Though Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing seem like new concepts, we all experience both daily. One invites us in, while the other is a surprise visitor that may or may not be welcomed in.
Inbound Marketing is when customers or prospects opt-in to your Content Marketing and Digital Marketing efforts, through methods including sign-ups, social media, making calls to your company or giving permission for you to call them, and links found in search engines.
This is opposed to the interrupt provided by Outbound Marketing which uses traditional tactics like television and radio commercials, cold calls and telemarketing, print ads, mailers, e-blasts and trade show appearances.
Inbound Marketing is about allowing and engaging people who care. Outbound Marketing is about selling and promoting to prospects and customers.
Inbound Marketing involves creating content and community. Outbound Marketing involves purchasing time and interest.
Both involve cost to develop, but in general Inbound Marketing is less upfront investment.
The balance comes in the amount of time these efforts take to germinate: Outbound Marketing can reach more people in less time. From there, it’s a matter of determining how much of your message is cutting through to the percentage of audience that will move further into the sales process.
There is no right or wrong, and though it’s possible to use both, it’s not the most cost-effective way to market unless you have a competent team for each type. This is why for small businesses, the focus should definitely be on the one that gains you the most leverage. How to determine that comes from knowing who your current and ideal clients are, what you want them to do, and how much time and money you’re able to invest to get them there.
For example, if you specialize in Content Marketing (as Serious Vanity does), or are a Digital Marketer, a client may come to you for Inbound Marketing services after having success with Outbound Marketing like direct mail campaigns or television ads. But with a deep sigh they say, “Such and such told me I should be on Facebook.” If you aren’t in marketing, that client may sound a lot like you!
If they really aren’t sure how Inbound Marketing fits into their overall marketing plan, it may be your job to dig deeper into discovering their actual goals (or helping them form some), or, if you see that Inbound Marketing makes no sense for their organization, giving them permission to let it go. If you are that business owner, this may be an assessment you’re coming to on your own.
It’s okay! Just as there are many businesses for whom traditional Outbound Marketing strategies make no sense (would a graphic artist run a radio commercial?), not every client will be a candidate for Inbound Marketing. Don’t try to create a channel where it won’t serve the overall investment in effort and cash for the business.
But by picking the one that is the best avenue to reach prospects and customers, and focusing your best efforts in that area, you will be better seated to tackle the other if and when it is the right time, and your growth allows for the shared focus.