Man can’t live on inbound marketing alone…

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the balance between inbound and outbound marketing.  I’m not a big fan of the term “inbound marketing” as it is largely a rehash of things that most online marketers discovered over the last 8-10 years.  Accountable and analytic marketers understand that:

  • Most of the mass media and “push” techniques just aren’t as effective as they used to be a decade or two ago.
  • People don’t like to be harassed by telemarketers.
  • Shoppers are increasingly using the Web (including blogs and social media) to learn about your product or service.
  • Prospects who engage with your business online are typically further along the purchasing process and are more likely to buy.

These are all things that most of us have discovered empirically.

In my opinion, the real challenge is figuring out if you can get enough from your online channels to fill the funnel and support your sales goals.  In many markets, a large percentage of people still use “old media” to learn about things.  For example, while over 10 million people still watch the nightly network news shows in the US, the more popular online TV shows have at best thousands of viewers.  I know, I know we can talk about audience targeting and specificity but differential is meaningful.

While all trends are toward online media, most of us will exhaust our productive online opportunities and will need some “old media”push in our marketing mix.  To use an expression popular in the state of Maine, “you can’t get there from here.” We have businesses to run and sometimes we still need the sheer mass of eyeballs you can only get from “old media”.

I know that change is upon us as print media and radio suffer through their painful corrections but they still have big, relevant audiences that we need to keep that in mind.  These channels are also not going away anytime soon.  My suggestion is to watch the numbers and be ruthless as you make media decisions understanding that most businesses need more than just online marketing (even if the customer acquisition costs are much higher offline).  At the end of the day, results matter more than channels.

How much are you moving to online media?  Can you reach your goals this year with online alone?

Author: Frank Days

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  1. it’s true that in the fishbowl we can get tipsy on the koolaid from time to time. however, the comparison you make above between ‘old’ and online media doesn’t really talk to the core premise of inbound marketing. the grail of inbound is content so compelling that others in your network want to share it. then others in _their_ network share it, etc. the end result is that people who need your widgets or service or whatever gain awareness not from a broadcast message (via whatever channel) but as a trusted referral.

    to a drawback to this approach is the time needed to ‘seed’ the target population with high value content. the amount of seeding required correlates to the size of the enterprise. if you are a consultant looking to gain five or ten new clients and your overhead is low, your funnel is pretty small. if you are volkswagen or kraft and the assembly lines are running 24/7, the sheer scale of the operation means that some accelerant is required in the form of awareness-building, broadcast messaging.

    I believe your post relates more to the media strategy for that type of awareness-building than to a judgment on the utility of an inbound marketing program. whether you are promoting yourself or clients via 30 second spots in the superbowl or some local cherub’s version of icarly, you are still doing broadcasting a message. as noted, that’s not automatically a bad thing. but I think your post blurs the line between in_bound_ and in_ternet_ marketing.

    I look forward to seeing how others weigh in. and I look forward to learning more from you and other experts in the brave new marketing worlkd…

  2. This is why I’m really really excited about the opportunities within more advanced contextual advertising. Social media buys within Facebook and Stumbleupon. Miniscule CPCs AND massive target audiences.

    I’m also more then a bit excited about the potential of print and tv advertisement measuring techniques. (I’m thinking about counted irises here…)

    The future looks cool. Take what you know from the past, utilize the better technology and profit.

    Also…glad to see another slice up today.


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