Just send me some advice.
– Charlie Brown, asking an advice columnist for “advice”
Somehow this classic Peanuts comic strip I read as a kid came to mind when I came across this question from the Inbound Marketing group on LinkedIn:
What is your one “Inbound Marketing” tip for 2010. And it can’t be “hire me.” If you bumped into someone in a lift and they asked for one inbound marketing tip what would it be?
Perhaps I read into this type of question too much, but I found the question to have an unappealingly vague “just give me some (marketing) advice” ring to it, a la Charlie Brown.
I was also reminded me of the old trick interview question, “Can you tell me a story?” The “correct answer” the interviewer is looking for is for the interviewee to qualify the question: “What kind of story are you interested in?” as opposed to launching into a “It was a dark and stormy night” tale!
Just as Charlie Brown would have benefited from qualifying his own need for “advice,” if a marketer was asked for “one inbound marketing tip, the “correct answer” would be more questions…
Person in the lift, aka elevator: “What is the one inbound marketing tip you can give me?”
You: “Is there a certain aspect of your inbound marketing you’re looking to improve upon?”
Person: “Well, yes…I’m not engaging enough visitors on my website.”
You: “What do you mean?”
Person: “Well, I’d like to get more online registrations for our webinars and our other content…”
And now there’s a good chance you can offer an inbound marketing tip that actually addresses that person’s needs.
In keeping with my theme of answering the “give me one inbound marketing tip” question with further questions, the responses posted on LinkedIn that really rang true were those that simply emphasized listening and understanding. Of those, the response posted by product management executive Gopal Shenoy, who also happens to be a former colleague from the Boston Product Management Association board of directors, summed it up especially well:
Stop talking and start listening. Listen to your prospects, customers, partners and respond by doing what they are asking to do. Everything else (revenues, profits, content strategy etc.) will fall into place if you just listen to these constituencies and then start delivering what these want from you.