Inbound and Outbound Marketing

Posted by on August 15, 2011

If you could look at a trend in the last few years, many pundits have been claiming the end of traditional marketing as we know it is upon us. The debate rages, but I believe this is not a zero sum game for most companies. I believe that a company needs to have a mix of the two kinds of marketing – inbound and outbound- and of course integrate the two in order to have the greatest effect on its customers and reach.

So what is outbound and inbound marketing?

Broadly categorizing, outbound marketing is advertising using the traditional broadcast mediums and models: radio, print, non-interactive TV advertising. I will even throw in static brochure websites. Simply put, with one way communication, a company shouts out to the world like a shotgun blast hoping it has aimed at the right market segment in order to hit some of the desired customer demographic.

Inbound marketing is publishing content or user generated content that facilitates interaction: web, social media, mobile, basically any platform in which the user seeks the information instead of getting inundated by a controlled message. As well, once the user finds what they are looking for they can add to the information if they choose.

I have used the term marketing in both titles, however there is another way to look at the two: inbound is marketing, outbound is advertising.

To further the example let’s pretend you have a restaurant:

Advertising tells the customer who you are, where you are, when you are open and what you can do (cook).
Marketing provides reasons that create the itch for a customer to go to your restaurant.

Going further:
Sales: your waiter and host greet the customer and help them to decide what to buy and provide customer service so that they may wish to come back.
Operations: The kitchen produces the food at the acceptable profit margin for the business and a level of quality that will create a desire to return.

So what would be an example of outbound and inbound marketing for this restaurant?

Outbound could be as simple as a print ad with hours and a sampling of the menu.
Inbound could be a website or Facebook page that provided detailed images and dish descriptions and encouraged reviews and social media proliferation. Of course, one could do a lot more but you get the point.

How do the two differ? And are both still needed?

Outbound is a call to action that creates brand awareness that the restaurant may not have. I mean, why have a sign if the web will do it all? Let’s be honest, location is advertising.

Inbound helps the restaurant get found when people are looking for somewhere to go eat (everybody Google searches everything). Plus, if done correctly, inbound can create engagement, which creates loyalty.

In my opinion those are the differences, and I believe a business absolutely needs both. Knowing this, your job as a marketer will be to determine what the right mix is for your industry and what your business is honestly able to do.

So what are you going to do?

Steve Whittington is Managing Director of a boutique digital agency, Graphic Intuitions. He has also served for a over a decade as a member of the Executive Team of Flaman Group of Companies an award winning organization and has over 25 years of executive experience. Steve’s current board work includes serving as Chair of the board for Flaman Fitness Canada, a national retailer; President of Glenora Child Care Society; and Co-Chair of the Marketing Program Advisory Committee for NAIT’s JR Shaw School of Business. Previous notable board work included, a Director for a meal prep internet Startup Mealife and Chair of Lethbridge Housing authority, the third largest Social housing NGO in Alberta.

Academically, Steve was an instructor of Project Management at Lethbridge College for seven years. Steve holds a Bachelor of Commerce Honours degree; he is a Certified Sales Professional (CSP), Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Marketing Specialist (CMS) and (CCXP) Certified Customer Experience Professional.

Steve’s first book Thriving in the Customer Age – 8 Key Metrics to Transform your Business Results teaches about the customer journey and provides a guiding framework spanning all stages of the customer experience. The book explains how every metric impacts an organization and how leaders can best utilize each metric to provide a stellar customer experience. Everyone knows the customer is the most important part of a business. This book provides the tools to improve an organization’s customer experience and drastically transform business results.

Recently Steve’s Blog has been profiled as one of the Top 75 Customer Experience blogs

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