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Inbound Marketing is the ultimate gift.
It's the promise of a waiting for the phone to ring.
It's the hope of that first traffic after going live.
It's the smile of making that LinkedIn connection.
In fact, it's whatever you want it to be.
For the business you love, it's always Inbound Marketing.
Who cares if there's no ROI?
Because it's the thought that counts.
Evidently, a lot of people think that things like New Coke, and Apple forcing people to listen to U2, are good examples of “marketing fails.”
But I guarantee you that, if you had been working for those companies at the time, you would have been, like, “Hell, yeah! We can do this!”
So, I wouldn’t be so quick to criticize.
The fact is that most marketing fails are much more prosaic. And people do them all the time.
In fact, you’re probably doing them right now.
For example, this company decided that their marketing strategy would be to post their promotional content on someone else’s inquiry form.
How is that different from making me listen to “Songs of Innocence”?
So here’s a great addition to the glut of garbage that masquerades as helpful marketing solutions.
Today I got an email from a company that sells an immersive workshop on how to improve your LinkedIn campaign performance.
Let me ask you a question:
If LinkedIn marketing actually worked, why are you sending me an email about it???
So yesterday I had a conference call with a prospect who, after first going with another vendor, finally decided to use our services.
Evidently, the pay-per-lead vendor he had previously chosen failed to deliver the results that they had promised.
And so now they had a little less money to spend, and a lot less time to make their numbers. But it was still do-able, so we’re moving forward.
Not two hours later, I get a call from another company that’s interested in getting a quote from us.
So, I asked him what they’re looking to do. And I also asked what other options they’re looking at.
And he tells me – they’re considering the very same vendor that failed with the guy I had just gotten off the phone with.
Hey, guys. I’m not going to bad-mouth a competitor: But at least READ THE FINE PRINT!
Oh, here's another one. I had a call yesterday with a professional services company that's looking for help finding new business.
So I asked him what they're doing now, and he starts telling how great his Marketing department is, how they put out all this great content, and how much traffic they get to their Web site.
So I looked at their traffic, and it's all bots and Web crawlers.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how'd you like the play?
So today I got an email from a company that wants to know if we'll do lead generation on a pay-per-lead basis. I explained that pay-per-lead in B2B is a scam, and we won't do it.
So he says that his previous vendor charged him on a per-appointment basis.
So I asked him why he's not working with them anymore. And he tells me that it's because the leads were no good.
Does he want to get scammed again?
So for today's example of how businesses are getting suckered by the major platforms, we have the LinkedIn post.
How much time, effort and money do you think these companies have wasted posting content to LinkedIn that no one will ever see, read or respond to?
But, hey, don't worry about it! Maybe someone will see your resume.
Before I go too far, I want to talk about who these videos are for.
In part, these videos are for all you Marketing Experts out there – people who supposedly know everything there is to know about content marketing, and inbound marketing, networking, email marketing, and all manner of digital marketing.
In most cases, if you’re lucky and you actually have a job, you probably work for a company that pays you to create content, develop contacts, drive traffic, send out emails, and maybe do some lead generation.
And so this series is also for all the salespeople out there who either do their own marketing and lead generation, or who rely on a Marketing expert to stimulate demand on their behalf.
And finally, this series is for all the business owners out there who have been led to believe any of that this stuff actually works. And who, as a result, pay these folks to get you in the game, until you run out of money and time because, in most cases, they can’t.
Now, just to be clear, I don’t want to say that this stuff NEVER works. But the odds that it will work are so small as to be effectively meaningless – because the game is wired against you.
Think about it this way: If a typical response rate on an email campaign is less than one one-hundredth of one percent, and you can get tagged as a spammer by Google if you send out more 250 unsolicited emails per day, how is that not a fatal flaw?
Speaking of Google. Right now, go to google and do a search on your preferred search terms. How many results did you get? Billions? And what page was your company on? And why is Google even paginated?
Anyway, how about this one: Maybe you’ve read of a study saying the 57% of the buyer’s journey is completed before they ever engage with a salesperson.
As this was being used as a potent justification for investing in inbound market, I actually called the company that supposedly did the original study. The “author” refused to speak with me. But his secretary told me that, in fact, it was entirely anecdotal, and they never actually did a real survey.
More to the point: If it were true, how would anyone ever sell something where the buyer didn’t already know he had a need??? What would he search on?
See where I’m going with this?
It’s all a con.
From a marketing perspective, when it comes to Web 2.0, unless you own the platform – whether it’s Google, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter or even here on TikTok - you’re the victim of a massive con.
