#16 – What The Fuck Is Inbound Marketing?

You sit down in the audience for an evening of stand up comedy. You are excited, you have a pint in hand, bag of crisps sneaked in your jacket pocket, and it’s the weekend. The comedian comes on stage to rapturous applause… and then starts to pick on the crowd. You’ve got balls, you tell yourself, you can handle being picked on. You think, just maybe, you’ve got a witty riposte up your sleeve that will humiliate the comedian and elevate you to the star of the show. You’ll get him, you think.

dara o'briain seo meme

He swoops through the front row and turns on you. Without warning he jumps straight into “What do you do for a living?” Hang on, where was “what is your name?”, you think, as you stutter to answer his question, “I am an SEO”. The audience go silent. “What did he say?” you hear someone ask. You start to go red. You should have lied, that’s what you’re thinking. Should have gone with doctor or accountant, something that everybody knows already.

The comedian, pleased you have fallen into his trap, looks up to the audience with a confused look, then back down at you. He seems to have increased in size three-fold, as he looms over you like a demon headmaster. “A what now?”

You pause. How else to describe it? “Erm”, you begin, “I work with websites, helping them rank in Google.” Uh-oh, now you’ve blown it. Everyone has heard of those people. SEOs: Cowboys. Charlatans. Rip-off merchants. Somehow, you can’t stop yourself from making it worse, “Some people call it inbound marketing”.

As £££ signs flash in the comedian’s eyes, he pauses for effect, then asks you directly, “What the fuck is inbound marketing?”

dara o'briain inbound marketing meme

You fidget uncontrollably, looking first left and then right, trying to find some way out of this hell hole. You are penned in, trapped from all sides by the staring masses, just waiting to laugh in your face. With your back against the wall, you decide to stand up against this bully and defend your mighty industry. “Well”, you begin, “it’s the opposite of outbound marketing – y’know, phone calls, direct mail, spam, all the interruptive forms that everyone hates.”

The comedian seems intrigued, as you sigh inwardly and thank fuck you’ve been reading the Hubspot blog lately. He wants more though. “So what is it exactly that you do?”

“I…erm…figure out what stuff people are looking for, then help them find what I… want them to find.”

“And then what happens?”

“Well, they end up on my client’s website and we try to convert them – so they buy a product, or download an ebook, or fill out a quote form.”

The comedian steps away, seemingly content with his torture. That wasn’t so bad. No one really laughed. Pretty much got away with it. You take a sip of lager – ahhhh. You carefully place your pint back on the floor, and as you look back up, the comedian is right there waiting for you. Waiting, staring, with an evil glint in his eye. He knows something you don’t.

In a panic, you feel your cheeks go red as you start to question yourself – ‘I am right, aren’t I? Inbound marketing is good, right? It’s what people WANT!’

He senses your disarray. “Ok, so they fill a form in or do a download or whatever, but then what has that actually achieved?”

HA! He doesn’t even get it. What an idiot! “Well once you have collected their details like their phone number or email address, you can ring them or email them, to try and sell them something.”

“Oh, those INTERRUPTIVE forms that everybody hates. Well isn’t that noble.”


dara o'briain inbound marketing meme


  1. Reply
    Anthony Pensabene (or Content Muse when dressed in costume) April 2, 2013

    see, there’s these people who want to make more money by doing less work, providing lesser to no value..

  2. Reply
    Se▲n April 2, 2013

    Avant-garde content. Great imagination here Patrick.

  3. Reply
    Patrick April 2, 2013

    Cheers fellas. I like it much more with pictures. Thanks for the gradual steer on that one!

  4. Reply
    Dustin Verburg April 2, 2013

    Comedy is the devil speaking and I don’t abide by laughter

    Seriously though, I was kind of thinking about this today. I imagine it’s the same exchange when someone asks you what you do at a bar or at a party. I’ve only had the ‘in-depth’ conversation a few times, and have only dealt with a few incredulous people. One exchange did turn out something like this. Though I don’t think the phrase ‘inbound marketing’ has ever left my lips. Too many syllables. In Idaho we only speaks in grunts and ‘git ‘er dones.’

    • Reply
      Dustin Verburg April 2, 2013

      “we only speaks” is also common Idaho vernacular

    • Reply
      Patrick April 3, 2013

      I’m with you Dustin – I can’t be bothered having that conversation with new people, I doubt even my friends really get what I do.

  5. Reply
    Iain April 3, 2013

    I mostly go with “I do Marketing, mainly online.”. People only tend to ask more if they are interested, or if we have literally nothing else to speak about.

  6. Reply
    Se▲n April 5, 2013

    no-one is interested in what anyone else does really.

    • Reply
      Patrick April 5, 2013

      Except comedians. They can’t get enough of it.

      • Reply
        Se▲n April 5, 2013

        haha, I suppose. What do you do? I want to take the piss out of it!

  7. Reply
    Timothy W. Crane May 28, 2014

    At least he didn’t try to say something swarmy like some of the ad copy we see from amateurs… “I effectively generate analytic data from your existing network resources so that they can be constructively formatted for digital consumption in a manner that elevates SMO and SEO for higher ROI”

    I run an agency and I sometimes get that from prospective vendors and applicants, before I say thank you… have a nice day. F— I just tell my clients I use the the Internet to make them more money and bring in customers. They get that. Comdeians notwithstanding.

    Loved the angle of the article.
    Thanks for the read,


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