How Inbound Marketing Can Benefit the Underpants Gnomes, and You

Jen Saunders
Reading Time: 6 minutes

For more than a decade, the talk of digital marketing has been SEO. While search engine optimization is still a vital component to any online marketing strategy, a great deal more is required to actually increase revenue. This is where the inbound methodology steps in to capture potential buyers brought in by SEO, and nurture them through a process that leads to sales and business growth. The Underpants Gnomes are ideal candidates for illustrating “those businesses” that have yet to embrace inbound marketing into their investment portfolio.

inbound marketing

What are Underpants Gnomes?

The Underpants Gnomes are all about big business in the retail space. They have a three-stage marketing model designed to bring in a huge profit. These little bearded guys have ample manpower, smart logistics, and undeniable leadership. If you watch the short clip below, you will clearly see there is a huge gaping hole in the business model; the gnomes are not using a personal approach in attracting the right buyers, at the right moment, with the right content to sell their underpants.

Google Rankbrain

Simply put, there is no stage two. This is where the Underpants Gnomes could really use inbound marketing services from a Google-partner agency capable of capturing leads and nurturing them into buyers. And if you have products or services projected to grow your business in a profitable direction but you can’t seem to reach your consumer audiences, inbound marketing is likely something that could point you in the right direction. By understanding how inbound can help the Underpants Gnomes, you may get a clear vision on how this humanized approach to marketing can take your brand from “meh” to the tune of ringing phone sales and cash register transactions.

discover your buyers

Identifying Your Buyers

You can have a killer SEO strategy, but if you aren’t ranking for the right buyers OR providing content that will convert readers into customers, your search optimization won’t matter. After all, you aren’t investing in SEO to simply rank; you also expect to increase your revenue by being found by people who see value in your products.

The Underpants Gnomes collect previously owned underpants, both dirty pairs and neatly folded clean underwear. What the gnomes should have done was create buyer personas representing their customers. In other words, who would buy previously worn underwear?

  • People who are ridiculously frugal
  • Low-income people who buy everything second-hand
  • People who ARE NOT low-income but believe in upcycling and reusing goods
  • Perverts
  • Japanese businessmen with a fetish, also perverts (there are vending machines in Tokyo that sell previously worn underwear)

In other words, buyer personas are identified as semi-realistic fictionalized representations of actual customers, and they need to be profiled according to who would find vlaue in your products and services. For example:

Persona One – “Pervy Pete” – Pervy Pete (aka Kenichi Sakamoto) is a 58 year-old executive. He lives in Tokyo with his wife and 13 year-old son. Kenichi makes 200K a year, takes the Metro to and from work, enjoys being left alone when he is home, and he secretly buys previously worn underwear from a vending machine in Kabukicho every Friday after work. He is constantly in fear that his fetish will be discovered and his honor put in question.

Persona Two – “Cheapskate Connie”  – Cheapskate Connie (aka Bonnie Myers) is a 28 year old mother of two in small town Alabama. She makes a modest yet liveable salary as a high school math teacher. Bonnie is married to a fish and game officer and together they make 80K before taxes. Bonnie is passionate about entering sweepstakes, cutting coupons, shopping at .99 cent stores and participating in class action lawsuits. Although she can afford new things, she prefers to go to thrift stores to buy dishes, furniture, books and even underpants. She is driven to save money above anything else.

These are examples of what generalized personas created by real customer data may look like. You can check your customer data and talk to your sales team to get information on who your buyers are, and then categorize them into singular representations. You could have 50 customers who fit the profile of “Pervy Pete” and 500 who fit the “Cheapskate Connie” profile.

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How the Underpants Gnomes Should Have Used Inbound Methodology Buyer Personas for their Stage Two

Had the Underpants Gnomes created profiles such as these, they would be able to better understand their customers and their needs. They would have been able to write specific content to buyers like these showing how their products are ideal solutions to each buyer’s pain. For example, “Pervy Pete” would love the discreet shipping option knowing that his risk of being publicly spotted buying used underwear will no longer be a concern. At the same time, “Cheapskate Connie” buyers will love being able to pet hand-me-down underpants at a bargain price through the mail (something Amazon doesn’t sell) thus saving her additional gas expenses by driving to the thrift stores. When you understand your buyers and can profile them, you can use the personas as maps for creating content with a purpose that extends beyond SEO.

stages of inbound marketing

Buyer Journey Content is Central to Inbound

Had the Underpants Gnomes embraced the inbound methodology and created the needed buyer personas, they would have then had to create content in consideration to the three buyer journey stages customers go through: awareness stage, consideration stage, decision stage.

Awareness Stage – Consumers are experiencing symptoms and are doing online research to define and understand their real problem or opportunity.

Consideration Stage – The buyer has given a name to their problem and is ready to research various approaches and methods to solving the problem.

Decision Stage – The person has decided on a solution to meet their need and is compiling a lift of potential vendors / products while whittling down a short list before making a decision.

Here is what the buyer’s journey may look like for a person like “Cheapskate Connie”:

Awareness Stage – Cheapskate Connie, her kids, and her husband all eat cheap fast food (especially Chipotle). Her kids are also active outdoors and they use their underpants as swim trunks instead of using actual swim wear because it saves money to make multiple uses out of the same garment. All of these lifestyle habits lend to underpants with a short lifespan. Cheapskate Connie knows her family goes through a single pair of underpants in a week.

Consideration Stage – Cheapskate Connie’s research concluded that her family’s diet of Chipotle and their continuous exposure to swimming pool chlorine causes their underpants to deteriorate after a week or two. Now she must research various ways to resolve this.

Decision Stage – Cheapskate Connie has decided not to change her family’s diet or swimming habits. Instead, she has read enough literature to help her determine she needs large supplies of affordable new underpants. She could buy new underwear from big brand departments stores, store, or buy new underpants from the .99 cent store. She could also wait for sales on underpants from the big box stores. But she has determined that the best solution to her problem is to purchase bulk underpants that have never been worn, that ship to her door, and that cost little money.

Too bad the Underpants Gnomes never used inbound marketing to capture “Cheapskate Connie” and the thousands of other buyers like her. Had they used the right content to target and nurture leads through the buyer’s journey, their stage two would be clearly defined, and their stage three profits would likely roll in.

Did the Underpants Gnomes Help You Better Understand Inbound?

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