Inbound marketing – it’s new and it’s hard but we must get better at it

There’s two types of marketing. The first is outbound and it’s largely about ‘buying’ attention, whether through print, TV, radio, banner advertising or cold calling. We’re familiar with this type of marketing as we learn about it at school and college, we see it on TV, hear it on the radio, see it all around us, read about it in many marketing 101 books and have experienced it throughout our working lives.

However, in recent years we have become more jaded and less trusting of what businesses say about themselves (ie. outbound marketing or paid media) due to the rise of the internet, how that impacts how we search and buy and how we are placing more store in reviews and recommendations.

Enter a different type of marketing: inbound marketing.

Recently, there was a great article and infographic across at Mashable called Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC] all about this topic that you should check out. The folks across at Voltier Digital produced a great infographic that highlights the differences between the two kinds of marketing. Statistics from the article highlight the decline in outbound marketing where:

  • 44% of direct mail is never opened, wasting a huge amount of time, paper and postage.
  • 86% of people skip through or just skip the adverts on TV by going to make a cup of tea.
  • 84% of 25 to 34 year olds have left a website due to an irrelevant or intrusive ad.
  • The cost per lead in outbound marketing is more than for inbound marketing.

So, what is inbound marketing? Well, it’s a style of marketing that helps a company get found by it’s customers. The sort of tools that you might use in inbound marketing could include:

  • White papers
  • Ebooks
  • Blogs
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics
  • etc

Aha!, I hear you say. It’s what we’ve been doing already with a fancy new badge.

No, not exactly. It’s not about packaging, it’s more about approach. I wrote about this on my own blog a little while ago in Is your marketing both interesting and interested? and what I was saying was that inbound marketing is not about buying attention, it’s not about broadcasting your message and it’s not about trying to more ‘interesting’ than your neighbour or competitor. Inbound marketing focuses on producing materials and campaigns that are ‘interested’ in and useful to your customers.

This is what people are looking for, this is what people will share, this is what will fuel your retention, this is what will help you get found and this is what will drive your sales in future.

However, this is profoundly different to how we have been taught marketing and how most of us do it right now.

That means it’s not going to be easy to do as it’s new and it requires a different set of skills than the ones that many of us have already learnt.

However, all of us, including small and micro businesses, need to get better at it if we are to compete.

What does that mean? Well, one thing that is clear is that all businesses need to get better at writing, and writing a lot, if we are to produce the type of content and material that is going to help us get found.

One thing you could do is to start dusting off your writing skills or start finding the ‘writers’ in your team. You never know, they could be your marketing stars of the future.

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