Advertising and Marketing has, from its inception, largely been about trying to get as many people to see your message in any way you can. Buying billboard space, bus ads, radio commercials, and newspaper copy. Creating TV commercials, buying space on taxi cabs and garbage cans... Telephone on-hold marketing... Basically any unused space can be sold to advertisers if A) it's big enough to hold a logo and a message, and B) it will garner enough eyes.
In order to explain Inbound Marketing, let's compare it to the advertising you already know:
This is called OUTBOUND advertising because it reaches out to seek people where they live, read, relax, play, or drive.
The very nature of outbound advertising is to be interruptive. In order for someone to digest outbound advertising, they are required to take time out of their day when they would normally be doing something else: listening to songs on the radio; watching their favorite television program; reading their favorite newspaper, or even taking a nice quiet drive through the country side. People are CONSTANTLY being bombarded with advertising of some kind. Buses, Signs, Windows, Newspaper, Television, Radio, Billboards, In the Air, Taxis, on hay bales, sky writing, tattoos, social media, google, websites, etc, etc, etc. It's enough to drive you batty.
Is Outbound Marketing effective?
Outbound marketing can be effective on a large scale, if done long and hard enough. To illustrate the effectiveness of a radio ad, think about how you consume radio. Driving along, enjoying your favorite music, and the inevitable commercial break comes along. Of course, you just expect commercials to happen, but they interrupt the music flow in order to pay for the station you’re listening to. Fair enough. So you hear 6 commercials before getting back into the music. When that break is over, how many commercials did you actually HEAR? Let’s say two catchy commercials aired, and you remember the jingle. Great! Of those two commercials, how many of them actually have a product or service you want or need right now? 1? None? Even if both of them make you an offer you can’t refuse, will you remember them well enough to call them or visit their website when you get home?
This ‘play and pray’ advertising depends entirely on repetition, what time of day the ads are airing, how many people are listening (morning show? Evening show?) and what they’re doing WHILE they’re listening.
And after all is said and done... You will get some attention, and you'll most likely gain some attention. But is for your hard earned dollar, do you have any quantifiable metrics to show whether you got that buyer from the radio ad? Can you manipulate your marketing based on actual results? What is your return on investment?
Advertisers need more.
That's where "Inbound" comes in.
Every company on the planet exists to solve some kind of problem in exchange for remuneration of some kind, and at any given time, there are X number of qualified people looking for solutions to that problem.
If you, as a company, want to find people actively searching for solutions to their problems, you need to present to them that you
- Know that they have a problem by identifying it,
- Identify a solution to that problem (by way of a particular service or product offering), and finally
- Convince them that YOU are the one to solve their problem for them.
Inbound Marketing seeks to attract people who are already LOOKING for a solution to a problem they have. Qualified buyer seeks product to make his or her life easier!
And you didn't need to interrupt their day with invasive marketing messages. They found you!
Through valuable content marketing campaigns, targeting specific content to specific people's needs, you can gain qualified leads (names, email addresses and phone numbers) in exchange for the information that they are asking. Effectively you can 'sell' your customer content they value for the low low price of an email address.
"Top 10 Reasons Why Your Workplace is Potentially Unsafe." posts the Safety Training company.
"The 7 Ways you can Save Your Backyard from the Perils of Pet Waste." posts the artificial lawn or landscaping company.
"5 Simple Things you can do to Lower your Risk of Heart Disease." posts the Health Food store.
"10 Signs That it may be Time for a Website Redesign" posts the web-design company.
"The 7 Best Ways to Ensure Your Dentist's Visit is Cavity Free" posts the dentist's office.
Over time, and with an accumulation of content marketing campaigns, your site will not only attract viewership, but will also rank higher in the search engines, bringing you in more qualified visitors looking for your product or service.
PROS and CONS of each
As with any kind of marketing, there is no all-in-one solution. Each solution has pros and cons and should be weighed against each other to determine whether either solution (or both) is right for you.
Low Maintenance - Once you design your campaign, you can get your ad on the radio, or on TV relatively easily. The marketing medium manages your campaign for you through the duration.
Targeted Audience - You can control the type of person who hears your advertising based on the medium itself, and geo-target by regionality of the medium.
Quick Results - Your ads start working as soon as the first one is published.
Costly - Depending on the medium, outbound advertising tactics can be quite costly
Results Can't be Measured Finely - While you can put an ad out to the masses, and with the right strategy, you can measure successful targets, it's impossible to know exactly how many people are consuming your ad, and how successful the ad compared to the total consumption.
Ads Stop Working at the End of the Campaign - As soon as your marketing dollars run out, the ads stop, and the old addage "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" comes into play. Your ads stop... so does your marketing.
Ads are intrusive - No one likes advertising, and outbound advertising is intrusive and interruptive.
More Budget Friendly - In a study done in 2012, it was determine that leads generated by Inbound Marketing tactics were 61% cheaper than leads generated by an outbound methodology.
Results are Ongoing - While outbound marketing stops working as soon as it ends, a 'Blog Post is Forever'. It will continue working for you, long after the dollar spent creating it is reclaimed.
Ads are Attractive - By sending the right message, you are attracting the exact clientele you want to sell your product to.
Takes more time to get results - Inbound Marketing DOES take time, and effort to get results.
Requires a content strategy - Work and commitment is involved in order for Inbound Marketing to work for you. Generating content that informes and nurtures your leads requires a creation and implementation strategy.
Can be Competitive - How easy it is to capture an audience depends on whether your competition is fighting for the same audience. Knowing your customer is key to speaking to them, and attracting them.
Has a high learning curve - Learning how to market through Inbound Marketing requires knowledge of how the methodology works, and how to move people along their buyers journey.
Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
Can they get along?
Yes. Inbound Marketing (content) mixed with Outbound marketing techniques can prove to be a good combination, especially if the outbound medium is electronic, though it’s a good idea to determine whether your Inbound campaign should be your primary campaign, with Outbound advertising as a targeted companion campaign. Social media systems like Facebook and Twitter, can be very effective hybrid (Inbound/Outbound) marketing platforms given the control you can have over your market demographics. Write a blog, post it to Facebook, boost that post for a few dollars, and wait for the click throughs, all while Google puts your blog post to work.
In the game of Google Hide and Seek, the websites that rank the highest win... Big Time. By partnering your Inbound with a targeted Outbound Marketing Strategy (if you choose to do so), you’ll bring your website out in the open, making it easier for potential customers to find the products, services and solutions they seek from you, without having to search so hard.
A Commercial is temporary. A blog article, or Facebook post is forever, and will continue working LONG after you've written it!