The marketing world is filled with countless articles, interviews, and blog posts (Yes, just like this one) about how to successfully attract targeted markets. However, with resources pointing into different directions, it’s sometimes better to step back and understand how marketing campaigns compared. To start, marketing is defined as the process of creating relationships and satisfying customers. Keeping that definition in mind, let’s explore the two way businesses accomplish this goal. Traditional marketing efforts such as billboard ads, TV commercials, and even updated YouTube snips use outbound communication tactics used to gain customer attention. Conversely, inbound marketing takes the approach of alluring consumers through great content, customer service, and SEO to boost sales. Both have advantages and weaknesses, but in a constantly shifting business world which works best?
As the name gives away, traditional marketing methods are how companies have typically approached selling their goods or services since the early stages of industry. Print advertising, cold calls, and trade shows were some of the first marketing channels. Before the invention of information technology, consumers had very little choice in who they wanted to conduct business with. Want a steak for that anniversary diner? The butcher on the street corner is close. Need help with the lawn? The service your friend recommended sounds ok. Thinking about a new tv? Look no further than the Best Buy ad you saw. The limited amount of options meant that customers had to deal with poor service, unfair pricing, and ultimately someone else’s standards.
Outbound styles of marketing have also put businesses into restrictive situations where their creativity may be at risk. By having few options as to how they reach their consumers, many businesses had to rely on marketing agencies. Expensive physical advertisements in magazines, door to door sales, and Superbowl commercials are all examples of classical outbound marketing. The problem is that businesses must solely focus on capturing customer attention in a world filled with competitors trying to do the exact same thing. Other avenues in the digital marketing world resemble these classic tactics used by businesses for generations. Email marketing is important, but relies heavily on selling products to the consumer. Trying to gain a fraction of their attention. Instead of having the ability to create useful content to assist the customer with their needs, funds are allocated to over the top ads which sometimes have nothing to do with the actual service or product.
So how does this change?
When the iPhone was released in 2007, along with other information technologies, the marketing world was flipped upside down. Google, Yelp, and other web-based search engine software made it possible for customers to not only find products directly from companies, they gained the ability to compare an unlimited number of firms against one another. Still looking for that anniversary steak dinner? Go through a quick Yelp search to find all the finest meat producers. That lawn even more out of shape? Browse garden specialist that work with your specific ferns. Last tv break right after the warranty expired? Amazon’s customer reviews will tell you all about the product after it arrives. These examples are just some of the ways customers have increased their purchasing power. They decide when, who, and how they want their goods served to them. Social media isn’t just for link building, it also gives consumers the power to spread your companies brand exponentially, leading to increased search volume.
Businesses that notice this change in power dynamic realize with disruption brings opportunity. Instead of spending resources on developing ways to lure in consumers, they are finding ways to attract them by being helpful. Inbound marketing is the idea that by generating useful content such as videos, blog posts, and information customers can decide themselves if they are a good match. By studying a company’s customer base, their values and expectations, marketers can align perspectives to create lifetime long buyers. Seth Godin, the famous author and marketing guru, describes this as creating a loyal fan base. Instead of trying to gain the client for a single purchase, marketers can appeal to a smaller group of individuals who make regular returning purchases.
Inbound and Traditional marketing campaigns are alike, but are attempting to achieve different goals. Traditional efforts are all about growth in market share. Getting a larger piece of the pie by stealing customers away from competitors is the nature of outbound marketing. This isn’t all necessarily bad though. Start-ups and new businesses rely heavily on outbound methodology because they don’t have a piece of the pie to start with. As a firm grows, it gets harder and harder to keep the same number of customers coming back by attracting only new customers. Inbound marketing takes a stance as a service, not a supplier. Anyone can sell meat, cut grass, or produce tvs. It’s by aligning intentions with that of the customer base that keeps them coming back. Customers buy from different stores, fans buy from the same store no matter what. With new technology unlike any other in the pockets of the entire working population, times are changing. Inbound marketing has many complex moving parts for successful implementation. Check out our Inbound Marketing page to get a full view on the impact it’s making in the business world.