Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: Making outbound work with your inbound

Implementing an inbound marketing methodology into your next marketing campaign is a smart move. This can be actioned together with your current outbound strategy in place. In this blog post, I look at how these two methodologies differ and how they can work in conjunction with each other.

Let’s consider outbound traditional marketing methodologies first

Always be closing!”. Those three cut-throat words immortalised by Alec Baldwin in his role as Blake, in the 1992 classic movie Glengarry Glen Ross, might sound invasive to our ears today. But they perfectly encapsulate what was expected from any sales and marketing professional, trying to ply their wares during the “bad old days” of outbound marketing.

Modern marketing teams now turn to inbound methodologies more than ever before

Inbound marketing is about being of use to the clients with this. Helping them out with that. The paradigm has shifted by 180 degrees and it continues to rotate. The new catchphrase is “Always be helping!”, making a clear discontinuity with the old notion of where the customer ought to fit in along the marketing and sales funnels.


Are inbound and outbound actually mutually-exclusive concepts?

If you ask the inbound approach puritans about what they think marketing should look like, then you will get some very definitive answers.

HubSpot conclusively states that “Inbound marketing tactic is a lot more cost-effective than traditional, outbound marketing strategies”. Guy Kawasaki goes one step further by boldly stating that “If you have more money than brains, you should focus on outbound marketing, but if you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing”.

But can the relationship between the inbound and outbound marketing approaches be viewed through such a black on white prism? To label one marketing approach as the be-all and end-all of marketing and the other as being outright defunct can often smack of bias. The truth of the matter is that, although very different in their methodology, both approaches contain critical overlapping elements of the other, in their application.

The key premise of inbound marketing and its interrelation with outbound

The overarching principle governing inbound marketing is based on the proposition that you should never act out of self-interest but should always direct all your energy towards trying to help others, primarily through a solid content marketing strategy.

Engage prospects on their terms

Think of a classic example of a cold call. You are lost in the jungle of your own daily obligations. Then your phone rings and somebody randomly tries to sell you something just as random, and they refuse to back down, even as your blood reaches its boiling point. From a marketing point of view, this can be seen as a classic example of outbound marketing.


cold callsImage source:

But, picture this. You receive a telephone call during your lunch break, where a salesperson briefly outlines characteristics of a product or a service that you actually need and would like some more information about. Well, it might have been a fluke that that salesperson got through to you at that very point in time. But it’s more likely, the originator of the message did some homework before picking up his phone. He might have conducted some background research about you and your company. Further investigation might have yielded important information about the market that you operate in and where a salesperson can provide value, along your production path.

Following the call, a courtesy email supplemented by a white paper might be sent, outlining the details of the discussion. And, further correspondence might be conducted either via telephone or email marketing, to further engage with you, providing you with a selection of communication options to choose from.

Within seconds, what could have been an invasive telephone call has turned into an information-gathering deliberation, with a likely win-win outcome for both parties. By peppering the classic outbound cold call with a few elements of inbound marketing, you can create a unison that’s bound to succeed.

Can inbound be subliminal?

Subliminal hints of inbound marketing on a typical outbound digital marketing channel, such as social media banner ads, can considerably boost the possibility of a click-through. By simply replacing the core message on a social media advertisement from a typical “Hi there! Wanna buy our product?” to “Hi! Here’s something of value that we think will better your business. Try it out for free!”, you are discreetly moving into the realm of inbound marketing within an outbound channel. And, this is sure to score you brownie points with your potential customers.

Creating an optimal inbound-outbound balance

 Inbound marketing is all about providing value at each step of the buyers’ journey. But how can this be applied to outbound, you may wonder? Well, by simply taking your core inbound tenets of always being helpful, adding value and guiding rather than selling, and incorporating them into your existing outbound approach, you are already pretty much there. And, always remember – never act out of self-interest but always because you wish to help. That is the golden inbound key that opens the outbound gates to focused lead generation.

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