Inbound Marketing Recipe Fails; Bologna Anyone?


I hope my physician doesn’t read my blog because I have to confess something; I like bologna. Yes, that cheap, valve-clogging, artery-hardening sandwich meat full of fat and salt and oh so yummy with mustard between some lily white sliced bread. Want to notch it up a bit? Fry it.

Okay, it’s a rarity that I eat it because I know each bite is shortening my life but I’m betting there are closet bologna fans out there that just reading this has their mouth watering. So what does this have to do with marketing, in particular inbound marketing?

There’s a good post over on Duct Tape Marketing, the blog hosted by John Jantsch, entitled “Are You Building Your Business With A Crock-pot or a Microwave?” that talks about how inbound differs from, is better than traditional methods. I agree with the analogy (especially any that uses food/cooking to make the point 🙂 ) and how user expectations have to be tempered. What I would add is that far too many B2B companies won’t reap the benefits of inbound marketing and here’s why.

Inbound marketing or at least the theory and rationale behind it can make it the easiest marketing method to sell and yet it is the most difficult to implement often due to misalignment of expectations between user, seller and administrator. This leads to multiple friction points and well, then things heat up and not in the pleasant way we want or expect like with a crockpot or microwave.

Inbound also ‘suffers’ from the need for patience, a virtue in short support in alot of companies. In business what used to be called FedEx mentality is now E-mail mentality; not just overnight but near instantaneous results expectations and I wish I were exaggerating. The C-suite and sales leadership expect marketing support that can help them deliver on this month’s/quarter’s revenue goal, not 9-12 months out and longer.

Adding to the challenge, some companies exhibit a form of post-Great Recession traumatic shock syndrome whose primary symptom is terminal procrastination about pulling the trigger on serious marketing budget/effort. Then when push comes to shove the demand for results, any results, increases exponentially leading to “haste makes waste” as money/time/resources get thrown at solutions. This can be a real toxic stew for those championing a slow-cook method like inbound.

Instead there’s often a knee-jerk response, defaulting to “proven” methods because primarily they offer the path of least resistance in garnering management support. This is what’s frequently behind the recurrent fallback to outbound marketing practices or worse, pseudo-inbound with half-baked or missing components, while kicking that legitimate inbound “can” down the road.

So what do we end up with for a marketing menu plan? Crockpot? Microwave? Forget it. They take too long. Break out the bologna.

Got a story about how you got your stakeholders to “eat healthy”?  We’d love to hear about it.



Sales and Marketing Alignment Evolves; Is the “Saleozoic” Era Ending?

A New Business Era When Sales and Marketing Must Align 

Full disclosure. I am a sales person AND a marketer. To some those may be mutually exclusive and even put me on the lowest rungs of the social trust-ranking right around “ambulance chaser” and “secretly tears labels off pillows”. Still, in over twenty-plus years in the agency world including a partner position, few things are as gratifying for me as making the sale. Before this I sold in the industrial and construction industries. Before that retail. And as a kid and teenager, I went door-to-door selling my lawn services or canvassing for an HVAC company. So on the topic of sales and marketing getting on the same page, I’m glad John Jantsch is putting a white-hot spotlight on it in his new book,  “Duct Tape Selling, Think Like a Marketer-Sell Like A Superstar”.

Maybe it will lend more evidence that we’re actually entering a new era in business where a lot of talk and half measures about sales and marketing alignment will be replaced with real, broad progress.



The Time is Ripe but Will the C-suite Belly-up To The Bar?

bar sceneRead Mark Schaefer’s interview with Mr. Jantsch and it sounds like John is all over this. Solutions are badly needed for what I have come to term the “prescriptive” and “orchestration” challenges; namely adapting a new sales and marketing alignment methodology and customizing it according to the many verticals and cultures out there. A lot of work goes into carefully prescribing the correct solutions and timing, then diligently managing the conversion and integration process. Naturally for it to have a chance of lasting success, it needs to get a serious, long-term commitment from company leadership because the change resistance is significant.

The Age of Sales Dinosaurs Is Ending; Why They Won’t Go Quietly

raul-martin-t-rex-edmontosaWhere is change resistance coming from? There is a vast, entrenched culture of hard-boiled salesman and managers with their call lists and briefcases whose mindset is by and large, like that of the therapod dinosaurs. They are governed by nature’s law of conservancy that dictates putting forth energy sparingly to conserve it while exploiting those opportunities that produce results of the highest value with the least energy investment (you survival-theme, reality TV watchers already know this). This basic tenet of survival underpins every action so when someone outside the sales team “pack” promotes a new hunting method, there better be hard proof that it not only conforms to this law but puts more ‘food on the ground’. Adding to the challenge is the U.S. business environment today is the pinnacle of “short attention-span theater” so anyone making the case for change must have carefully engineered it to quickly garner interest (just like any good content) with clear CTAs (just like any conversion process) if it has a prayer of getting consideration or buy-in. The preeminent, age-old problem here is getting stakeholders to try something new that runs the risk of starving and that’s not altogether figurative if you’ve ever tried to exist on commission sales, meet quarterly targets or run your own business.