This is because these platforms are designed to create revenues for the platforms, not for you. And your interests, and mine for that matter, are nothing more than an input to an algorithm designed to keep you engaged so the platform can make more money.
Now, to be sure, some of you may make a few dollars. An influencer here or there who, symbiotically with the platform, pulls in enough eyeballs, clicks, and advertising dollars. But let’s be clear, that’s not even what falls off the back of their truck.
Most of you will fail.
And that’s the problem, and it’s why we’re here. Whether you’re in marketing or sales – and whether you’re doing it on behalf of yourself or an employer – playing the Marketing 2.0 game is a failure path.
And, ironically, you won’t know it until it’s too late. That’s because you may have the illusion of success – clicks, traffic or followers for yourself or your employer, and maybe some sales. But you won’t gain wealth. And that’s because the game is stacked against you.
In fact, the system may even make you think you’re winning. But you’re in the matrix. You’re moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic. It’s all an illusion, a system, built by people who are genuinely smarter than you. And you, and I, for that matter, are just rats stuck in a maze.
So, in the next couple of videos, we’re going to talk about how the system is rigged against you. But my real goal is to help you beat the system.
You know, a little red pill shit.
Because, like your parents, I’ve got kids, and I have a stake in their, and (oddly enough) your, collective success. For example, I need an ROI on my retirement account beyond what I’m going to get on FANG stocks and 0.01% interest.
So, to start, you should know that us boomers aren’t really spending your inheritance. We’re wasting it on failed investments in all those start-ups that you’re working for.
For example, did you know that last year, according to the Wall Street Journal, over 75% of VC-backed companies failed in their first year?
These companies have some of the smartest people in the world working for them. And they’re being vetted by even smarter people. And yet they failed.
Obviously, there’s simply too much money around. Between PPP and the Boomers’ savings, there’s more money out there looking for an ROI than there are actual, viable businesses. And don’t get me started on SPACs. But a lot of businesses get funded that shouldn’t. And a lot of them fail.
Potentially, and potentially pretty soon, there won’t be any money left for you to inherit.
But, more likely, you’ll keep going from failure to failure until the bubble bursts, and no one will invest in another tech start-up, like what happened in the nineties. Then where will you be?
Oh, yeah, you’ll live on the gig economy.
But, then, you already know: that’s just another con.
OK, so let’s get back to what happened, and how your generation got screwed. In my view, and you can choose to agree with this theory or not – but there were basically two major events that led to the mess we’re in.
First, Jimmy Carter, instead of kicking some ass when OPEC jacked up the price of oil, told everyone to just put on a sweater. And when a bunch of Iranian terrorists took over the American Embassy, instead of kicking some ass, he told everyone to just be patient.
And so, in 1980, we got Ronald Reagan.
Now, I don’t care what you think of his politics, or if you’re a conservative or a liberal. I think we can agree that Ronald Reagan was bought and paid for by big business.
• To wit: In spite of the fact that he had been the President of the Screen Actors Guild, mere months after taking office, he fired the entire membership of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, who had the temerity of going on strike for better pay.
• But just remember, this is a guy who was a paid spokesman for General Electric.
Now, why does this matter?
Well, back then, there was a big debate over the social responsibility of corporations.
• On the one hand were people who said that corporations should only be accountable to their shareholders.
• On the other hand were people who said that corporations should be accountable to their workers, their communities, and government regulators, in addition to their shareholders.
Guess which type of people Reagan put into positions of power? And, by the way, Bush and Clinton went down that same path.
• And that how we got Section 230 of the Communications Act – which relieves Internet platforms of any accountability for the content they host.
• And you get Citizens United, which basically says that a fictional creation of the government – which is what a corporation actually is – can influence, through virtually unlimited campaign contributions the very government put in place to regulate it.
Again, I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, or you’re completely apolitical. The fact is that, as a result of these two events – and, admittedly, there are a few other factors goosing this thing along - wealth is flowing into big corporations, and up to their leaders.
And there is no practical check on their power.
But this is why what was created as a digital, Worldwide forum for free expression – the Internet – has devolved into an automated conflict generator. Because businesses have figured out how to use it to monetize human nature – in particular, through tribalization and conflict.
Anyway, I’m just a marketing guy. So what does this have to do with marketing?
Simply put, with the early Web, publishers used the Internet as if it was cost-reduced advertising space. They could say what they wanted, of course, but it was a collaborative medium where publishers were ultimately accountable for what they published.
