I keep coming across the terms “inbound/outbound marketing.” Apparently, I’m not the only one. Out of curiosity I shot out a Facebook question to my business community asking how many people knew what that meant. Apparently not a whole lot and it’s understandable why.
We’re constantly being bombarded in all direction by what’s ‘in’ for business. It’s hard to keep up with the developments let alone the right terminology. I think this warrants a quick inbound/outbound marketing 101.
Outbound marketing is known as the ‘old way’ of doing things, including using billboards, TV ads, telemarketing, sales people, direct mail, radio slots, paid print publishing advertisements. It’s not a completely irrelevant marketing strategy; it depends on what type of business you’re in. Even bigger business get seduced by the lure of television – but they forget that with Tivo most commercials are fast forwarded through.
New ‘digital media friendly’ ads are popping up. You’ll know what I mean when I remind you of all those annoying pop up ads that get in the way of you reading or watching what you want online. If you’re ignoring them by clicking out, so are others.
However, many small businesses can’t afford billboard ads and TV slots. But they can afford a one-off magazine ad in a local publication or a direct mail piece. The latter are highly ineffective and go mostly unread and tossed in the trash, since about 44% of all direct mail and junk publications get thrown away – especially around the holidays. As a result these smaller more affordable outbound marketing strategies end up costing you more in the short run – and with nothing to show for it. Be advised that this type of marketing requires repeat plugs, repeat appearances that are really expensive. And if you’re successful, someone remembers your name but they know nothing about you. There’s no customer relationship fostered and nothing offered that warrants someone to use your service over another. And here’s where inbound marketing really comes in…
Inbound marketing encompasses email marketing, blogging, social media, link building, gratis magazine articles that cater reader interests, podcasts and videos…it’s digital content catered to the community and leading the conversation. Inbound marketing strategies are the way to lead to viral marketing campaigns that get you noticed! And you get noticed “naturally,” as opposed to outbound’s “in your face” approach that in our community-driven era tends to turn off a lot of consumers by being too consumer oriented.
Inbound marketing’s best if you’re a smaller business or on a budget crunch, and especially if you want to set yourself as a field authority. It’s also a great tool for larger companies with a more flexible budget. They can use inbound marketing to test out a new product or service as a way of experimenting before deciding to pursue it further. They may even decide that select aspects of their business will exclusively be marketing through inbound methods.
This type of marketing also requires you to really understand your target audience. Understanding people has a lot to do with why inbound marketing has really grained traction, especially in the advent of increased digital media platforms. People want to be courted, they want to be understood and appealed to.
Inbound marketing is a slow train but gets you more passengers in the long run that will return for the ride. It takes time and commitment, so if you’re not a patient business owner and need results fast then consider employing some outbound strategies as well.