“Inbound” Content Marketing Worked Before the Internet – And Works Even Better Today

By Kimberly McCormick, Director of Corporate Marketing

At a recent workshop presented by HubSpot, the concepts behind Inbound Marketing, and the structure of truly powerful sales in today’s internet-driven consumer world were analyzed. The powerful opening example was a “Prehistoric” (by Internet standards) sales campaign that was revolutionary when it was presented in 1965 – but illustrates the essential tenets of successful inbound content marketing today.

I have to fully disclose here that this was a proud “UO Alumna” moment for me, as this campaign was the original outbound letter campaign for the then-named company, Blue Ribbon Sports’ Tiger brand running shoes. These sales letters were sent by the present-day business icon who we from Eugene (a.k.a. Track Town, USA), Oregon fondly refer to as “Uncle Phil” – Phillip Knight, who’s Nike shoes and innovative uniforms now colorfully and powerfully outfit not only Oregon Ducks athletes, but the USA Olympics team and many more.

Nostalgia aside, this campaign and more importantly, the associated free-of-charge, non-branded pamphlet explaining proper running form that was distributed by the primordial-Nike enterprise, might well be hailed as the first true example of the inbound methodology (possibly the Australopithecus of Content Marketing?).  The campaign elements that illustrate “Inbound” included:

Nike Letter - Effective content marketing since 1965 Nike Pamphlet - early Inbound Content Marketing

Understanding your Buyer Persona – and where they are in their Buyer’s Journey:

  • Phil was directly speaking to coaches, in June, gearing up for their fall competition seasons.
  • He also knew he was communicating to serious runners, looking for ways to improve their performance.

Creating content that focuses on solutions for your persona:

  • The pamphlet was valuable, credible information that assisted runners to improve their skill.
  • They were freely given and did not contain a brand or product-specific sales pitch.

Pretty crazy stuff for 1965. However, this pamphlet is a perfect example of content tailored to the “Consideration” stage of the “Buyer’s Journey” – which is a central tenet of modern inbound marketing.  Below is a quick recap of the session that explained the need for and presented the playbook to effectively adopt “Inbound marketing” in your business.

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The need for a change in how marketing is traditionally deployed was highlighted by this disturbing finding in a recent national market study: salespeople and marketers are the least trusted professions in America, ranking below even politicians – ouch.

Why? Because of marketers’ notorious past and even current online practices –  like forcing content readers to disable ad blockers (they’re pointing at you, Forbes.com), snarky op-out selection messaging, email inbox assaults, and sloppy, inauthentic “personalization.”

The current statistic was also shared that 84% of audiences age 25 to 34 have left a favorite website due to intrusive advertising.

The central issue is all about Trust.

In today’s digital world, businesses whose marketing does not build trust are on the path to extinction.

So what is the key to building trust?  Valuable and helpful content.

This means content to address your customer’s needs in the various stages of how they go about researching, evaluating, and buying.  This also means NO brand pontification, sales pitches, or other strings attached to the content.

View content as an opportunity to get found.  This kicks off the inbound ripple effect of: getting shared, get relied upon as a credible authority, getting trusted, and ultimately getting the sale.

HubSpot shared many insightful findings of research they and other marketing industry organizations have uncovered about today’s buyer and business dynamics, as they introduced and illustrated the Inbound Marketing Campaign Playbook. One that peaked my attention was: Content marketing using the inbound method, generates 3 times more leads than traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less.

Here’s an overview of the Inbound Marketing Campaign Playbook:


Inbound Marketing PlaybookTargets

Understand your target customers and build personas for them. In a nutshell, the “Persona” is trying to get to this succinct descriptor of your target customer(s):

[Target persona] is a [job title] tasked with [this goal], but has [this challenge] standing in the way.

—with all the demographics and psychographics associated to illustrate a real personality to the “persona.”  This is where doing your homework is the prerequisite to success.


Target persona-driven content creation requires that you make content that addresses your targets’ problems, questions, and needs at the different points of the buying process they are in. (In HubSpot’s vernacular this is: “Creating content specifically for your buyer personas and for the stage they are at in the Buyer’s Journey.”).

Further, content must be relevant and compelling because…

Today’s consumers’ average attention span is 8 seconds – which is 1 second less than a goldfish… and this span has dropped 4 seconds since the year 2000.


We need to distribute our content across multiple digital channels.

Why? Campaigns integrating 4+ digital channels outperformed single or dual channel campaigns by more than 300%.

Further fun findings presented about specific digital channels include:

  • Email:
    • 59% of B2B businesses cite email as the most effective channel for generating revenue.
  • Blogs:
    • No one is “too niche to blog.”  Blog content (when properly optimized) gets found by search engines. So considering that 16 – 20% of searches on Google (the string of words the searcher is trying to find out more about) have never been searched before, there are likely plenty of potential customers searching for your niche topic online right now.
  • Social:
    • Social Media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing.
  • Online Ads:
    • 80% of marketers use at least one paid channel to supplement their inbound efforts.


Inbound enables your content to be found by potential target customers early in their research and buying process. There is a very real and effective nurturing component that connects targets to you and builds trust in your brand long before they become “Sales Ready” leads.  This is a key area where businesses that don’t use inbound miss out, and it is costing them.

Nurtured Leads produce on average a 20 % increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.


Properly optimizing your content from the target consumer’s perspective, which all ties back to those personas and their buyer’s journey stages, is the key to effective “findability” with content marketing and inbound marketing success.

When such an inbound marketing playbook is central to a business’s marketing plan, here are some of the results HubSpot has seen these businesses achieve:

  • Relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than broadcast emails.
  • Because 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, they are also more likely to buy from that company.
  • 54% more leads are generated by Inbound tactics versus traditional paid marketing.
  • Companies are 3 times as likely to see higher ROI in inbound Marketing campaigns.
  • Companies save an average of $20K per year by investing in inbound marketing vs. outbound.

Bayshore Solutions is a digital agency and a HubSpot partner.  We have a team of experts who can help put together a winning website, digital, and content marketing strategy to grow your business.  Contact us to get started improving your brand trust and results today.

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