Inbound or Outbound Marketing? Think Boundless Instead

Without question, inbound marketing is currently en vogue.  Outbound marketing has fallen out of favor for a number of reasons, including high costs as well as data and content overload.  boundless-marketingAccording to HubSpot CEO, Brian Halligan, your prospects are deluged with over 2000 outbound marketing interruptions daily.  Breaking through the noise and capturing attention is becoming increasingly fraught with difficulties, as many individuals avoid marketing interruptions with email spam filters, caller IDs, DVRs, satellite radio and other creative methods.  Such technological advancements have made enticing your target audience through outbound marketing a more complex and expensive enterprise.  Certain outbound tactics like cold calling have no doubt become far less effective since the dawn of the digital age.

Outbound marketing can feel like an uphill battle—trying to attract and convert the very people who are actively blocking your access to them.  Conversely, high-quality inbound marketing entails the creation of highly relevant, information-rich content, which demonstrates deep industry insight and thought leadership.  Strategic inbound marketing can bring your prospects right to your website, your content, your CTAs and all the way through your sales funnel—on their own accord and without any aggressive push tactics like intrusive pop-up ads or cold calling.  It is clear why many marketers have abandoned outbound tactics for the promise of inbound marketing success.  Although outbound marketing has certain drawbacks in the current marketplace, it should not be left in the dust.

Your inbound marketing will likely be most effective with Generation Y—those born between the early 1980s and 2000—and Generation Z—those born in the early 2000s to the present.  These individuals are—or will be when they grow up—tech-savvy and highly engaged in social media.  Gen Y grew up relying on the internet for information, and the internet is more central to the Generation Z way of life than any earlier cohort.  While all this sounds very promising for inbound marketing, outbound marketing still has significant value.  Consider a typical CEO in his mid-50s.  While he corresponds via email daily, he is not an avid social media user and does not fully grasp the importance of content marketing in the current economy.

Imagine that you are an enterprise software company trying to turn this CEO into a qualified lead and ultimately convert him to a client.  He may be unlikely to visit your website or read your top-notch industry blog; he might never see your highly relevant content, strategic CTAs or enticing premium downloads first hand.  When this CEO wants to make a SaaS purchase, he delegates the research to his staff.  He may just hear the broad strokes about your company and service offering compared to your top competitors.  You may never get the chance to wow him with your inbound marketing, simply because he does not have the time to read lots of enterprise software industry blogs.  The CEO is virtually consumed by the day-to-day demands of running his corporation.  He does not have the time for—or any interest in—tweets, likes, +1s or social content curation.

When he wants to hire a company to help him reach his business growth objectives, he relies on the research of his team, word-of-mouth marketing, business journals and his extensive professional network.  To reach him through these channels, your influence needs to extend well beyond social media.  You need to be well known, well respected and broadly perceived as superior to your industry competition.  Attaining such clout calls for clever PR, impressive reach and mass exposure won the old-fashioned way—not simply by one of your blog posts going viral.  Such business influence could take years to build.

Inbound and outbound marketing each have particular merits and should be used in concert to optimize your marketing ROI.  Last month, I visited New York and walked through Times Square, where I was immediately struck by social-media-big-businessthe convergence of inbound and outbound marketing by many major brands, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Disney, Hyundai and Samsung.  These brands spend big in order to have their outbound marketing featured in such a prime location; Disney even has vintage cartoons playing on a massive silver screen.  The marketing strategy of these major brands is a combination of inbound and outbound tactics.  They all utilize the full spectrum of marketing options—social media included—in order to win big.

I advocate boundless marketing, which encompasses both inbound and outbound tactics; it does not limit or confine you to just one operational paradigm.  Function boundlessly in your marketing—drawing on inbound and outbound tactics on a case-by-case basis.  While inbound marketing can be highly effective for most types of prospects, others—like the CEO—can be immune to its charms.  You will need to infect his kind with a potent mix of PR, outbound marketing, traditional advertising and high-powered face-to-face networking.

After all, not all professional networking happens on LinkedIn…A firm handshake, a killer golf swing and the ability to hold your scotch could not hurt either.  This advice is not just for men; do not limit yourself in business due to your gender.  Do not confine yourself or your company to inbound or outbound marketing exclusively.  Instead, be agile and strategic about your marketing strategy.  The ability to pull this off winningly is what separates the real movers and shakers from everyone else.