A snobby bunch of marketing services firms (including ours) have made it a habit to admonish marketers that rely on outbound marketing tactics like email blasts. Even worse than email blasts, they (we) say, are marketers that hire telemarketers to cold call prospects, based on their titles, industries or other firmographic data. These callers cajole people into agreeing to receive an email with whatever whitepaper they’re hawking included as an attachment so as to be able to then count them as a lead to pass onto the client. No doubt, some percentage say “yes” just to get the caller off the phone.
At the same time, this snobby bunch of marketing services firms sing high praises of marketers that rely solely on content marketing fueled by inbound marketing tactics. These marketers blog and post and create micro-websites and landing pages designed to attract target prospects. They invest heavily in SEO and SEM. And they place their bets on the expectation that decision makers who are conducting related research and are currently in the market to make a purchase decision will find their content assets through relevant keyword searches.
In reality, outbound marketing tactics and inbound marketing tactics are two sides of the same coin. They should not be treated as an either/or proposition. There are, in fact, merits to both approaches. So, just maybe, we snobby bunch of marketing services firms should get off our high horse.
The truth of the matter is that outbound marketing or “interruption marketing,” which, after all, was the basis for most lead generation campaigns before inbound marketing tactics came along, continues to work. Let’s face it: Some percentage of prospects will always respond favorably to unsolicited phone calls and email messages. Some of those prospects will even end up becoming new customers. If that weren’t the case, marketers would be hard pressed to justify the investment.
So let’s acknowledge the fact that it continues to be possible – if less preferable – to generate a respectable volume of good-quality leads to fill the sales pipeline using traditional outbound tactics. That said, it’s no wonder that, according to the latest research findings, more marketers are allocating an ever-growing percentage of their marketing spend to inbound tactics as opposed to outbound tactics.
Think of it as just-in-case marketing versus just-in-time marketing, to borrow some jargon from the manufacturing sector. Success with just-in-case marketing happens when a decision maker unexpectedly receives a solicitation for a product or service that just happens to be of interest to them. They may not have been in the market, or even aware of it, but they are nonetheless receptive to the offer. Success with just-in-time marketing happens when a decision maker is actively researching the product or service and looking for relevant information, including whitepapers and eBooks.
In short, outbound marketing and inbound marketing are not mutually exclusive. One does not replace the other any more than the microwave oven replaced stove top cooking or the DVD player replaced theatrical showings of movies. A strong argument can be made for simultaneously pursuing both approaches – and enjoying the benefits of both worlds – even if that’s something that we snobby bunch of marketing services firms, the untiring proponents of inbound tactics, don’t necessarily care to admit.