As you may have guessed, the terms “inbound marketing” and “outbound marketing” represent two opposite approaches to creating and dispersing your message. Outbound marketing describes a strategy mainly driven by pushing that message out, with less emphasis on how it is said or who it is reaching. You might also refer to it as traditional marketing, and it includes print advertisements, e-newsletter blasts and online advertisements such as banner ads.
Inbound strategies, on the other hand, rely on drawing the audience in. The focus when creating an inbound marketing strategy is largely on who your audience is and what they really want. This knowledge is then used to inform your campaign, from what you are saying to where you are saying it. Typically, inbound marketing utilizes content that offers the audience something they find valuable.
Out with the Old, In with the New
The sun seems to be setting on many of the traditional outbound tools, at least when used without any inbound strategy to back them up. Gone are the days of door-to-door sales and cold calling, and it comes as no surprise when you think about how easy it is to block, scroll by or ignore advertisements. Today, the idea of someone coming directly to our front door to peddle a product seems antiquated and even invasive.
As advertisers realized the old methods were beginning to fade into the background as white noise in our media-savvy and saturated world, they began to shift their focus toward understanding their audience. What were they looking for? What questions were they asking? Where were they spending their time?
Inbound marketing keeps these questions at the center of the strategy with results that speak to their effectiveness. And while it can seem like inbound marketing is relatively young compared to its counterpart, the truth is people have been creating innovative content to gain leads for centuries. From Tiffany’s Blue Book, first published in the 19th century, to the Michelin guide, many companies have known that providing valuable information only helps to increase reputation, as well as audience trust and loyalty.
It is the integration of social media sharing, SEO and e-newsletters in recent years that have made inbound marketing with content more accessible than ever, and made it necessary for us to give it a name. Outbound marketing is still being used, but typically in conjunction with its inbound counterpart.
Inbound, Outbound, and You
Through articles in industry publications, blogs with SEO optimization, and everything from videos to webinars to infographics all shared on social media, you can use content to advertise while also building your brand. This can then lead to a potential client subscribing to a newsletter or mailing list, or actively following your accounts. Suddenly you do not have to worry about finding that customer among the crowd anymore: they are already listening, and they are happy to hear from you.
Many companies utilize both strategies, with outbound marketing to reach wider audiences and inbound marketing to reinforce their marketing funnel and create stronger relationships. It may be that finding the right combination of both is the secret to an effective campaign. Of course you want to be seen, but it requires more than that, especially for smaller businesses and startups. It is about being actually listened to and actively sought out, so when they do see you, your audience keeps looking long enough to understand what makes you stand apart.
Steven Hicks is the director of business development for SCB Marketing, which includes
i4 Business, SpaceCoast Business and SpaceCoast Living. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (321) 626-1366. You can also message him through our Facebook pages.