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Inbound Marketing is an absurd term!

Inbound marketing and outbound MarketingThe way inbound marketing is used is absurd to me. To think that someone will come to your business, out of nowhere, is crazy. There must be something that brings them to your business; that allows them to find your business.

The term “Inbound” marketing seems to refer to the fact that people find your company because you didn’t advertise, or pay to get leads. But what if you pay an outside agency to do your content for you? Is that still inbound?

There are so many reasons the term doesn’t make sense to me.

I find it very confusing.

People found your company and downloaded some information from you, and left some contact information, so then you could begin an “outbound” marketing campaign with them.

But how did they find you in the first place?

The only way, they could find you, is because you did something “outbound”.

I also disagree that the people who use the term inbound, don’t include email marketing or phone calls asking for an appointment, or mailings asking if you want a brochure. These aren’t paid ads.

If you had a company that was in a warehouse, or anywhere, and did nothing but wait for the phone to ring, or someone to walk in the door, how many customers do you think you would have?

Exactly! Zip, Nada, Rien, Zero!

But if they did find you, because you did nothing, then this would be the only way you could really use the term inbound, because there was no marketing or solicitation involved.

In order for people to find you, you need to do something “outbound” first. Even if you don’t advertise, you need to make a blog post, send an email, tweet, or write on your Facebook wall. You need to do something, or no one will find your company, or you.

And this is all outbound marketing.

Plus, what about referrals? Are they inbound or outbound? According to the current definition, they are inbound. But I disagree with that definition.

I had an argument with a reader of my blog, who disagreed with me, when I said that referrals were outbound. He stated to me that other people find you, somehow, because you did good work for someone or some company.

I said, well first you generally have to ask that company to give you a referral. Very, very seldom, will someone just pick up the phone and tell their friend about your company, and that person will automatically call you.

Even if they did, the referrer still did something outbound. They called their friend.

And of course, when someone does find you, and leaves their contact information, what’s the first thing your company does? It starts an email campaign with them; IE: it starts outbound marketing.

To me, the term inbound, referring to marketing, is an absurd term.

We could use the terms solicited and non-solicited. But there are two problems with these terms.
1. Lawyers use these terms. A lawyer can also use the term solicitor, to describe their profession. And of course who wants to be associated with lawyers?
2. Where do actions like referrals fit in? Are they really solicited or non-solicited?

So what terms should we use then to refer to non-advertising marketing?

I like to call it “organic” marketing for all non-paid marketing, and “paid” for, well, paid marketing.

I believe this takes the confusion away from the terms inbound and outbound. And the term organic marketing has been used for decades in describing the way you obtain clients.

Organic growth refers to the growth you get in your company through selling more to your current clients, or selling something to a new client. The other way to grow is through acquisition.

Organic marketing can refer to all of the methods mentioned above that you did not pay for.

So, I like to refer to two kinds of marketing, organic and paid. And both are outbound marketing, before you ever start getting anyone coming “inbound” to your company.

Organic marketing refers to things like posting a blog, doing a video, writing on your Facebook wall, sending an email, sending a letter, doing a seminar or webinar, making a phone call, appearing on TV, anything you didn’t pay for. There are many ways to let people find you first. But you need to do something outbound, to get them to find you.

That something could also be an advertisement. The ad could run anywhere. It could be a magazine ad, PPC, TV or radio ad; anything to get people to see your company, like organic, except you paid for it.

And both methods are effective. How would Google and Facebook exist, if it wasn’t for their paid ads?

You need to do something outbound before the inbound can begin. So let’s get rid of the term “inbound” marketing. It just doesn’t make sense.

What do you think?

Kind regards,
Ian DaintyIan Dainty
416.277.4537
Author of the Forthcoming Book – B2B Marketing – The New Paradigm
Ian Dainty’s Email

Comment

4 responses to “Inbound Marketing is an absurd term!”

  1. Lamar Morgan says:

    Here is why I think the term “inbound marketing” makes sense to me – third-party referrals.

    I would much rather people come into my “sphere of influence” through third-party referrals than for me to have to purchase print ad space, radio spots, TV commercials and Google Adwords.

    Well, is that possible? Absolutely. Want proof? Look no farther than Linkedin. It actually has a free video series that teaches people HOW to do it.

    As for Hubspot, like them or not, they seem to be considered a major player in what most folks commonly refer to as the “inbound marketing” world.

    • Ian Dainty says:

      Hi Lamar, thanks for your comment. I am not quite sure what you mean by a 3rd party referral. But I agree that it is Hubspot that started this inbound marketing term.

  2. Eric Cooper says:

    Ian – As a newly formed Marketing Agency, I will take Inbound, Outbound, Referral, Non Referral, Organic, or just plain chopping the head off a live rooster at three in the morning and running round naked in the pursuit of Good Clients….

    I agree with most of your remarks. I can also confirm that I have read many books, magazines and blogs from noted Marketers. Also joined Networking Groups, Referral Organisations. Attended lectures and become “Squared Eyed” by watching YouTube’s vast array of experts all in the search for “The Answer”

    The best success I have, is to locate the Off Switch, then close the lid on my laptop, get off my backside and go look people in the eye and talk to them face to face

    All a bit old fashioned in todays world, but hey, I’m an old fashioned kinda guy.

    Now…Where has that rooster gone???

    Regards EC

    • Ian Dainty says:

      Eric, thanks for taking the time to comment. And thanks for not sending me a naked pic of yourself at 3:00 am. 🙂

      You are absolutely right. Whatever works for you, do it. However, in today’s connected age, you will find that most buyers (well over 90%) will check out your website, and other social media presences, to see what others are saying about you before they buy. So, having an Internet presence is mandatory today.

      If I can help in any way, please let me know.

      Cheers, Ian

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