I am not a suspect

Children of the RevolutionNo this is not a follow up to our previous blog about someone plagiarizing our material. It is our initial thoughts on a recent HubSpot Inbound Marketing Workshop we attended.

The Customer Manifesto

We (the Children of the Social Media Revolution) are no longer passive recipients of brand messages. We do not want you to ‘spread your content as widely as possible’ (as advised during the workshop). This will simply add to the volume of marketing noise that is already beginning to deafen us.

We are not sales suspects, prospects or leads. We do not wish to be driven to your web site. We will decide what information we wish to access, when and where. We are all happy with our religious beliefs, or none. Please do not try to convert us.

We do not wish to be put at the top of your sales funnel with the ‘flood’ of other suspects (your words); analysed to decide if we ‘fit’ your criteria as a prospect; then targeted. The next step to targeting someone is to shoot them and that would make us a little bit nervous dealing with your company in case we complained.

Power Shift

Power Shift

We are none of the above. We are people and want to be treated as individuals. In fact, ‘WE ARE THE PEOPLE’! We are your customers and we are King! Social media has empowered us. We control the Information Age. Welcome to our world, not yours.

We base our purchasing decisions on recommendations made by our trusted online network of friends/business associates. We no longer listen to or trust brand messages so stop talking AT us, telling us how good you are. We don’t care! Talk with us instead.

Please stop trying to spread ‘your word’ as widely as possible. It would not be in your interest to interrupt our conversations with sales messages. As Michael Stelzner (founder of Social Media Examiner) would say, ‘social and selling just don’t mix’. Please never underestimate or try to abuse the power of our networks.

Customer Experience

Customer Experience

Instead of trying to ‘spread your content as widely as possible’, what you should be doing is to use social media to deliver exceptional customer experiences at all stages of our journey with your company, including after sales service. That way you might just differentiate yourself from the noise, keep our loyalty and build an ongoing relationship. By doing so, we will buy more and you will maximise the life-time value of having a relationship with us; while at the same time erecting barriers that will stop us running to your competitors.

You see, we are not stupid people. We understand these things. We know that the longer you can keep us, the more profitable we become to your company. That gives us even more power. All we ask is that you treat us as people, spend more of your time and resource looking after us. Emotionally connect with us. Danny Brown’s ‘proud, stubborn Granda’ frae Edinburgh understood that and he wasn’t even a child of the social media revolution.

Don’t try to become ‘mini publishers’ as advised during the workshop. That will divert too much of your attention and resource away from doing what you should be doing – keeping us happy, very happy.

Build your organisation around us, your customers – especially your ‘Most Valuable’ and ‘Most Growable’ customers. After all, 20% of us generate 80% of your profits. You don’t want to lose us; so why spend so much time ‘spreading the word’, ‘flooding your sales funnel’ with low value, low growth potential customers that add little profit?

Provide us with an exceptional customer experience, especially at key ‘Moments of Truth’. That way you will emotionally connect with us, we will stay with you and become unpaid brand advocates of your company. We will spread your brand message for you around our own networks. They will listen and believe us more than they do you.

Flock Off

Flock Off

Please try to become an ‘Outside In’ (truly customer led company) rather than an Inbound Marketing company. The more time you spend ‘spreading the message’ the less time you are spending with us. Stop trying to drive us like a flock of passive sheep to your web site or blog. As Grandpa Brown’s grandson would say, we are likely to tell you to flock off.

Just to prove that we really are very intelligent people, we read books too. The fundamental problem with Inbound Marketing is that the core underlying premise is wrong. The first sentence of the book handed out as a workshop freebie states that ‘the fundamental task of marketers is to spread the word about their products and services in order to get people to buy them’. That might have been true 50 years ago but we are the Children of the Revolution.

In a social media era where we have the power, the fundamental task of marketers is to leverage the full potential of social media for delivering exceptional customer experiences, building sustained, long-term customer relationships, especially with high value, high growth potential customers.

Please create beautiful music rather than more noise.

As usual, comment and feedback more than welcome.


