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Outbound Marketing vs Inbound Marketing

convertinh your home pageRight now CMO’s are getting bombarded with all sorts of information around the hot topic of discussion. Inbound marketing. For those of you luck enough to have escaped the onslaught let me explain the idea of inbound marketing.

The idea is not new it’s just we now live in an environment where traditional ‘outbound’ marketing tactics are not always the best way to reach your target audience. And it’s true to say, that in a business context at leased, we are more likely to act on the advice or recommendations that we recieve from a peer. In fact, many of the Inbound marketing automations software firms create much of their interest from B2B CMO’s by suggesting that we are 80% more likely to respond to a message we receive from a peer than a company. That makes traditional marketing techniques pretty redundant right?

I’m not convinced Outbound marketing is done. Here’s why…

Firstly, we’re already starting to see an overload of ‘content marketeer’ publishing spam style content that badly researched and porrly presented to discussion groups on LinkedIn. Many high profile contributors are leaving platforms like twitter due to the large amount of self promotion cloaked as ‘discussion’ and ‘influencing behaviour’. Come on, CMO’s have the sharpest minds in the building they know when they’re being sold to.

Inbound marketing can only do so much. What was the saying… something about leading a horse to water? The idea of Inbound is to shell out huge amounts of money on a great looking water trough and see who comes. That sort of strategy get’s marketing managers fired. Where would you put your investment?

Inbound marketing platforms are great but they will not inspire your audience to connect with you. Process driven marketing departments are only half the story. You still need a unique brand message and one that’s going to set your target audience on fire with excitement. Creativity still plays a massively important role in the way a brand gets recognised, respected and responded to. If you continue to send out beige, bland messages that react rather than inspire, it won’t get shared, it won’t get read it will be a waste of time. So keep your companies vision paramount in all you distribute. Entertain to engage.

Inbound marketing can be costly. 3 years ago I was paying small change for a client on Google Adwords and getting a fair amount of traffic. Today I pay nearly five times as much; the competition is greater and Google still aren’t paying any corporation tax? Add to that the idea of ‘content market’. Here I struggle, I’ve been a long term advocate of SEO and content marketing as a means of driving traffic to your site. But as the web grew so did the SEO scams, which produced a plethera of bogus unworthy content on the web that somehow managed to get high page ranking. In recent months Google has created several updates designed to rid the world of high back linked naff sites and back door ranking, But it’s had a few casualties. Some of the good sites with great content have had their page ranking quashed. SEO remains an undefined channel despite what the ‘experts’ may say, the only people that really know what gets a high page rank is Google. So that makes it a risky investment. That said content (good content) can play a major part in advocating your brand, cementing your expertise and attracting your target audience to connect with you. To that end… keep writting, keep researching, keep commenting, keep active but don’t believe the SEO hype. Having worked with Google I’ve been reliably informed that if you’re persistant and you have content that people love and share… they’ll find you.

Inbound marketing relys on an accurate understanding of behavioural process. If you can nail your taregt markets buying cycle you can sit back and let your inbound marketing automation platform do the work for you. Here’s the problem.  I work with a number of SI’s who’s average solutions comes in at £500k, on average there’s over 6 key decision makers to each sale opportunity with very different mandates. It is impossible to understand and manage each touch point of a lead without getting it wrong, so why bother. If your brand message is strong, all encompassing, inspiring and energising it’s enough to make people curious and engage with you. And if you’re good, you’ll take the time to understands where everybody sits, what there potential objections are and devise ways you can over come them.

Inbound marketing is invasive. Ha! you thought outbound marketing was invasive but think about it. Google’s behaviourale banner campaigns are specifically designed to promote related advertisers based on what sites you’ve been on. Content marketing only exists because people congregate around common interest groups on social media, they don’t want the promotion of another white paper, they want answers to their professional issues from respected peers.

I know this sounds ‘bahumbug’ but I’m more that a little concerned that inbound marketing is starting to overshadow outbound techniques in terms of marketing investment. I’m not suggesting it should be done, I actually believe an inbound strategy should be part of any 2013 marketing plan but drop your outbound activity at your peril. Whilst inbound activity can drive site traffic, I’ve unfortunately seen a hugh amount of resources following up leads from unsuitable prospects and opportunities. So, in a B2B context, a well segmented target audience and outbound activities can still net a higher return for your marketing investment.

I recently ran a desk drop campaign (remember them!) we recieved an amazing response. Sometimes it’s nice to open a letter, whilst looking at what recruiters have view your LinkedIN profile!

Stick to your CRM, Invest in your blog, Syndicate with social platforms

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