You know, how marketing jargon pops up all over the place and has people confused? Here is the solution…
For starters, consider these terms:
– demand generation
– inbound marketing
– dark social
They spur all this debate on what they mean and what they don’t… but in the end, people get lost and miss the point, because they’re looking for an exact and undebatable definition.
And it’s not their fault!
Because: in school, we were taught concepts that have been around for hundreds/thousands of years.
We were rewarded based on our ability to precisely recite the definitions and meanings of terms.
Then, we stepped into life, where things just don’t always work that way.
Because marketing is not an exact science, it has a side that’s more like experimental art.
New things, new terms, and concepts are in flux and constant change, and there is little consensus around their meanings.
Spoiler: there is not going to be consensus around new concepts for a while – because that’s how new concepts work… the world has to test, try, twist and break them… and then slowly, they gravitate into place and a consensus around their meaning emerges.
(Many concepts never live to see that day, they fade or get merged or change names.)
Don’t expect unanimously accepted definitions of ABM, demand gen and other terms in our trade to surface anytime soon.
And more importantly: learn to be OK with this!
Okay, but what to do? What’s a fruitful stance to take in these debates?
I try to focus on the new perspectives they bring to the table.
In my opinion, “inbound marketing” was 95% a renaming of “pull marketing” – a term that has existed since pre-internet times.
But the additional 5% that Hubspot brought to the table was huge: they not only gave you a new name for something old, but inbound encompassed a mindset, a strategy that you could build a company and a community on.
Take account-based marketing (ABM): people argue that ABM has been around ever since cavemen started trading fur and berries… and they’re right!
What gets missed is that with the term ABM (who exactly coined it is also up for debate) the innovators also introduced frameworks and playbooks that attempted to systemize marketing practices that targeted individual accounts and tried to align it with sales.
That’s a big and novel attempt and an important innovation if you ask me. It is THE point.
Demand generation: it feels like it’s been around forever… but what’s the new perspective/innovation it brings to the table?
Before there was marketing (pre 1950s), it was advertisers who did our job… you’ll find they aimed to build awareness, interest and desire.
If you put a pull/inbound spin on this and apply it to every stage of the funnel, you get what we call “demand generation”. However, I do not see what else the new/improved perspective that this term brings to the table.