Great analogies for inbound marketing

Use these analogies to explain inbound marketing to convince your boss why you need inbound marketing for your company.


I spent some time with the Spitfire Inbound team and we had a great conversation about how they explain inbound marketing. It's amazing how vastly the analogies differed, but all followed the same theme. They likened inbound marketing to building a home, fishing and running a marathon, which all take time and patience. They’re also very rewarding in the long-term - just like inbound marketing.

If you believe that inbound marketing is the way of the future, but your boss is dragging their heels, this blog post will help give you some great analogies to convince them that your company needs to give inbound marketing a try.

Inbound marketing is like building your own home 

Alison Leishman, Head of Strategy at Spitfire Inbound thinks of inbound marketing as being remarkably similar to building a house.

There’s a difference between erecting a place to live, or building a home to last forever. 

Inbound marketing is like building a house.png
Image from Saivest

If you just want to build a place to live in you’ll buy a piece of land, get a pile of bricks and build a house.

It might fall over in a few years, but at least it was done quickly. But if you want to make your house last for 50-100 years or longer, you’ll plan it: find the right position on the land, consult an architect and look at future as well as immediate needs. And if you plan it well you’ll be able to have a big enough house for the baby that turned out to be twins; and you’ll be able to adjust and accommodate for the unplanned as the building progresses.

Inbound marketing is about making sure that your marketing ‘house’ is going to produce long-term results. It’s about building a solid foundation that won’t crack or leak or get infested with termites. Inbound marketing is about making sure that when your competitors start to take you on, you’re ready for them: you know what the gaps are between them and what quick fixes you can take, as well as the long-term strategies you’ve already put in place. Inbound marketing is about putting in the time, effort and energy first to know where your company wants to go, and how marketing is going to help you get there. And then it’s about delivering.

Inbound marketing is like landing the perfect trout 

CEO of Spitfire Inbound, Darren Leishman, loves fly-fishing, and thinks it makes a great analogy for inbound marketing. 

Inbound marketing is like landing the perfect trout.pngAmateur fly-fishermen (and women) will thrash around, disturb the water, and generally be loud and boisterous. By the time they get their fly in the water they’ll already have scared all the fish away. However, a highly skilled fly-fisherman will observe the water. They’ll notice if the fish are on or under the surface, they’ll know what kind of bugs are flying around that fish like to eat. They’ll pick the right time of day, and they’ll wait, patiently.

Inbound marketing is about doing the research right, first. It’s about making sure that, when you land the fly in the right place, your customer will be hooked. It’s about mimicking the action of an insect so that the fish wants to eat it. Then, once they bite, it’s about keeping them on the line for long enough to set the hook.

Inbound marketing is about knowing your customer as well as you know that fish, and about tantalising them with something they’re interested in, so they will bite, and be engaged enough for you to sell to them.

Inbound marketing is like an adventure race 

Sarah Mills, an inbound marketing consultant and avid runner, likens the practice of inbound marketing to running an adventure race.

INbound marketing is like running an adventure race.pngWhen professional sportspeople prepare for a race, they practice and practice and practice. They eat the right food, they wear the right shoes. They train: physically and mentally.

Inbound marketing requires the preparation, initially, but once you’re up and running, you know you’re in the zone, and you’re ready to face your competitors.

Inbound marketing isn’t a sprint – over in a few seconds. It also isn’t a marathon – time-consuming and painful. It’s more like an adventure race. It’s about teamwork, getting a little bit mucky along the way, learning lots of ways of getting over obstacles, becoming really good at a few different tactics, learning (really quickly) to adapt, and about the speed, strength and endurance that combines the talents of both sprinters and marathon racers.

There is one thing that inbound marketing does, though, that combines all three of these running races: when it’s done right you’re focused on an end goal, prepared to put in the hard work, and you know that the rewards will be sweet. 

In summary:

  • Inbound marketing requires research
  • It demands patience
  • It needs preparation
  • It’s about building great foundations, and adapting as things change
  • It’s about enticing people to your product or service, and helping to keep them once the line until they’re hooked
  • It’s about understanding your prey (prospective customer)
  • And it’s about focus, dedication and – ultimately – very sweet rewards.

Want more helpful analogies,  or a way to convince your company that inbound is right for them? Get in touch!

Contact Spitfire Inbound

Gina Balarin is the founder of Verballistics and has many years of experience in marketing. She’s one of the guest-authors for Spitfire Inbound, and we just love her insights! If you'd like to get more content like this, subscribe to receive email updates from us

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