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What 4 Guys in a Basement Can Teach You About Inbound Marketing

If you’re involved with inbound marketing in even the slightest sense, you’ve probably heard that content is king. In fact, that phrase has been used so often that it’s become something of a cliché. You may also be familiarGiant Bomb logo What 4 Guys in a Basement Can Teach You About Inbound Marketing with the fact that successful inbound efforts require a reasonably transparent relationship between the customer and business. These principles are great in theory, but the challenge has always implementing them into your business model.

Fortunately, there’s a lot to learn from Giant Bomb, a website about video games that originally started with 4 guys in a basement.

Exploding onto the Scene

Giant Bomb started in 2008 with a cozy Sausalito basement office and the goal of providing humorous and editorialized coverage of the video game industry. Jeff Gerstmann, co-founder, immediately recognized that a team of four was never going to have the capacity of covering the entire industry. As a result, GB focused on building a video game wiki, staff personalities, and creating highly targeted video content that other game sites were unable to offer.

Fast forward to 2014. Giant Bomb is a thought leader in the game industry, their podcast always appears on iTunes’ Top 10 charts, they’ve been voted by Time as one of the 50 best websites, and they’ve even been acquired by CBS Interactive. Not bad! Let’s take a look at GB’s rise to prominence and discover how you could apply their methods to your business.

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Giant Bomb in their 2nd office (2010) with a new recruit. It was a bigger basement.

Content is King

Giant Bomb’s main focus is video content which features the staff playing and commentating on select games. Their small team usually produces a minimum of 4 hours worth of video per week, and that number has been known to go into double digits. Editorials and news items are frequently posted as well. Furthermore, the site outputs a new episode of their podcast, the Giant Bombcast, every single week. The recurring Bombcast has been Giant Bomb’s most popular piece of content thus far, and it’s become a 3+ hour long show in recent times.

The lesson here is to determine what you’re company is capable of, and to leverage that ability. For example, if you’re camping in the tropics, don’t bring a fur coat. Content gives your visitors a reason to come back to your site and engage with your brand, but the way you deliver it can and should be varied. Giant Bomb recognized that their potential competitors weren’t investing heavily in video, so they swooped in and filled the void.

How you deliver your content will depend on your resources, assets, and the industry your company is in. If you’re completely out of ideas, consult our creativity tips or take a look at your competitors. Find out what works for them and what departments they’re lacking in, and use that knowledge to your advantage. And though it may sound like common sense, ensure that the quality of your content is as high as it can be. Perfect content delivery methods are useless if the content has no value and gets ignored.

Long-Term Relationships

Giant Bomb creates quality content, but the impact of it is increased by several magnitudes thanks to the relationship that the brand shares with its following. From the very first post, Giant Bomb staff made sure to incorporate their personalities into all aspects of the site. Every piece of content is at least lightly opinionated in order to a) communicate staff personalities to the visitor and b) humanize the entire site and its messaging.

Regardless of the product or service that your company offers, it must create a connection with customers and prospects. If people understand where you’re coming from and why, they’re more likely to take you seriously. Think of it this way: would you listen to your best friend’s recommendation or one from a stranger in a trench coat.

If your messaging is super boring, it won’t get noticed. There are billions of active webpages in existence, so adding a human angle to your company will go a long way. For example, one of the segments on the Giant Bombcast is completely unrelated to video games and puts the spotlight on the daily lives of the staff. You can apply this core concept to your business in a different way (e.g. a series of corporate culture videos or social media posts). The possibilities are nearly endless, and as aforementioned, check out our guide to getting creative.

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Fans of Giant Bomb often draw the site’s inside jokes and generate silly discussions.

Transparency

Giant Bomb is very open with their audience (within reason of course). For instance, they once floated the idea of splitting the Bombcast into two halves for their unpaid subscribers and explained the business rationale behind it. As expected, the vast majority of users strongly opposed the idea, so it never went through. However, the point here is that Giant Bomb was able to have an open dialogue about its business to its users, and it had no negative long term effects.

It’s usually extremely risky to engage so directly with customers, but this approach worked with GB because their business model is to do business directly with their customers. Your company shouldn’t necessarily follow this example, but it can be adapted to suit your needs. For instance, you can use social media or customer service channels to let people know what you’re business is up to.

Recall that your content will have more of an impact if a relationship exists between your business and its customers. This impact will be further enhanced if the relationship is genuine, but beware, it’s very easy for a prospect to recognize insincerity.

Summary

If you have the content, you can create the transparent relationship. The entire point of all of this is to create marketing that people will love so that your company can increase its ROI. Inbound marketing isn’t about trickery and intrusion, and it’s a dialogue with the customer. Inbound methodologies are extremely flexible and can be applied to just about any industry. 4 guys in a basement figured it out, and you can too.

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About the Author

Goran is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Powered by Search. He's a driven digital marketer with a passion for inbound marketing. He's always expanding his skill-set and looking to learn something new. You can connect with Goran on Twitter and Google+.