Are You an Inbound Marketing Fence Sitter or Barnstormer?

Are You an Inbound Marketing Fence Sitter or Barnstormer?

By John McTigueJun 10 /2013

are you an inbound marketing barnstormerYou may not be "country" enough to know what fence sitting is all about, and you may not be old enough to know what a barnstormer is, so I'm going to lay it out for you. Fence sitters are an indecisive lot. They can't decide which side is greener, so they sit on the fence and do nothing. Barnstormers, on the other hand, are daredevils. Flying a biplane through a small barn is a no-brainer. The heck with the risks—let's do this! At some point, marketing executives are faced with making decisions about strategy and tactics and the degree to which they will be "all-in." When it comes to inbound marketing, there seems to be little middle ground. You're either in, or you're out. Into which of these camps do you fall?

Fence Sitter

Let's face it, inbound marketing is a disruptive strategy in the sense that you have to change the way you do marketing. You have to stop pushing your products and start engaging in helpful conversations. This means all of your messaging and digital assets are probably in need of an overhaul. You need to hire journalists and social media wonks, data analysts and sales and marketing hybrids. It's a big investment in time and money, and the ROI comes only after several months of hard work. Are you ready for this? Here's what we hear from the fence sitters on a regular basis:

  • We're looking at our options and trying to choose the best course over the next several months.
  • We've seen the case studies and testimonials, but we're just not sure how inbound will work in our industry.
  • Can you do a campaign or two over the next couple of months to prove that it works?
  • Can you show me how well this will work based on our current data?
  • We know inbound works for B2C companies, but what about B2B?

The thing is, there are tons of published case studies showing the ROI and best practices for inbound marketing. Just Google "inbound marketing case studies" if you don't believe me. Does inbound always work as advertised? No way. It takes commitment on your part—talent, budget and backing from the Management Team to be truly successful.


There are certainly risks involved in being the first one to the party. You stick your neck out, and you're likely to get the axe, right? Well, maybe. The thing is, inbound marketing has been going strong for 5 to 6 years now, so the testing phase is over. According to HubSpot's 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report, the cat is definitely out of the bag:

  • Nearly 60% of marketers have adopted inbound strategies, while 19% aren't sure how to categorize their tactics.
  • Inbound marketing adoption has grown about 50% for the third year in a row.
  • B2B companies embrace inbound marketing 38% more than B2C companies.
  • Nearly 50% of CEOs link inbound strategies with larger marketing goals.
  • CEOs care most about reaching the right audience and converting more leads to customers—which are the strengths of inbound marketing.

So, inbound marketing is becoming mainstream and is gaining traction in just about any industry you care to name. Don't believe me? Just check out your competition's website. Is there a blog? Social media profiles and ongoing conversations? Educational downloads and webinars? If so, you have some ground to make up—quickly. If not, maybe you still have a chance to lead the way.

Either way, the barnstormers have already left the hangar. They've been flying for years. Right now, the divide between fence sitters and early adopters is starting to look like the Grand Canyon. Here's my free advice to you:

  1. Bring in some inbound marketing pros to assess where you are now and where you want to go.
  2. Have them prepare an inbound marketing plan, complete with persona analysis, engagement map (a.k.a. content map), editorial calendar and marketing KPI scorecard.
  3. Get going now. If you don't have the pieces in place, hire an inbound marketing agency now, and ask them to help you build your team for the future.
  4. Give inbound marketing a chance to succeed. It takes time and effort to build your online presence, thought leadership and a pool of content assets you will use to create and sustain growth in your market. Give it 12 months, and stop thinking of it as an experiment.

If not inbound marketing, what's Plan B?

How will you generate new sales leads in this digital world? Will the old stand-by methods continue to work? Or have they already started to break down? If your competitors jump on the inbound marketing bus and you don't, how will you compete? If you take a wait-and-see approach, won't you be giving them an advantage? Your call.

As Mr. Spock would say, live long and prosper. But for Pete's sake, get off the fence.

Photo credit: Capt' Gorgeous

john mctigue blog photoWith 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. Connect with John via TwitterLinkedIn or Google Plus.

Conquering Content Marketing

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 and Twitter.