It seems safe to say that most people are more than willing to put themselves out into the world through social media and other online avenues. But there are many who are fiercely protective about what they’re willing to reveal online (perhaps we all could stand to be a little more like them). I have friends who refuse to click an ad just because they know it’s an ad; they don’t want to give the advertiser the satisfaction of a click-through. You can be certain that these folks are not readily and agreeably completing surveys, entering contests, or sharing email addresses to gain access to gated information.

The less of a data trail they leave online, the happier they are. And while they may be happy, they’re also harder to find, figure out, and reach out to. It’s as if they find an inordinate amount pleasure in making our jobs — and yours — more difficult.

So, how do you market to them?

How do you create a persona that fits these secretive types? How do you reach someone who’s made a conscious effort to be somewhat undiscoverable and unreachable?

You don’t. In fact, it’s probably better to ignore them. Focus your efforts on people who are willing to complete forms, answer surveys, enter contests, and subscribe to newsletters. Those others are of no use to you. Don’t build your outbound marketing efforts around them.

 Make them reach out to you, instead.

These people are the unwitting proof behind the fact that inbound marketing works. While they may be extra-careful about the quality and quantity of personal information they share online, they do turn to the Internet to research whatever interests them, professionally or personally. And their interest just might coincide with your area of expertise.

When your high-quality content appears in their search results and showcases your (or your organization’s) knowledge, it could very well draw them in. And when they discover you, they’ll happily and appreciatively consume your content, because you helped them find what they needed or wanted to know.

If they consider you a provider of relevant and helpful information, they’ll be back. Your website may even earn a bookmark. And someday, they might reach out to you in a way that opens the door for a deeper and more meaningful relationship. You’ll have to be patient and understanding and honest for that to happen, but those traits are the foundation of any solid, healthy, and worthwhile relationship.