5 Unconventional Inbound Marketing Tactics that Work
An Interview With Authority Magazine
In a world brimming with conventional marketing tactics that often blur into a monotonous landscape, standing out demands bold, innovative, and sometimes, unconventional approaches. In the dynamic landscape of inbound marketing, the unconventional becomes the beacon of uniqueness, catching the discerning eyes of consumers and clients alike. It encourages brands to rethink strategies, delve deeper into the psychology of consumers, and craft experiences that are not just transactional but transformational. In this series, we are talking to inbound marketing maestros, brand gurus, influencers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and all those who dare to think differently in the marketing sphere to share their stories, insights, and experiences with unconventional inbound marketing tactics. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Maurice Harary.
Maurice Harary is the co-founder and CEO of The Bid Lab, a consulting company dedicated to helping small and medium-sized businesses find, manage, and build their RFPs and proposals. His experience building a company that started with just $1,500 into a company that has grown tremendously is a great way to help with stories and pitches outside of just procurement and the RFP process. Furthermore, he has helped countless small and medium-sized businesses win their first multi-million-dollar deals, and helping smaller businesses drives The Bid Lab’s mission!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your personal backstory with us?
As a middle child in a family of six children, I draw parallels between my upbringing and my love of the bidding process: both require being an expert navigator of complex situations and contrasting personalities. I attribute this ability to the experiences I had growing up. Born and raised in New York City, I attended New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business and graduated with a degree in Business and Political Economy. I knew, however, that I wanted to see, learn, and experience more than what one city had to offer. So, I committed to spending semesters in both London and Shanghai. Living in foreign cities taught me about the intertwining nature of business, politics, economics, and culture, which has been invaluable in my career thus far.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Did you know that the vast majority of married couples choose not to work together? My wife and I are the exception. Jordan is my partner in every sense of the word. Back in 2017, she was climbing the ladder in the automotive industry while I was working at IHS Markit. Jordan was tasked with completing an RFP for her business and hired an outside consultant for assistance. When we saw the final work product, we were shocked by the subpar quality that seemed to be accepted by the industry at large. The formatting was off, the writing was shoddy and the information was not even compliant. She called me and we worked through the night putting together a proposal she could stand behind. It was then that we realized combining her writing talent with my RFP knowledge was a winning formula for success.
Since then, we’ve created the world’s leading RFP company, had two daughters, and recently launched our own RFP search engine, Bid Banana.
Can you share with us three strengths, skills, or characteristics that helped you to reach this place in your career? How can others actively build these areas within themselves?
Responding and not reacting goes a long way in creating ongoing, fruitful relationships. Often, especially in tense situations, we want to react with how we feel or our thoughts on the matter. When we take the time to really absorb what someone else is saying and mull that over, we can come back from a place of respect and openness that encourages further conversation and mutual understanding.
Effective listening opens you up to new experiences. It was actually my wife and Co-founder, Jordan, who suggested we start The Bid Lab. If I had shut that suggestion down, instead of really being open to what she had to say, we would have never built something like The Bid Lab which I am so proud of and passionate about.
Being open and vulnerable allows you to create a team of support. I work with businesses every day who have had the vulnerability to come to me and say “I need help.” That first step in seeking outside support is what often leads to them winning big and growing their business more than they had ever thought possible.
Which skills are you still trying to grow now?
Fear is the number one aspect that holds people back from being authentic and vulnerable. And for good reason. Being vulnerable and authentic takes work and it is scary. It’s been said many times because it is so very true, you can’t let fear win. Often, we are afraid to be who we are in the world because we fear rejection, but it’s far better to be rejected for yourself than for someone you’re pretending to be. And every failure, every rejection just gets you one step closer to success.
Let’s talk about marketing. Can you share an interesting or amusing story about a time you tried a really out-of-the-box marketing tactic? What was the result?
For us, social media ads just did not pan out when it came to marketing our consulting services. What we learned from this was that just because we weren’t converting from social media, that didn’t mean we weren’t gaining brand awareness. Now, we spend our time tailoring our social media posts and focus on engagement instead of conversions.
What tips do you have to receive buy-in from the CEO and other stakeholders for trying out less conventional tactics?
Marketing approaches can vary across different cultures; what works in one culture may not necessarily be effective in another. Straight-forward marketing strategies employed in Japan might not work as well as they would in the United States, for example, because Japan is a high-context culture. In high-context cultures, communication tends to be more indirect, and marketing messages may rely largely on visual imagery and symbolism. Meanwhile, in low-context cultures, communication is more explicit. Marketing messages may focus more on the specific features and benefits of a product. The differences don’t stop there. Japan has a more individualistic streak, whereas a country like China values collectivistic messaging. Companies will do better marketing personal benefits on an individualistic level than they will in China, where a company would want to think about promoting benefits to society as a whole.
Content is a big part of inbound marketing, but with content saturation making it increasingly harder to stand out, what unique approach has your team taken to make your content truly memorable and shareable?
Direct email and marketing communications are ways to reach business contacts. If no one is listening to your marketing pitches, then you’ve got a problem. The more thought-out and measured your delivery, the greater the chance you will command attention.
