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Succeeding in Today's Marketplace: Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing


As I mentioned in my last post, thanks to the advent of social media tools, mobile devices and widely available high speed internet access, we are moving away from mass marketing to the way of the old marketplaces. Sure, we might not be geographically in the same physical space like with vendors or sellers like in the days of old, but we are all operating in the same marketing place ... the digital space. And this space is crowded and everyone has a voice.


How customers learn about products
Think about this for a second. When you need to learn something, feel stuck, want to compare prices, want advice, or feel the need to complain about bad service or products, what do you do? If you're like most people, you pull out your mobile device or hop on your computer and open Google or one of your trusted social networks. If you’re seeking information, typically you’ll head to Google, type in your question and start your searching. Notice You are SEEKING INFORMATION. You want information on your timeline, when you want it or need it. Businesses that are winning today understand this and they are helping people find the information people want and need when the user wants or needs it.

From a business standpoint, it's incredibly important to understand what’s happening now. This might seem simple, but don’t underestimate the value of this lesson. Unlike the glory days of mass marketing, people aren't sitting around, waiting to be interrupted by banner ads, TV commercials, radio spots at random times. What are they doing? They’re using DVRs, pop-up blockers and the like to avoid those interruptions. Instead, they are demanding information when THEY WANT AND NEED IT. About the only time people actively seek out commercials is during the Super Bowl. 


Companies that don't operate effectively in the digital marketplace think only about pushing their information out at customers. They treat the digital marketplace like the mass media marketplace. They push their products, branding about how awesome their products are, hoping, just hoping someone can be suckered into paying attention and responding to their messages. But the reality, when they do this, no one is listening.

To me, this is like the worker who’s manning the kiosks at the shopping malls. Have you ever seen these people operate? They are constantly bothering passers-by, bugging anyone who walks within 10 feel of their carts, trying to get people to stop at their booth where they are hawking things like jewelry cleaner, chair massages or some other unnecessary product. Want to see how not to market? Go to your local mall and stand near a row of these carts and watch how the the passers-by interact with the sellers. Potential customers will do almost anything they can to avoid looking at or getting too close to the sales people manning them. You almost never see people seeking out the sales person Why? People don't want to be interrupted and annoyed by outbound marketing. And this holds true in the digital marketplaces as well.

Simply put, outbound marketing is pushing messages out at people who aren't actively seeking them. Often, it's interrupting consumers with unwanted or unneeded information. It's not helping or listening, it's shouting out at people and bragging about how cool and important you think you are. 

It's also expensive. According to HubSpot, an lead generated through traditional outbound marketing techniques cost 62% more to acquire than an inbound lead. Yes, that got my attention too.

In other words, outbound marketing is: 

  • one-way communications
  • pushing information out through expensive channels and hoping people pay attention to your ad
  • talking at people
  • talking at people when they don’t want to hear from you (aka interruption marketing … think TV, radio, print, banner ads, cold calls, etc.)
  • being organization-centered, talking just about yourself and how great you think you are
  • keeping your secret sauce closely guarded and protected

The truth is, outbound marketing doesn't work very well in the modern marketplace.


We are witnessing, first hand, a decline in outbound marketing. Why? Because it doesn’t work. There is a major fundamental shift in how customers act and behave. They also have different expectations on how they want businesses to act and behave as well.

Social media is at the heart of this. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. have have empowered regular consumers and given them a voice. Consumers can use this voice to have big impacts on small businesses and large brands that don’t listen.

And remember, this isn’t so much a revolution as it is a return tomarketing that was done prior to having mass media channels such as radio and TV available. So fear not, there is an answer.

IF OUTBOUND IS ON IT'S WAY OUT, WHAT SHOULD BUSINESSES BE DOING? We'll answer this in our next post ...


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Posted @ Sunday, October 19, 2014 10:43 PM by cc
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