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The Inbound Revolutionary Road

Posted by Carole Mahoney on 9/12/13 8:00 AM

Being a total book nerd, I read approximately 8-10 books during my long summer days in Maine by the lake. 75% of these are non-fiction, which I realize makes me an even bigger nerd. The fact that the other 25% of the non-fiction that I read gives me some type of business insight makes me a freak, at least according to my husband. 

One of those fictional books this summer was "Revolutionary Road". It's a short but slow and depressing read. The story is of two young adults, Frank and April Wheeler, a couple who lived on the assumption that their greatness is just around the corner. But then they rationalized that kids got in the way, or work, and they never did what they said they always wanted to. It's heartbreaking when you realize that Frank and April end up in the mediocrity of the stereotypical American suburbs, betraying not only each other, but their best selves. Apparently it was made into a movie, and I ever feel the need for a total downer, I will put that on my list. 

There was one bright spot in the book that I highlighted when Frank is talking to the VP of Sales for the business machines company he works for in NYC. As they were discussing a new shift in their industry and a new branch of the company he was developing, the VP said to Frank; "Everything is selling. Nothing happens in this world, nothing comes into this world, until somebody makes a sale. Don't believe me- look at it this way. Where the hell do you think you be if your father had not sold your mother a bill of goods?" 

At the time I had highlighted it because it reminded me that just like marketing is everyone's job, so is selling. It doesn't matter if you are a start-up or a CEO, everyone has a responsibilty to connect and add value with the buyer.

I was reminded of the book quote after a recent Twitter exchange with a fellow rabble rouser where we tossed around whether or not a new word was needed for sales, because to some, sales is a dirty word like marketing is a fluffy word. 

The Internet is the road, Inbound is the revolutionary shift.

The internet has both disrupted and created new ways to communicate with each other. Because the internet has changed the way communicate, it is changing the way we think and how we gather and process information. How does this play out in the business world? Like a small town, transparency has become the culture of the internet.

For a while now, I have told people that inbound is about getting found by the right match. Marketing's job is to act as the matchmaker. Sales needs to be the courtier. Service is the marriage counselor for a long term relationship. Everyone is always selling to the buyer.

In the book Revolutionary Road, Frank and April gave up on being their best and most remarkable selves and their lives end in sad tragedy. So what is the correlation? 

To be found by the right match, date them, and keep them-you have to first be your best and most remarkable self. If you accept mediocrity in yourself, you can't expect the right match to be (and stay) attracted to that. The problem is not them, the internet, or anything outside of our own selves.

So if the value of a business is not determined by the shareholders, the CEO, or the investment company, but by its customers, then why do so many businesses measure success by the bottom line and not the individual human experience? To improve on the human experience, don't we first have to be better humans? 

Do you want to grow your business to improve your lifestyle, or the lives of others? Does your business succeed because you are a smart entrepreneur or because your customers make you a better business? Do you want your inbound marketing to succeed so you can sell more stuff, or because you truly think that this could help people in some way? Do you measure referral rates as closely as you measure new sales? 

The fail in the book Revolutionary Road was Frank and April's inability to see that they were better people because of the other person and that for that reason, they didn't feel the need to live up to that. Businesses that don't understand where their true value comes from do the same with their customers. Or as Rick put it, "When we become 'other-centered', we are more likely to step up our game for the person that we care about."

Topics: inbound marketing, inbound, inbound sales