The Emergence of a New Sales Species

The timing of John’s book couldn’t be better given the evolutionary pressure on the sales team that in my opinion is like the natural selection process that follows a cataclysmic event but instead of a giant asteroid hitting Earth, in this case it was the Great Recession. It came along just as a lot of the furry, little and very intelligent content and inbound marketing animals were emerging.
People like warm, trustworthy and furry and embrace them.
People downright fear being stalked by large reptiles.
I like to think John may be documenting the “dinosaur” die off that marks the end of the “Saleozoic Era”, and the emergence of a hybrid or possibly an entirely new species in the evolution of sales and marketing alignment.
Are you seeing this in your company? Are you one of the new breed? We’d love to read about what you’re seeing in our comments section so please share won’t you.

UPDATE:  Since I first wrote this post, John’s book has gotten alot of good review including this very thorough one I recommend, “Out With the Sales Rep and In With The Sales Guide: A Review of Duct Tape Selling”,  from demand gen authority, Dan McDade over at PointClear. Mosey over for a solid CliffsNotes-esque run down by Dan.

The B2B Marketing Opportunity Gap: Three Causes and How To Fix Them

bridging the gapI think most B2B marketers would agree that beyond the technical and design excellence of a B2B company’s online presence, there must be a content strategy and plan that’s getting supported by content experts and thought leaders who are creating authentic, genuine, and compelling content. But it’s not happening as much as it should and here are just three contributing causes to what I call the B2B Marketing Opportunity Gap

#1 Marketing Technology Runs On High Octane Content
The myriad of marketing tools from apps, to cloud ware to automated lead nurturing that we are seeing is wonderful because they remove much of the drudgery in the workaday world of B2B marketing. But this is where B2B company execs trying to support the transition to inbound marketing often make the mistake of thinking marketing technology alone is the solution. They will find dollars to fund MAS, CRM and CMS technology with all its potential of money savings with the expectation it will deliver greater marketing ROI. But without fresh, original and compelling content to fuel it, this is the equivalent of a high performance engine with a one gallon gas tank. Going nowhere fast.  The reality is B2B companies should continuously budget for ongoing content analysis and development if they want to compete for a lead in the pack.

#2 Fresh, New Rubber or Retreads?
Truckers either buy new tires for their rigs or have the old ones retreaded which is just what it sounds like; sticking new tread around the old tire casing. This solution is relatively cheap but also somewhat unreliable. We’ve all seen and occasionally dodged those strips of rubber tread on the interstate some call “road gators”. Those came off retreaded tires. Alot of B2B marketers are doing the same thing with their marketing content. You know what I’m talking about. Look at the volume of blogs that are a rehashing and repurposing of the same conversation. On the other hand, well done fresh content is like a new tire; it almost never fails and develops a good reputation for performance and reliability. All B2B marketing content should be like that but of course it costs more to produce quality. Too many marketing decisions though are based solely on cost instead of ROI and the result can be disappointing. Study the category leader’s online content, follow the best practitioners like Content Marketing Institute and Copy Bloggers or hire someone like Jay Baer, Mark Schaeffer or John Jantsch to help you set up your program.

#3 B2B Inbound Isn’t A Chicken Rotisserie
Recently I read a post by agency new business expert Michael Gass about how ad agencies are requiring staff to be more digital. The lateness of this is a little shocking considering Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan described the new digital citizen in their book Inbound Marketing,

Cover of "Inbound Marketing: Get Found Us...

Cover via Amazon

back in 2009 but at least ad agencies KNOW they have a content void to fill if they are to have any credibility in the new marketplace. Some of their clients are hearing that too. Both camps face the same challenge; developing a content program, executing on it, monitoring the results and using those results to continuously improve upon the content.  It’s NOT a Ron Popeil Chicken Rotisserie where one can “set it and forget it”. It’s more like a fitness lifestyle that requires discipline; stick with it though and you’ll get long lasting, accumulating benefits.

Where else are you seeing issues that are standing in the way of getting your B2B marketing program ramped up and amp’d up? We’d enjoy hearing about them.