It’s fair to say that ‘Inbound marketing’ is hot at the moment. Encouraging customers to come to you rather than chasing them is a sound philosophy and potentially lower cost than spending money on direct (outbound) marketing. But is it the case that we are experiencing a full pendulum swing from push to pull or do social media, content development, and so on simply provide new routes to market that make marketing choices more difficult?
Can We Ignore Social Media as Part of Lead Generation?
The reality is that we cannot ignore social media but we need good content to maximize its value. There’s no point in creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn Company Page, or YouTube channel if you don’t develop interesting stuff that potential customers might value, consume and share. Likewise, it makes no sense to generate great content that you keep to yourself. That’s like opening a shop with lovely merchandise but keeping the shutters down.
Inbound generates credibility through the provision of relevant material that your audience might want to read or watch. The challenge is that, in many ways like outbound marketing, there is a snowstorm of information on the Internet. Therefore, a consistent and focused approach is needed. It is not usually a short-term game.
Is Outbound in Decline?
When it comes to outbound marketing such as email, telemarketing, and direct mail, observers might argue about its decline. People don’t want to be sold to. That’s true. Equally, in many ways, outbound marketing should form part of the marketing strategy for most businesses. Marketing convention would suggest that you need a blend of marketing methods to reach your target audience and reach them on several levels. Being visible to them is essential. This may be through advertising, or at an exhibition. It could even be via a piece of crafted ‘old-school’ direct mail. And, ultimately it might involve making a professional call.
It goes without saying that content is important these days. Effective content encourages likely buyers to come to you. It’s definitely a strategy that we endorse. And, distribution of your content through social media may be the strategy that convinces a prospective client to engage and buy.
Where to Focus the Effort?
A hard-pressed business owner or marketing manager needs to carefully consider their target market, budget, effectiveness, and bang for the buck when choosing marketing activities. You can’t do it all unless you’re Unilever, Tesco, or Virgin. A blend is probably what’s needed. Encouraging web traffic via social media, SEO and great content is pretty much de rigeur these days. Equally, some form of outbound marketing is essential if you recognize that you can’t simply twiddle your thumbs waiting for customers to come to you.
The key is to:
- Analyze your target market
- Understand what they respond to i.e. their drivers, and where they go for information
- Work out how best to integrate and maximize each element of your marketing approaches
- Maximise budget utilization to ensure you reach your customers in the most productive way in the shortest time
A busy marketer or business owner must assess the value of each method, and the weight of effort to apply to inbound and outbound marketing. You can’t do it all. However, you can’t afford to ignore the benefits of both inbound and outbound. Ultimately, therefore, it comes down to understanding your market and ensuring that you test and measure success to maximize return on investment.
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