Mostly it's used in terms of digital strategies and tactics, such as your law firm's landing page.
But, you should also include in it those non-digital devices which pull in prospects. You give a speech on estate planning at the retirement community in Oro Valley, Arizona. That's inbound marketing. You volunteer in your buddy's political campaign. That's inbound marketing. You publish a brisk-seller on what's right with mandatory arbitration. That's inbound marketing.
In short, inbound marketing is simply an umbrella term for the process of casting spells on prospects versus going out there and directly hawking your services.
But, not all inbound marketing will work the magic.
The most common mistake law firms make is configuring the material to be about them. That could be a laundry list of credentials without any strategic thought given to what potential clients need.
Here a little data mining might come into play. Find out what prospects for your IP practice need and then integrate that material into every bit of your inbound marketing. Use the identical concepts, language, and examples. That reinforces the message: We're the firm you need in that bet-the-ranch patent lawsuit.
The next big mistake is not testing out what you have created. What the metrics tell you should over-ride what you consider your golden-gut instincts.
Based on what you keep finding out, you continue fine-tuning or overhauling your inbound material. All of it is a work-in-progress.
That brings us to the third common mistake. That's investing big bucks in the first attempt. Consider your website, including the all-important landing page, and your book on arbitration a mere draft. You will probably do better the next time and the time after. Remember that everything changes: The world, the client, the competition, and maybe even the law.
The fourth common mistake is being inept in closing. The prospect may come in for a complimentary consultation. But you may not get the business. Closing is both an art and a science.
For example, the most successful professional sales representatives use what is known as a "trial close." That forces out the prospects' objections so that they can be addressed.
Another tactic is the blunt question: What would it take for you to work with our firm? For many prospects that creates their moment of truth. They become aware of their own anxiety about making a decision.
Unfortunately, closing is not intuitive. I had to enroll in a Dale Carnegie Systems seminar to up my close rate. For me the group process was useful. Your law firm might prefer a Dale Carnegie coach, such as Michael Francoeur (email@example.com), to custom-make the tutorial.
To learn more about Internet Marketing in general, an excellent free source is Web Marketing Today. The editor is my digital mentor, Paul Chaney. The current issue of WMT provides 11 free social media guides. I just downloaded an 82-page book, for free. Here you can click for access to those free goodies.