Monday, November 19, 2012

Are You In or Are You Out?

I see myself as a challenging prospective consumer. There has not been a single piece of direct mail that has made it any further than my recycling bin. I don't make purchasing decisions based on what I've seen on TV, heard on the radio or advertised in print. I am an opt-out email responder, I don't click on ads on the web and am a telemarketer's worst nightmare. If I want to know about something, I will seek out the information on my own, listen to the opinions of trusted friends and family and make a decision without the influences of traditional marketing tactics and based on the shift from companies to invest and rely more on Inbound marketing strategies as opposed to the more traditional (Outbound) strategies and tactics, I guess I am not alone.
                         (Photo Credit Pamorama)

If you are unfamiliar with these strategies, think of them in very simple terms

- Outbound Marketing uses tactics such as TV, print ads, direct mail and telemarketing (all costly methods) to attract consumers. They 'push' info at you in the form of casting a broad net and attempt to generate sales by what they've managed to catch.

- Inbound Marketing uses the 'earned media' approach by using tactics such as utilizing blogging, article publishing and producing creative content through SEO, Content Management Systems, lead nurturing and the omnipowerful world of Social Media to spread the word and 'pull' you in. A recent 2012 Social Media Trends study reports that Social Media Marketing nets 61% more sales leads than traditional methods.

Some would say that the older Outbound Marketing strategies don't work, and judging by the visible shift to Inbound Marketing and its ability to better convert a lead into a sale, they might be right BUT putting all your eggs into one basket is never a good idea - enter the idea of an integrated campaign that utilizes both methods at appropriate times in an effort to enrich what has been 'earned' by using Outbound tactics to strengthen your overall strategy.

Inbound marketing is heavily focused on creating and distributing engaging, relevant and useful content. A couple ways to integrate Outbound tactics to an already engaged audience:

- Package your content rich Inbound marketing tools (blogs, EBooks, white papers, webinars, etc) in a targeted email marketing campaign. In short, leverage your content with an Outbound strategy that could prove beneficial in driving traffic to your website, expand your blog audience and create
sharing opportunities across social media networks

- Use the 'Human' tactic. You've learned a lot about your audience so why not leverage what you know about them that's been harvested from social media monitoring, web analytics and what they've responded to, turn off your computer, silence your cell phone and pay someone a visit to discuss their needs or problems and provide
one-on-one content through conversation. Emailing is cold and allows people to ignore you... showing up at someone's office with an invitation for coffee to share content relevant to them or even ask what issues they'd like to see    addressed in your company's next blog post builds a strong working relationship. (Photo Credit Dust Consulting)

At first glance, it seems like focusing your efforts on Inbound marketing tactics is a no brainer but industry experts feel an integrated marketing campaign is crucial to generating high-quality sales leads. Integrated campaigns cover all areas - lead generation, brand awareness and more and at a faster rate. The all mighty 'sales funnel' has 3 levels and getting a consumer through all 3 means knowing what marketing strategies work best at the various levels... a great topic for the next post.

Until the next time, be well and keep your mind on what matters.

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