Pardon The Interruption
Yes, folks – you guessed it - you heard me right…YOWZER YOWZER YOWZER. Interrupt Marketing is back. This time it’s new and improved, with all new duds. It's cool, chill, respectable, relevant and above all its digital.
With the rise of the internet and digital marketing we saw the apparent demise of other methods of lead generation that were labeled "interrupt marketing." This description was essentially leveled at telemarketing as the biggest interrupter of the otherwise innocent "decision maker" working diligently away only to be "interrupted" by some overzealous, under-skilled telemarketer. A hammer for which everything appeared a nail. The fashionable theory of the day went that by provisioning "content" out there in the ether, people would find this content in their natural journey when researching problems and solutions. They would then digest the content, hence recognizing your credibility and relevance and draw the conclusion that YOU can provide the solution they need. The biggest pusher of this narrative at the time was HubSpot plus all other content producers. This was seen as the more natural "method." It followed a flow that did not include any rude interruptions to the orderly process of the prospect's logical journey. However, it appears that maybe this approach was not the "cure-all" everyone believed.
So, its time to dust off the old faithful interrupt marketing, which returns in a new form, with the three characteristics necessary to be genuinely unoriginal:
Like all good "old wine in a new bottle," it has a new label - some people now call it "discoverability marketing" (that's a winner)
It is part of a higher category - it's got a supporting role in that famous remake movie – ABM
It's presented in the form of the latest technology, in that it's digital.
What it isn't, of course, is "new." It's true that its form has changed. It now takes the form of the "ads" that pop up and follow you around the internet. However, they're digital which means they're smart and therefore have earned the status of professional respectability. You should, thus, be doing the same otherwise you will be judged to be a Marketing Heretic and be burned on the Bonfire of Best Practices or cast into the Pit of Marketing Misery, (except that burning people on bonfires or casting them into pits is not OSHA compliant, so probably not).
Outbound, Inbound, Interrupt and Permission – Dogs and Cats Living Together?
As we said, the best example of "Interrupt" (or outbound) was (is) telemarketing or voice. Outbound became seen as an assault on the senses with its unsolicited calls and emails. The rise of the internet enabled people to do their research, also changing the need for outbound. Outbound was finally marginalized, and its reputation was further shredded in the offshore movement. Combine this with the tidal wave of emails and the "buyer's" patience had run out. They shut down and simply stopped responding.
Inbound (Content Marketing) was also more democratic, as the prospect gets to choose where and when to engage (or not). Now that's as American as Freedom and Apple Pie. It also implies "divining intent." In other words, you know why the suspect is searching, making you immediately relevant. No leap of logic there – right?
Cognition's Tim Witcherley describes it as "Permission-Based Marketing which is customer-centric, meaning the customer is an active participant in generating the marketing message and not simply a passive recipient. Where interruption methods are expensive and largely ineffective, permission-based marketing makes marketing measurable and accountable. The key difference between interruption marketing and modern marketing methods is the degree of knowledge companies have about buyer behavior." There you see. He's "divining intent" again. You can always rely on the Brits to make it high brow and stuffy, and in this case largely irrelevant. Customers are rarely an "active participant in generating the marketing message" (at least not knowingly) making the description an idyllic fiction. Meanwhile back on planet earth….
Silent but Deadly
However, no reason to panic. Amidst all the confusion, Inbound would save the day, as Hubspot assured us over and over…" create valuable content, engage in a conversation with your audience, and measure all your marketing efforts to improve your marketing effectiveness constantly." You see, according to Hubspot, Inbound marketing was good for your mental health. Inbound encouraged trust (wait….what?) NOT anxiety, as interrupt marketing did. Hold the phones… didn’t he same thing happen in the outbound market? Inbound advocated the provision of relevant content for prospects to digest and then call you up…right? Mass production of content took off, and as companies willingly traded honesty for compulsion, prospects became overwhelmed as the volume of material grew, but the truth dwindled. The well was poisoned once more, with this betrayal of trust.
Are you Being Served?
So the new interrupt isn't the phone ringing on your desk, it's the ads that follow you around the internet. Being as our "normal" behavior now includes a huge amount of time on the internet (24 hour s a week According to the MIT Tech Review from January of 2018) that's where we're now getting "interrupted." Specific display ad platforms can follow you based on your email address (like the one you used in LinkedIn)…hmmmm that's funny how did they get that? Alternatively, maybe it's your Gmail address….hmmmm how did they get that? We might be curious and even a little perturbed by this, but few of us will be outraged enough to shut down our Gmail or Facebook accounts. Again, we'll prove that we're prepared to trade privacy for convenience, while simultaneously grumbling through the froth of some designer, artisan brew about the corruption of privacy.
The Verto Verdict
So, what's this got to do with the Verto business of providing sales and marketing consulting and advice to B2B companies? We use the analogy of gaps. Gaps between business owners and executives, plans and strategies, strategies and tactics, sales and marketing. It's our job to spot these behavioral and organizational gaps and bridge them. The gaps in the thinking here are:
First is that you can divine someone's intentions by their internet browsing activities (or digital body language) and draw a definitive conclusion. "For many marketers, the consumer is now a faceless, theoretical abstract construct," according to Martin Weigel in his highly recommended Canalside View Blog. We've put our faith in the reduction of marketing to an exclusively engineering process spewing out a series of numbers while at the same time publicly championing the belief that it's now PtoP, where everything must be personalized.
Second, trust has been squandered (again) by the deluge of thoughtless content, such that people are under siege with an excess of noise and information most of which is NOT relevant, and the rest cannot be trusted. This is the downside of MarTech - it's easier to produce more rubbish and just 'cos you can, doesn't mean you should.
Third, is that most marketing has always been and, while it continually evolves, will require a component of “interrupt”, irrespective of the disguise it wears as a result of chic current thinking. Again, we are acting with "incomplete" information, although it's unfashionable to admit this. You will have NOT fully divined the intent of your suspect and until we can read people’s minds (I’m sure it’s coming) you will not be perfectly aligned with them. If you work to minimize this, that's good enough. However, you need to be honest in setting expectations with your peers and bosses; otherwise, you'll be the thing that's "outbound."
We must still decide where to invest our dollars and efforts while we await the breakthrough in "marketing mind reading". It's between making it easy for the prospect to find us (Inbound), OR for us to find them; (Outbound). Can you take the risk of going with one OR the other? This is the essence of the difference between "Inbound and Outbound." The Verto Verdict is that you have to find balance in both and while that requires research, data, and process, it also requires thought, judgement and some good old fashioned chutzpa.