Cargo Cult Inbound Marketing

Sep 10, 2013 10:35:00 AM

Cargo Cult Inbound MarketingIn 1974, one of the people I find so fascinating, Richard Feynman, gave the commencement speech at Caltech. For those of you who don’t know Richard Feynman, let me just say he was a PhD Physicist that taught at Caltech, worked on the Manhattan Project during WWII and won the Nobel Prize in Physics. He also made the brilliant explanations from the panel during the Challenger Space Shuttle investigation.

Enough said. Here is the portion that I love:

“I think the educational and psychological studies I mentioned are examples of what I would like to call cargo cult science. In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they've arranged to imitate things like runways, to put out fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas--he's the controller--and they wait for the airplanes to land.

They're doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land.

Now it behooves me, of course, to tell you what they're missing. But it would be just about as difficult to explain to the South Sea Islanders how they have to arrange things so that they get some wealth in their system. It is not something simple like telling them how to improve the shapes of the earphones. But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in cargo cult science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school--we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation.”

Richard Feynman - 1974 California Institute of Technology Commencement Address

Inbound Marketing Effectiveness

I think that there are many cargo cult marketers out there. They talk about Inbound as a function of your website. They suggest that you blog. They encourage you use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and maybe even Pinterest. They seem to have the “diagram” down pat. A very efficient marketing plan and effort that they promise will yield great ROI and a conversion rate of 6% or better. But it just doesn’t work. It just doesn’t give the return on investment; have the conversions rates you expected. Why? It’s just “cargo cult” marketing. It looks right, It may even feel right but it isn’t. They are missing the key ingredient to insure it works.

Inbound marketing requires a tool that consolidates, tracks, measures and reports on a minute by minute basis what is happening in your marketing. It also requires a global view of your inbound system to make sure that remarkable content is created, content matches channels and that there is a linear process to move your “guests” to customers. (See HubSpot's white paper entitled The State of Inbound Marketing 2013)

It’s Not Enough to “Do” Inbound

To see real results, you need to deeply commit to the model and optimize continually. Marketers that succeed with inbound marketing dedicate a high level of time, commitment, and resources to getting it right. Inbound marketing is not a quick-fix, nor will your company succeed at inbound by hiring an “inbound expert” and sitting them next to your email, trade show, and website staff member.

Successful inbound execution requires a strategic change in how you focus your end-to-end marketing practices, such as building and staying true to your core customer personas and relentlessly tracking your lead gen goals. 
This dedication produces dramatic results. Seventy-nine percent of companies who have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing this year, compared with just 20% of those companies that do not have a blog. In fact, 82% of marketers who blog on a daily basis acquired a customer using their blog, as opposed to 57% of marketers who just blog monthly – still an impressive statistic!”

Let’s form a new cult, a cult that honors this process and creates marketing that people love.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, sales and marketing, Blogging