of the cookbooks he bought were from someone who taught him something.

He had been watching these cooks for some time and had developed trust through their advice and guidance.

When he got the bookstore, their products cut through the clutter. He didn’t even look at the thousands of other options.

These people are thought leaders. They’ve demonstrated their expertise by showing what they know.

They have a reputation, one of the most valuable marketing assets anyone can develop.

Jason had familiarity with these people, so he felt good enough to purchase their products immediately. Their teaching developed goodwill and he showed reciprocity because he was grateful.


What About You?

How are you teaching your customers?

Are you creating content that solves their problems? Are you demonstrating your expertise?

And don’t worry about sharing too much. Professionals are usually scared that if they give away too much information, their competition will steal it or their customers won’t need them.

Mario Batali will show you how he cooks. He’ll detail his recipes and show you every ingredient. No competitor is going to copy everything and open a restaurant next door.

And chances are, you’re not going to skip the chance to dine at one of his amazing restaurants because you’d rather cook it at home.

You can demystify the process, and people will still want or need someone to do it for them.

But they won’t know how good you are until you show them.

6 thoughts on “The Secret Ingredient to Online Marketing

  1. Great post Brad!

    Blogs are excellent teaching tools and is the primary function of my blog. Blogs that exist for shameless self promotion alone, rarely last or become very popular at all. A teaching blog is the VALUE you can offer your audience and/or your potential clients. The added benefit of this medium is the content creation and additional keyword opportunities!

    Thanks for sharing this information Brad!

  2. Great post Brad!

    Blogs are excellent teaching tools and is the primary function of my blog. Blogs that exist for shameless self promotion alone, rarely last or become very popular at all. A teaching blog is the VALUE you can offer your audience and/or your potential clients. The added benefit of this medium is the content creation and additional keyword opportunities!

    Thanks for sharing this information Brad!

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