"If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing."
Inbound marketing is a burgeoning area of marketing that focuses on attracting prospective customers online with valuable content, and then converting them into leads. Inbound marketing tactics include the use of blogs, social media, e-books, white papers, search engine optimization and webinars. In essence, inbound marketing is all about earning your prospect’s attention.
Outbound marketing includes the more expensive, traditional, interruptive marketing tactics, such as advertising, telemarketing, direct mail, spam email and trade shows.
David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” describes outbound marketing as where one must “buy, beg or bug their way in” to a prospect (via paid advertising, issuing press releases or paying commissioned sales people).
The reason for the growing success of inbound marketing and the decline of traditional outbound marketing is because of dramatic changes in the way people buy.
Because of technology, consumers are increasingly able to tune out marketing messages. Examples of the technology that enables consumers to avoid unwanted marketing messages include DVRs, caller ID, satellite radio, iPods, email spam filters, Internet ad popup blockers, RSS readers and “do not call” lists.
Just a few years ago, when a customer wanted product information, soon into their buying research they would need to contact the seller. Then, the buyer became a lead and the seller, who controlled most of the product information, could exert control over the sale.
Now, a buyer can thoroughly research your company or product online and avoid your sales person until they are ready to buy. An example is a car buyer who thoroughly researches her purchase (costs, options, car reviews) and might know more about the product than the salesman. The same applies to business-to-business sales.
As a result, marketers are finding traditional, outbound marketing to be increasingly less effective. A few points to consider:
In contrast, inbound marketing is on the rise, primarily because of its return on investment (ROI).
The inbound marketing process can be broken down into six steps:
Will outbound marketing go away? Probably not. But the power it has enjoyed for the last 75 years will continue to decline and be overshadowed by inbound marketing.
(This article originally appeared in Inside Business - The Hampton Roads Business Journal, on August 13, 2012.)