Where my wife is from in Connecticut there is an unwritten code of ethics on the road.
It goes like this:
If you see a cop positioned on the side of the road, preparing to catch speeding cars, you have the responsibility of warning everyone. For the next couple miles you flash your brights twice in quick succession at each oncoming car headed towards the cop.
This is how you tell cars to slow down because a cop is waiting to ruin your day.
When my wife explained to me why people were flashing their brights in my direction I felt appreciation for the intel. And I slowed down accordingly.
It wasn’t until I got into the act myself that I felt the full beauty of this secret language. My first time flashing the brights twice to warn the innocent oncoming cars I noticed that they flashed their brights once right back at me. Like a car-ish tip of the cap.
I find this exchange to be deeply satisfying. And now I look forward to seeing speed traps so I can jump into action. I’ve talked to other locals about it and even the people who’ve done it their whole lives adore it. It is an unequivocally delicious exchange.
But why is it so delicious and how can this help my marketing?
There is the unbridled joy of ‘beating the system.’ Obviously not getting pulled over is way better than getting pulled over. But I don’t think that’s why we like this exchange so much.
What I observed after my first time on the Paul Revere side of the table was an instant transformation of the cars on the road. All of sudden I felt connected to the other cars. The anonymity was gone. The cars became other people trying to get somewhere in their day. All of us just trying to live our lives. Together.
The true beauty of the exchange is the satisfaction of sharing really useful information and then the connection that follows.
Nowhere in the world is there more anonymity than the internet. Advertising is a particularly inhuman process. You blast out the same ad to huge numbers of people with very little regard for who they are or what they need. That’s outbound marketing.
The flashing of the brights is an example of sharing the right information, to the right people, at the right time. That’s inbound marketing.
Create useful content. Find the people who really need it. And then give it to them at the right time.
The service or the product that your business provides is a solution to a problem that many people have.
If you create thoughtful, empathetic content that helps people navigate the problem (and you don’t just bang people over the head with your value props) you will foster a connection with them. They will enjoy the sensation of the connection and they will pay it forward. Just like the flashing of the brights.
They will share your content with other people who are wrestling with the same problem. Awareness of your service will grow amongst the right people.
If you found any part of this story of ticket dodging and inbound marketing to be particularly perplexing or particularly interesting please do not hesitate to reach out. We are shameless marketing nerds and we like to help companies solve marketing problems. (We can also probably recommend a tasty kombucha or explain what walking meditation is.)