Business communication is the same as communicating with any potential customer: you’ve got to know your demographic, and you’ve got to have something of value to say. With B2B, it’s probably advisable to take fewer “calculated risks” as they’ve got skin in the game.
Personalization is another key trend in marketing. How has your company embraced unconventional methods to deliver personalized experiences to your target audience?
As people evolve, they become more sophisticated in their understanding of when and how they are being marketed to. This is why it is more important than ever to be authentic and honest in your advertising. Much like the de-influencer trend on TikTok, many people are looking for more authentic examples of how to live their lives. Thus respond to more genuine, human, and even “messy” marketing. Don’t be afraid to add the imperfect or perfectly human into your advertising approach. People make lifelong connections to brands that are relatable. Your honest humanity in marketing will be your greatest asset in a world craving more authenticity and less perfection.
Can you discuss an innovative strategy your team has used to effectively nurture leads and guide them down the conversion path?
Someone with something valuable is willing to be patient and deliver information calmly because what they have to communicate has value, and they want it to sink in. Slow down and focus your communication to command attention. Then wow that B2B business with the information they’ll need to make great decisions.
Fantastic. Here is the primary question of our interview. What are 5 Unconventional Inbound Marketing Tactics that Work?
1. Organic Content: More than half of our leads are from people reading our articles. It’s a long-term investment because our 100+ articles have taken us years to develop and refine, but they pay huge dividends. Plus, we’re constantly refreshing our content with new information. In our article Why Should I Search for RFPs Online we provide multiple options for updated, online RFP search engines.
2. Referrals: Getting referrals, advertising a referral program, and compensating for referrals are huge for a consulting firm! In our case, a firm that came to us as a referral ended up being one of our biggest clients.
3. Paid Ads: Paid ads can either be your best friend or your worst nightmare. If not managed properly, they can ineffectively represent your brand, be served to the wrong audience, and do nothing to attract the type of customer you are after. (We’ve been there.) If executed effectively, they can tell your company’s story, reach people whom you wouldn’t have touched otherwise, and track every single interaction. (Now we’re here!)
4. Guerilla Marketing: Find cheaper and nontraditional ways to advertise your services to really make yourself stand out from the crowd of competitors. We just launched our new RFP search engine, Bid Banana, so we’re sending banana gear to clients. This quirky form of advertisement creates a lasting impression. It really sets us apart, while also conveying our spirit of fun and positivity.
5. Account Management: Don’t forget to market to your existing clients. Utilize strategic opportunities to upsell/cross-sell. Not only is it cheaper, but you also have a greater ROI when working with existing clients.
Where do you look for inspiration on creative and unconventional marketing tactics? How do you come up with new ideas?
On average, we try a new marketing strategy once per quarter. We take time to plan, execute, test, and refine to see what is really working for us. The biggest ‘boxes’ are ROI and attracting the right types of clients. We want to communicate what we do effectively so we drive in the clients that can really benefit from our partnership. For us, social media ads just did not pan out when it came to marketing our consulting services. What we learned from this was that just because we weren’t converting from social media, that didn’t mean we weren’t gaining brand awareness. Now, we spend our time tailoring our social media posts and focus on engagement instead of conversions. Focus on your marketing strategy. And if you cannot pay attention to your marketing strategy, hire people who can. Marketing is all in the details. This isn’t something that can merely run on autopilot. Set aside specific time to focus and refine your marketing on a regular basis. Ensure you have a team in place that shares your vision and can help you expand.
If you had to share one ingredient in your ‘secret sauce’ to success with inbound marketing, what would it be?
For our business, digital marketing has been the most successful. Especially when we were first getting started, we were able to control every dollar and cent spent in a very measurable way. For us, it gave us the confidence to slowly spend more and more and grow our brand in the space.
Are there any underrated skills or qualities that you encourage others not to overlook?
Mainly, I believe most marketing is designed to make us feel like we don’t have enough. I’ve never seen a marketing campaign designed around the benefits of slowing down. The goal of advertising is to get you to purchase a product and the quickest way. To do that is by making you feel less without that product. This constant bombardment of ‘do more / need more’ contributes to the stressful downside of Hustle Culture.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I, too, used to go into a 52-story skyscraper in New York City in a full suit every day. But, when I founded The Bid Lab, I remembered that the people I worked most closely with on my previous team worked out of the UK and India. Why couldn’t I work closely with people who weren’t located geographically nearby to me? The Bid Lab is, and always has been a remote company. While there are myriad reasons why remote work is worth championing (environmental impact, productivity, etc.). I think it works best for us is because it allows us to hire from a unique pool of individuals. I’m looking at you, an amazing writer, living 3 hours outside of Albuquerque who needs to be available to her elderly mother in the afternoons. And I’m also looking at you, a sales superstar who wants to homeschool her kids but can also sell ice to an Eskimo. I’m proud of the fact that The Bid Lab is made up of a team of individuals who have individual needs but also a common ability to log into work wherever they may be.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.
Authority Magazine Article Link: 5 Unconventional Inbound Marketing Tactics that Work