Hint: His name is Steve Jobs.
Inbound marketing is evolving so quickly that it's difficult (not to mention presumptuous) to try and name a clearly preeminent industry leader. It's impossible to point at a single marketer and say, "that's the Steve Jobs of inbound."
Why bother? Especially considering Steve Jobs himself was a master of inbound marketing before the term was even coined.
Three Decades Ahead Of The Curve
"Inbound marketing" catches some undeserved flak for being a buzzword. "That's just the latest name for SEO or content marketing or online marketing in general," detractors say. This is an unfair judgment because there's really nothing new about inbound marketing.
Steve Jobs used core inbound principles throughout his career at Apple, and in the process built it into the most distinctive brand in technology. The reason "inbound marketing" is a hot term today is simply because savvy marketers are trying to focus on results.
Jobs Lesson #1: Quality
It's a little harder to see these days, but the technological superiority of Apple products used to be a very real thing. In the early days of the company, Jobs insisted on delivering the finest computers on the market.
Inbound marketers would do well to follow the same path wherever possible. Every sort of marketing is easier when the product being marketed represents a genuine value; in the world of inbound marketing it's positively vital.
Jobs Lesson #2: Consistency
The Apple and Macintosh brands have always been about simplicity. This is not an accident; Jobs pushed for this principle with an intensity his coworkers and subordinates often found infuriating. It paid off in a big way, though.
Jobs recognized that simplicity was a path to distinction in the crowded computer marketplace; that's why he pursued it so relentlessly. A good inbound marketing plan should have core values that inform every aspect of the marketers' work.
Jobs Lesson #3: Community
Inbound marketing is all about a two-way interaction with the audience and the cultivation of a strong community. This is where Steve Jobs' example is most impressive: He created a passionate and dedicated community of loyal customers literally out of whole cloth.
Few modern inbound marketers have such a steep hill to climb, but they have to recognize the importance of the effort. A strong community around your product or service encourages repeat business and dramatically increases the reach of every marketing effort through the efforts of brand advocates.
Jobs Lesson #4: Branding Highlighting Unique Features
Jobs' pitch-perfect product launches made are extremely popular and very effective. However, the success of these launches was not always related to a new invention. Rather, Jobs and Apple were highly skilled at improving existing technology — like the MP3 player for example — and then showcasing why their modifications were so much better than the existing technology.
Good inbound marketers identify the factors that set both their product and their marketing apart from their competitors. Emphasizing these distinctions is the best way to build a recognizable brand and attract a loyal community. On landing pages for example, clearly highlighting the benefits of an offer is critical to converting prospects into leads.
When marketers follow Steve Jobs' example and commit to his principles, they're not guaranteed success. What this marketing strategy guarantees is hard work. When that work is done well, though, the results are astonishing!