We, the Children of the Revolution


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  1. Kirsten Knipp
    June 21, 2011 at 2:12 am

    Hi Jim,

    I think your passion is fantastic and I fear perhaps I miscommunicated part of the point during my Inbound Marketing talk in Glasgow – in fact, I don’t intend to suggest that marketers spam you with useless content – rather, I suggest that they understand ‘you’ or their target audience, your pains and create content that is valuable, helpful & dare I say ‘remarkable’. In theory, if you are a consumer wanting to build a pool, then a list of the ten questions to ask your pool installer would probably be considered valuable, not spammy – especially if you found it via search or as a response to a Facebook post about researching your new pool.

    Later in the day (not sure if you were able to stick around), we did a workshop that started out with Persona creation. It’s true – a marketer cannot know every customer 1:1 unless they sell a very expensive product to a very niche market … but a marketer, a customer service rep or even a developer CAN do their best to get into the hearts and minds of their customers to help them SOLVE problems. Will we always get it right – probably not. But, if we try our best to understand, listen and engage with several of our prospects and customers, we have a good shot at providing a much larger group of them with fantastic content, products and services.

    Ultimately, all consumers will vote with their feet, dollars and social capital. So – if we marketers fail and produce mediocre spamminess – then, shame on us.

  2. Dr Jim Hamill
    June 21, 2011 at 7:50 am


    Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to our post. This is very much appreciated. Busy day today with workshops etc so will reply with some thoughts tonight/tomorrow. Have a nice day and take care.

    Jim H

  3. Dr Jim Hamill
    June 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Again Kirsten, thanks for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to reply……much appreciated.

    The ‘passion’ you refer to derives from my 30yr career in this area and I consider myself to be very fortunate that I am still passionate about what I do so thanks for noticing 🙂

    I don’t think you did ‘miscommunicate part of the point’ during Friday’s workshop. The importance of producing ‘quality’ content was very well made indeed and came across loud and clear i.e. content that delivers value to your audience helping them to overcome pain points. As someone well known for advocating a ‘customer led’ approach to e-marketing since 1997, it would be difficult for me to disagree with that.

    Yes I did stay for the afternoon ‘persona’ session and found it interesting. Again this is an approach to e-marketing we have been advocating for over a decade i.e. put yourself in the shoes of your customers; think from the ‘outside-in’ rather than from the ‘inside out’ etc. It’s amazing how differently you think when you stop trying to talk AT people.

    So my concerns were not so much with the above but with the underlying premise that great content provides a differentiating advantage. I see great content as a ‘table stake’ – in other words, it is a necessary but not sufficient condition for sustained business growth and profitability. The thing that really makes a difference is delivering exceptional customer experiences at key ‘Moments of Truth’, especially to your high value, high growth, high profit potential customers i.e. the 20% of customers who generate 80% of your profits.

    By encouraging companies to become ‘mini media’ organisations (not sure you used these words yourself but someone did), there is a real danger that this will divert limited resources away from using social media to enhance the customer experience at all stages of the customer journey.

    We plan on posting up a few articles on this over the next few weeks and would be more than happy to receive comments and feedback.

    I did find the workshop on Friday to be very interesting and yes a lot of good advice was offered. However, some of the terminology used sits very uneasily with me as I tried to explain in the previous ‘I am not a suspect’ post.

    Please do not misunderstand what I was trying to get across in this post. I did enjoy your presentation on Friday and there are many aspects of Inbound Marketing that hit the right buttons for me. However, the workshop was promoted as a ‘Winning Through Innovation’ event. As someone who has been ‘preaching’ the need for a customer led approach for over a decade I felt that many of the ideas being discussed were not innovative enough – especially in an era where customers have the power. This probably requires a more radical ‘outside-in’ customer led approach to social media. We will explain our thoughts on this over the next week or so.

    Take care and I look forward to future discussions – it’s good to chat. Hope you enjoyed your visit to Scotland.

    Take care

    Jim H
    Ps – it wouldn’t matter how great your pool installer’s content is, he/she would have a real problem selling anything in Glasgow just now… it’s yet another damp, cold, wet day here 🙂

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