#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.
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?”
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.”