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Before I started MarketCloud, I was a partner in the sustainability consulting group, Resolutions, LLC. I had left my long-time marketing firm, Atticus Communications, and took a leap of faith in this new venture. Businesses everywhere were looking for new ways to make money and grow their business. Sustainability was and is a great way to do that.

Companies that adopt sustainable business practices are able to find cost savings and competive advantage through environmental performance. The additional recruiting and employee benefits it brings, all contributed to the bottom-line.

My partner had the green credibility while I had the marketing skills to make the program work. Unfortunately, soon after our company started, the economy changed and looked to be heading for collapse, the likes of which we hadn’t seen since the great depression.

The end of Resolutions came with the realization that sustainability had gone from a top 5 issue for c-suite executives to not even registering. They went into survival mode. If sustainability was going to happen it was coming from marketing. So I went back to my roots and opened MarketCloud.

Funny happened on the way to a marketing firm that promoted sustainable business practices. I found inbound marketing. I found that there was a name for what I had been doing all along.

Advertising has changed dramatically in the past few years. People have become desensitized to ad campaigns. For instance, there is a greater chance that you will survive an airplane crash than click on a banner ad. We are investing in machines such as AppleTV, Roku, Tivo and DVR’s so we can fast forward past ads. It’s getting easier and easier to ignore marketing. It’s obvious that if we want to continue growing our business, we need to change how we communicate with our customers.

It was thought that social media would be the next great wave of advertising. Companies spent large sums of money to build social media campaigns and to “earn” more likes than their competitors on Facebook. In the end, most companies resposted stories from other sites or gave up completely. They realized that you can have all the likes in the world but it doesn’t matter if they don’t become customers. You can’t buy me like.

According to Bob Garfield and Doug Levy, authors of the book *Can’t Buy Me Like* we have entered the “relationship era.” In other words, the only way businesses will have long-term success is to create authentic customer relations.

In the past companies put a lot of time and energy in controlling the conversation and their image. Now anyone with internet access can find out most anything on a company before they chose to engage with that company. The good, the bad and the ugly.

The subtitle of “Can’t Buy Me Like” is “How Authentic Customer Connections Drive Superior Results.” You have to treat your customers like flesh and blood human beings and not a target to reach in your campaigns. Businesses now have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

At Resolutions we preached to our clients that sustainability was a marathon, not a sprint. You had to put the work in up front, monitor what you had done and make changes as needed.

Inbound marketing is sustainable in the same way, you do the work up front which help’s you get found You monitor what you have done and you make changes as you go along. Once you have been found you work to turn those leads into customers. Hubspot put it so well, it’s marketing with a magnet, not a sledgehammer. Best of all, it’s sustainable.

Shawn Wright
Shawn Wright is a graphic designer and podcaster living in Birmingham, Alabama. You can find his design work at shawnwright.net. You can find his podcasts, Alabama Short Stories at alabamashortstories.com and the Shades Cahaba Oral History Project podcast at shadescahabahistory.com. His designs are for sale at TeePublic.com, Redbubble.com and Society6.com.
Shawn Wright
Shawn Wright

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