If only life followed the plot of Back to the Future Part II. If only we could throw on a puffer vest and hop in the DeLorean with Dr. Emmett Brown to behold (and tamper with) the future.

There are just a few problems with that:

  1. Marty and Doc landed in the year 2015. Next year. Not exactly groundbreaking anymore.
  2. Marty had to pose as his own son to prevent him from being thrown into prison. Depressing and time consuming.
  3. Where is my personal hoverboard? Why am I still walking everywhere when I could float?

Even though Marty’s voyage into the 21st century leaves me grossly depressed with current state of technology (pfft – iPads, Google Glass… yawn), there’s an inbound marketing lesson in here somewhere…

Marty’s future was wracked with complications – shady business practices, family problems, Biff ruining everything – teaching its 1980s audience that you can’t change the past, but you can certainly prepare for the future.

In inbound marketing, you must anticipate what your customers and potential buyers want and deliver the information before they even ask for it. This brings people to your website through their own organic searches and keeps them coming back as you update your content, whether it be blog posts, eBooks, or infographics.

Of course, we can’t go back (to 1985 or even 1955) and alter marketing efforts of yore. Direct mail, cold calling, and many outbound marketing efforts are outdated. However, they served their purpose and brought us to today’s digital marketing world where, more than anything, inbound efforts keep you ahead of the competition.

Even a slight glimpse into the future provides enough motivation and focus to increase your company’s lead generation.

Before you can begin a successful inbound marketing campaign, you must establish a detailed marketing strategy. Yes, personas are a great way to start, but dig deeper. Consider the search terms and questions that bring people to your site, build out an editorial calendar, and vary the types of content you produce.

Take a long, hard look at your current marketing strategy. Where is most of your money going? How’s your ROI looking right now? If you’re still investing in outbound practices, it’s time to change the course of your future. Like Marty, you too can burn the metaphorical “Gray Sports Almanac” and undo the damage your investments are causing.

Inbound marketing is the future. Produce high quality, educational content for your customers and potential buyers, establish yourself as an expert in your field, know what your industry buyers need before they even do, and remember the immortal words of Doc, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”