Marketing- The sword of the business genius and Achilles Heel of those who don’t get it right! Now, if you’re into marketing in some form or the other, you must have heard of the terms inbound and outbound marketing.
If you didn’t know already, there’s a major debate amongst experts with regard to the efficacy of inbound marketing over the outbound variety or even vice versa. Without taking sides or wading right into this classic argument, let’s take a look at these two marketing concepts and the key differences between them.
Think conventional advertising and jingles that we’ve seen all these years on TV or in the newspapers or heard on the radio or even strained our necks through the car window to see on billboards. Think cold calls and telemarketers tapping probably thousands of calls a day.
Yes, you’ve stumbled into outbound marketing territory!
This concept relies more on the push to the customer, one that gets him/her to buy a product/service by driving home the brand philosophy and that’s that! Yet, hasn’t a saturation point been reached? Problem is, most people these days have stopped paying attention to these ads and in fact, in some circles, they’re regarded not much relavent
There’s another inherent issue that’s cropped up nowadays and this can be best illustrated with an example- Think of a cold cream that’s targeted for a female-only audience between the ages of 20-60. Now imagine a scenario where the product reaches possibly 40% of this audience and the remaining 60% is made up of small children (risky) and males of varying ages (preposterous!). Get the drift?
Returns on your advertising dollars are steadily becoming harder from outbound advertising and this has a lot to do with the fact that these advertising mediums demand a king’s ransom for showcasing your product/service.
You might wonder at the Pied Piper parallel (assuming you’ve read the legend pertaining to the Pied Piper of Hamlin) but inbound marketing is something on those lines.
A pull strategy is used in this case to draw customers (you’re the Pied Piper) organically without bombarding them with ads or pushing them to buy something. This form of marketing gives something (mostly information) of value to the customer and gets him/her coming to the brand for more. This builds loyalty to a brand along with fostering superior engagement and helping you develop brand authority (rare in today’s opinionated times).
The key towards successful inbound marketing? Value-based and relevant content creation.
For a moment, put the push and pull of things aside; they’re no Yin and Yang. Inbound marketing, for one, is dependent on the creation of high-value content that draws potential customers and gets them interested in a brand and its products/services. The customers come to the company and this form of marketing is also reliant on modern technology including the internet, mobile devices and social media channels for developing, growing maintaining customer bases.
Particular target audiences are drawn to the company in lieu of instant information and something of value, i.e. knowledge and they are pulled towards the business. Key tools in this case would include blogging, paid and optimized advertising for specific searches, social media posts, mobile apps and many others.
So what’s the flow of communication like when it comes to inbound marketing? It’s always a two-way affair between the brand and customers and is not interfering while being cost-effective at the same time. Customers get instant value and superior engagement while the push strategies of outbound marketing do not generate value instantly for customers. Also, outbound marketing is a one-way affair without engagement, personalization or organic targeting of key audiences. Nowhere does outbound marketing also solve customer issues or address queries, something that is par for the course in case of inbound marketing initiatives.
As they always say, successful communication has to be a two-way street. No two ways about it!
Inbound Marketing? A big yes!
Outbound Marketing? A yes only if you’ve got vast pockets and still wish to push the general audience in a bid to shore up sales and publicity quickly.