I have to admit I’m a bit nervous. Over the last couple months I have been interviewing with companies to pursue opportunities (am sure you heard by now my company was acquired by Oracle and I am just not a fan of large corporate environments) and had the great pleasure of meeting all types of really smart people creating awesome technologies. But I started to notice something. A common denominator, if you will, that made me wonder if I would even find something that would be a good fit for me. Why? Because of this misnomer about ‘inbound marketing’.

What is Inbound Marketing?

The answer depends on who you ask. Some may claim that inbound marketing has to do with creating content, SEO and social media. May otherwise be referred to as organic or ‘free’ lead generation. Companies seriously think they can build a strategy around these things and nothing else. I know, I know, it’s been proven. Marcus Sheridan has a great case study on this one but I would hesitate to suggest it works for anyone and every company.

If you were to ask me to define inbound marketing, I would answer with something along the lines of this: marketing efforts that result in inbound traffic and leads to your company to reach corporate objectives. Im trying not to sound too gobbledygooky here with that one so let me try and sum it up better. It’s everything you need to do to build your database and expand your reach. This absolutely includes PR, social media, SEO but it also includes paid search, paid media, sponsored webinars and even events.

‘Free’ Marketing is Not a Strategy

If you have no budget and struggle to gain buy-in for paid media, you often resort to the free stuff. I’ve been there and done that and yes, I even got results. But..I got even better results and more volume and more pipeline revenues when I combined those organic inbound leads with paid media. For one thing, a major difference is the quality and the control. With paid media, you can decide what types of audience interact with your brand. You can match your target audience to better align your content and pull in better leads. And that means they score higher and faster and get to your sales team quicker. Sounds good to me.

Let’s not coin the term ‘inbound marketing’ as the free stuff marketers! Let’s decide this is all programs related to inbound activities – paid or not.

What do you think? Am I right or completely off on this one?