I grew up in Needham, Massachusetts, an adequately sized suburb of Boston that is a far cry from the middle of nowhere. Our neighboring town, Wellesley, was basically a better version of Needham. Same size, same people, same preppy overtone – if it wasn’t for Wellesley’s nicer downtown area, it was basically the same town. Heck, they even had the same number of Commuter Rail train stations with the town’s name in them: three (okay, Needham really had four, but I added that “with the town’s name in them” modifier to rule out Hersey Station). Why, then, on page 12 of a book I recently picked up from HubSpot, did I read the following?
Wellesley has one highway passing through it, no airport, no bus depot, and no train station.
Wellesley has no train station? I guess that’s accurate if you really want to play semantics here, because Wellesley has three train stations. I didn’t need to look that up – I’ve gotten on and off the train in Wellesley at all different points in my life. But I mean, if you did want to look that up, you can just type “Wellesley train station” into your friendly neighborhood search engine, and your first result (if you live in Massachusetts, at least) will show you the Commuter Rail line that runs through Wellesley, making three stops in town. See?
Yet, when I turn to page 12 of the book Inbound Marketing, written by the co-founders of marketing giant HubSpot, there’s that statement just staring back at me, saying, “No, Mike, you actually imagined taking that train to Wellesley, seeing the train pass through Wellesley, and those train tracks you thought you saw were actually just a town-long serious of incredibly well-spaced frost heaves.” Gotta say, they pose a compelling case here (in that they pose no case at all). There’s embellishment and exaggeration, and then there’s flat out lying. “I’ve heard that joke a thousand times” – that’s embellishing. “There are no train stations in Wellesley” – that’s lying. So why would you lie about that? What could possibly lead you to lie about something on page 12 of a book that you’re using as a promotional tool for your company in the city that’s 15 miles east of your lie?
Here’s a list of possibilities that led the authors to write this:
1) Someone told them Wellesley was a remote town. Here’s how this one must have gone down:
Author: Hey, I’m writing a book here, anyone know a town that’s impossible to get to?
Not-the-Author: Wellesley! Well, I guess “impossible” might not be the right word, but it might as well be! Then again, there’s a major highway, and another highway just outside, and then there’s three tra…
Author: Wellesley it is!
Sadly, this is the most logical option.
2) The authors have no idea what a remote town is. Just coming off a trip to Bowling Green, Ohio (yes, I willingly went to Bowling Green, Ohio, and I’ll gladly do it again), I got to see some parts of the country (i.e. western Pennsylvania and most of Ohio) that no human being in their right mind would ever want to occupy (did you know there’s a Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania? A nice little “oh God, please tell me we didn’t make a wrong turn” moment on the trip). A type of place like that would have been perfect for the point the authors were trying to get across here.* But no, they picked Wellesley. Wellesley, Massachusetts. A place that has a duck pond tucked into the center of town somewhere between Whole Foods and Talbots, so all its residents can get a real taste of wildlife. It’s basically Massachusetts’ own Atlantis.
*Have I even mentioned what that point is? Quick sidetrack – the authors are trying to explain that you want your website to be well-connected and accessible, much like there’s a plethora of ways to access New York City. You want your site to be like NYC, the authors say, not like Wellesley. Because, you know, having over 25 thousand residents, three train stations, a major highway, and being 15 miles away from the heart of one of the 25 largest cities in America is completely remote. I guess my entire post was just summarized in one snide footnote, but I urge you to keep wasting your company’s time and read on.
3) The Wellesley train stations were built after this book was written. I think my own testimonial should suffice to dispel this option. Just in case it doesn’t, the book was published in 2009, and the train stations were put together in 1885, 1889, and 1890. Well, we gave it a shot, didn’t we?
4) Despite being “experts” in search engine marketing, the co-founders of HubSpot don’t know how to use a search engine. This isn’t so much a possibility as it is, y’know, truth. Your company is meant to help people get their websites and online entities found when people type certain things into Google or one of the other search engines people still pretend exist. Another great use for search engines: fact-checking! Do you know how easy it is to fact-check using a search engine? Heck, in Google Chrome you can even just highlight the thing you don’t understand and right-click! You don’t even have to go to the search engine or type anything!
Being able to type a phrase into Google when I don’t understand it is the only thing that keeps me from being labeled a complete moron. I do it for e-mails, instant messages, message board posts, blog posts – really, any time I’m communicating through a computer. So if I was writing a book – a permanent, published, physical thing with my name smattered all over it – I have a strong feeling that I’d be fact-checking every single claim through a search engine. I worked as an entry-level caliber search engine marketer for one and a half years, so I know this isn’t rocket science for the co-founders of a company worth tens of millions of dollars ($29 million, according to the result that just popped up #1 for the search “HubSpot revenue” that I did – because I like facts and sources and stuff), that leans heavily on search engine marketing.
Alright, alright, it was a throw-away line in what I’m sure is a very useful book for some people. Inbound marketing strategy is a pretty huge deal for anyone dipping their toes into online marketing, and it’s something I take enjoyment in learning about and thinking on. Which is kind of why I’m so disappointed. I have this book here, staring back at me and saying, “Hey, I might have some good ideas for you! Just open me up anywhere after page 12, and we’ll pretend like this never happened.” I can’t pretend like it didn’t happen though. The authors lie about something completely inconsequential, and completely compromise their credibility in the process. And it wasn’t even for a good reason – whatever the actual reason, it boils down to just plain laziness.
Could it be that the subsequent 200 pages are incredibly valuable, truthful, and worthwhile? Absolutely. But I’ll never know the answer. I can’t get past page 12.