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People Don't Want to Be Interrupted—Marketing Agencies Don't Care

By John McTigueSep 7, 2012

confused about inbound marketingI've had several conversations with some pretty well established marketing agencies lately, and I'm blown away by some of the things I'm hearing. I guess I must be living in a bubble, because I was under the impression that the message from consumers has been loud and clear—we don't want to be interrupted, or called, until we're ready. That's what inbound marketing is all about, offering up solution-based content that only hints at a possible sale and nurturing people at their own pace. So why are large marketing agencies still not getting it? Here are a few snippets, paraphrased to protect the perpetrators.

Agency VP of Marketing: "We're just not getting our message out there. We should be getting 10 times the traffic and leads, and our leads just aren't any good. We need to double down on email blasts and PPC, and we've hired an inside sales team to call every lead right away."

Me: "Really? So, you're just going to mass market to everybody, regardless of persona or fit?"

VP: "Our message on our website is tight. They should be able to self-qualify based on that."

Me: "But your free iPad offers and contests—what do they have to do with who you are and what you sell?"

VP: "Like I said, once we get them in the door, they can explore the website—and we'll call them to make sure they know who we are."

Me: "Hmmm, OK, well good luck with that. What about attracting them with valuable content and lead nurturing them with more helpful content to move them down the funnel?"

VP: "Yes, we do that now. We have one of the top marketing automation systems in place and use it regularly."

Me: "I see. How do you use it?"

VP: "We send out emails to our list regularly, then follow up with lead nurturing campaigns."

Me: "What kind of content do you send in those campaigns?"

VP: "Either newsletters or special offers, you know, the usual stuff."

Me: "OK, let me see if I have this straight. Your priority is to increase traffic and leads, regardless of whether or not they are qualified, then you intend to hit them up for more offers and get them to surrender a working phone number. Then you'll call them and work your sales magic. Do I have this about right?"

VP: "Look, we know all about your inbound marketing stuff, and yes we'll be trying some of that, too, to see if it works. Right now, we need to turn this thing around in a hurry, so we're sticking to what we know already works."

My Take

I know this seems shocking to those of you who are doing inbound marketing in earnest either as an agency or for your business. I've had this conversation, or something like it, many times over the past 2-3 years. We forget that inbound marketing is still in its infancy in terms of market saturation and industry best practices. Even marketing executives at many agencies and companies, who should be looking to improve both processes and results, still don't get it. I suppose this has something to do with fear of change, or laziness, or both. Why wouldn't you listen to your own potential customers as they attempt to wiggle out of your clutches and find more satisfying solutions? Why wouldn't you at least pay attention to the reams of marketing data that supports these trends?

Beats me.

Photo credit: miguelb


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Additional Topics: Content and Design
The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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