Why Inbound Marketing sucks (#1 of 5 Marketing Tactics that suck)

Inbound marketing is hot. Who says so? The opportunists taking lots of VC money and building fast-growing businesses ‘while the sun shines’ and before the inevitable ‘consolidation of platforms’. We too love fast-growing technology businesses but the hype level here is off the scale. As one prospect we met last week acknowledged, the high-pressure “Create Marketing People Love” message is just not credible.

Full disclosure, Inbound Marketing competes directly for marketing budget with one of our core offerings, influencer relations. But that is not why it sucks for its buyers. It sucks because the vendors who are selling high-ticket item solutions for Inbound Marketing are claiming they have a Holy Grail a One-Size-Fits-All ’ERP for marketing’, a panacea to make B2B marketing easier.

Of course it is great to have a ‘Web to Lead’ process more sophisticated than first generation web forms and for SEO it is also fabulous to have click tracking which can automate the A-B Testing of headlines, copy and images, especially as Web Designers charged so much for these basics in the past. However, automation alone is not a strategy and the dirty secret is

A better mousetrap is useless without cheese

Without a compelling message and great content , it doesn’t matter how you track ‘website journeys’. If you just don’t have the traffic, you just created your own Zil Lane, which a select few travel up and down as they please, while the world moves on around it.

As the ultimate creator of content, Einstein, once said ‘Not everything that matters can be measured and not everything that can be measured matters.”. Belatedly, to address this gaping hole in their offerings, some of the leading players have been farming out a ‘commoditized’ version of content creation out to their partners. You can see this sneaking concession to the all-important content buried here on a leading inbound marketing provider’s website. This in itself tells a story – not so much ‘Who moved my cheese?’ as ‘Please sir can I have some more?’.

The truth is while you want an industrial strength mousetrap to be built sturdily in a factory, most of us prefer the taste of hand-crafted cheese to processed squares (even if the barcodes are great for tracking where we buy them). Great content is a pre-cursor of Inbound Marketing. Without it, the promise of torrential leads effortlessly flowing into websites rings as hollow as ‘jam tomorrow’. Just check out the outbound emails in your inbox and sales calls from inbound marketing firms for further proof.

Next time we debunk another ‘great white hope’ of modern B2B marketing – Content Marketing. Feel free to comment on what you have read so far and expect us to come out swinging again next time.


4 responses to “Why Inbound Marketing sucks (#1 of 5 Marketing Tactics that suck)

  1. I’m not sure if I understood, but is this basically “have good content and don’t bother paying for traffic if you don’t, because it’s a waste of time?”

    • positivemarketingorg

      Hi Roe,

      Thanks for the comment. These days, good content does not cut it. With mobile devices, information overload and Social Media, you need GREAT traffic. You also need to understand that Inbound Marketing converts ONCE someone is aware/excited/curious about the customer problems you solve and will not drive traffic on its own anymore than SEO. While we may have been a little harsh on the Inbound Marketing guys, they are not shy in claiming they can make customers ‘love your brand’ and, in common with many tactics which are over-hyped to begin with, the pay off requires a little more strategy and in the case of Inbound Marketing is totally reliant on exciting content (graphics or copy with attitude).

      Does that clarify?

  2. I get your point, Paul, but I do have an issue with “great content”. As I point out in a previous blog post, it’s a statistical impossibility for all of us to be above average. If the content does its job for the audience it’s intended to influence, that IS enough. And saves a heck of a lot of trouble and money getting from good to perfection.

    • positivemarketingorg

      Thanks for the comments. Agree that perfect content is a goal rather than a realistic expectation. However, the sheer volume of marketing content now possible (effectively limitless) means the best content possible is just ‘table stakes’, what is needed after that is constant monitoring, tweaking and refreshing of your content to increase its relevance. Perhaps perfect is not the right description, tightly-aligned may do it more justice. For what happens to B2B marketing content that is left to ‘rot on the shelves’ of Old Skool publishers, you might like to read this new post http://bit.ly/Sky4SX.

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