The sudden prevalence of inbound marketing, and the Bradford Group’s love of blogging about it, doesn’t mean that outbound marketing is, well, on the outs.
Brand recognition is still the catalyst that spurs consumer engagement, and trust can still be built through classic outbound methods like advertisements, articles and direct contact. What’s different in the year 2014 is that these methods now work in tandem with social forums to earn, rather than purchase, a consumer’s attention.
Inbound and outbound marketing should team up to be part of a holistic, hybrid-marketing scheme for your company. This scheme may involve more out than in, or vice versa, depending on your business segment and intended customer.
So what is the difference between being an innie or an outie? Stop looking at your belly button and read on:
Inbound marketing-focused companies have a specific audience to glean leads from and look to incorporate their audience into the direction of their business. According to inbound marketing authority Hubspot, it’s all about publishing the right content in the right place at the right time so that your marketing becomes relevant and helpful to consumers, not interruptive. It approaches people where they are to create a connection.
Small-to-midsize companies can benefit greatly from the fact that inbound marketing is affordable, targeted and reliant on customer feedback. If you need to test the waters with a new product or find out if your business model is resonating with consumers, inbound marketing provides that opportunity. Its focus on dialogue encourages a new type of consumer-business relationship, one that runs both ways.
Inbound is also critical for companies looking to make an emotional connection with their consumers. Take Ford as an example. The car company launched their “digital influencers” campaign in 2009, which offered the free use of a Ford Fiesta for six months to 100 everyday drivers. The catch was that these drivers had to complete monthly challenges and regularly post about the car on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter etc.
According to AdWeek, the outbound campaign landed more than 6,000 pre-orders for the Fiesta and Ford could claim 50,000 pieces of content, more than 6 million YouTube views and 40 million twitter impressions.
This campaign was successful because there was a conversation created between Ford and it’s customers. If a consumer was interested in purchasing a car and began their search with Google, they would find a video documenting the use of Ford car from a trusted source, a peer. And this peer would have the free use of a car for six months – why wouldn’t the review be a positive one?
Outbound marketing-focused companies often target a broader audience, and rely on brand recognition to compete in crowded markets. Print or TV ads, billboards, Facebook campaigns, sweepstakes, pay-per-click ads and direct contact with customers are just a few of the ways to get your name out there and associated with a particular cause or idea.
McDonald’s, a brand that is marketing to basically everyone on this planet, is a classic example of well-utilized outbound marketing. Through traditional outbound methods like television advertisements, they have associated, and will continue to associate their brand with fast, easy and low priced food, all with that happy meal smile. If a customer sees the golden arches on the side of the road, they know what they are getting into. There is no need to get online and build a relationship with Ronald McDonald before deciding on a Big Mac.
General services like law firms, IT companies, health systems and home repair, can also benefit from name recognition and association via outbound marketing. These services appeal to the masses, whether that “mass” is international, statewide or just within your county lines, and things like service rankings, award recognition and expert status matter to their customers. When the market is crowded, promoting these aspects of your company through outbound marketing can provide credibility, and a leg up over the competition.
Combining these two strategies into one dynamic marketing plan is the sweet spot for any business. The amount of focus you place on inbound vs. outbound marketing, and how you relate the two, will change over time as your company grows, provides new offerings and evolves with your consumer.
Photo Credit: photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhmarketing/8468788107/”>mkhmarketing</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>