With Web 2.0, however, anything goes. And it’s not collaboration that rules, but conflict. And the more conflict you can generate, especially if you can tribalize your audience, the more money you’ll make.
I’ll tell you another quick story.
Would you like to know why people are so fat today?
You’ll hear a lot about people eating too much McDonalds, or people being too lazy to exercise. But here’s what really happened.
Back in the 1970s, the US government used to pay farmers to grow corn – to keep the farmers from going bankrupt because of weather fluctuations, or commodity prices. And as a result, there was a LOT of corn sitting around on farms, in silos, and warehouses around the country.
At the same time, the price of sugar was going through the roof because source countries like Brazil, Thailand and Mexico had a bit of political instability, mostly because of Communist insurgencies.
It turns out that company named CPC International, which made things like corn syrup and mayonnaise, had over-invested in this corn – and they needed a way to get rid of it. A lot of it. And fast.
So they asked a team of us graduate students at Rutgers Business School if we would do a survey, and see if we could find any food manufacturers who would be interested in using CPS’s High Fructose Corn Syrup – a sweetener you can make really cheaply out of excess corn.
It was like, one-fifth of the price of sugar back then.
So we went to the large commercial bakers, folks like Wonder Bread, but they didn’t want to risk their sensitive production process just to save a few bucks on ingredients.
And then we went to the candy companies, like Hershey’s, but they didn’t want to risk the quality of their product when they could just easily adjust the price in response to commodity costs.
So then we went to the soda manufacturers – for whom the cost of sugar was an enormous expense. And its varying availability often limited production, and their ability to grow.
And they said “we’ll take all we can get.”
And the price of making a can of soda dropped by like 80%.
Basically, they were able to cut the cost of their most expensive ingredient by 80%, and gain access to an almost unlimited supply of sweetener - and then shove the stuff down people’s throats, with government support!
And that’s why people are so fat today.
OK. I get it. I’m a baby boomer. But let me see if I can establish a little bit of credibility with you, and tell you why I’m here. And maybe we can do something useful together.
First, my interest is in helping you be successful, which hopefully you’ll come to believe as we go along.
Anyway, most likely, you’re young. You want to have a career. You want to make money. And my goal is to help you do that. But I get that you think, or rather, you probably know, that we – the baby boomer generation - screwed things up for you. And you’re absolutely right.
We screwed up the climate. We screwed up the economy. And we’re spending your inheritance.
So, I’m going to talk a little about how that happened, and what you can do about it. Because you can be successful. You just can’t do it by falling for the con job that’s going on around you - some of which is admittedly being perpetrated by my generation.
Some of it’s on you. But the reality is that a lot of it is on people like me.
So here we go.
By way of background, I’ve been in sales and marketing for more than 40 years. I started out in sales, though, after getting my MBA back in the 70s in marketing by working for a software company that had just been spun off by IBM.
I went there because they offered some of the best sales training in the world. And I figure that, if I could combine an understanding of how sales worked, with what I learned in school about how marketing worked, I could shortcut some of the typical 20 years of experience needed to work in strategic planning – which is where I really wanted to be.
Anyway, I eventually wound up at a company called Western Electric, which was the manufacturing division of the old Bell System (the telephone company) – in my ideal job: strategic planning, where my job was to figure out which cool technologies that were being invented at Bell Labs should be funded and commercialized.
And that’s where the story starts to get interesting.
Back then, everything – including things like the telephone, TV and radio - was analog. But some folks at Bell Labs were working on digital technologies, like fiber optics, multiplexers, and digital switching that had the potential to revolutionize these industries by driving down costs, and enabling a whole new thing called “applications”.
And one of the things that I got to do was to conduct the very first market research that justified developing these technologies.
And if I could find a market, I then had to try to convince the higher-ups that they ought to incorporate it into the network.
That worked out, with the help of a bunch of other people, of course, and that’s why we now have things like ISDN, Local Area Networks, On Demand video, broadband, the Internet, and a bunch of other technologies that arguably makes our lives better.
What you should know about this, though, is that what these technologies did to make our lives better – specifically by driving down the cost of information – is the same thing that also makes our lives worse.
This is because, when information is so cheap, a lot of garbage rises to the top.
Are you looking for a little brain teaser?
Enjoy today's moderately hard puzzle.
We published these a few years ago, and we thought you might enjoy a little diversion from the crazinesss - errors and all.
If this gets some traffic, we'll make some more - and hopefully better - puzzles soon.
In the meantime, if you need help with any aspect of your Sales or Marketing program, call us!