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Are Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing Mutually Exclusive?

By John McTigueMay 30, 2011

The inbound marketing police will tell you that you should never be blasting anything to everybody. The outbound marketing renegades will thumb their noses at you and push the button on another spammy mass marketing campaign. But is it really this simple? Haven't these two polar opposites started to join forces more and more these days? I think so, and I'll give you some examples.

soccer moms do they love inbound marketing

Inbound Marketing Seasoned With a Little Outbound

So, it's really not so pure in the real world of marketing is it? We inbounders capture leads with our free downloads, then turn around and send them all lead nurturing e-mails. Did we ever bother to ask them first? When was the last time you saw a lead capture form with a check box (unchecked) asking permission to send them e-mails? Hmmm, that's what I thought. We're really just assuming people want more of our stuff, aren't we? Well, ok, so we give them an opportunity to unsubscribe in our e-mails - that makes it alright, right? Or take that social media campaign we send out to all of our Facebook  friends or tweet with a hashtag so that millions will read them. Yeah, that's outbound alright. But it's still better than direct mail or TV ads in your face every 5 minutes, right?

Outbound Getting Jiggy With Inbound Marketing

So the outbounders aren't stupid either. They get it - people want relationships before they buy. Ok, fine, we'll invite people to JOIN US ON FACEBOOK by every means available - TV, radio, billboards, direct mail and mass e-mails. Now you have the opportunity to get to know us first by reading our compelling content on Facebook. Then if you happen to like our stuff, we'll put lots of offers up for you to click on.

So What's My Point?

There's no point in being an extremist in marketing. Sometimes both styles of marketing make sense, sometimes neither. It all depends on your target market.

Case #1 - CEO's

Try connecting with CEO's on Twitter and Facebook, and let me know how far you get. Do any of them subscribe to your blogs or join your LinkedIn Group? OK, so maybe a few have taken the bait, but not many. Let's face it, these folks are busy and they don't want to be hassled. Yes, you want to get your brand out there so the underlings will "bubble up" your information to their bosses. But what's wrong with a little well-placed, well-researched cold calling to reach the real decision makers? You may actually reach more that way if your sales pro is really a pro. All I'm saying is, it still works if done right.

Case #2 - Kids

How many kids are you reaching on Twitter and Facebook for your mega cool kid-safe products? Zero. They don't care about your brand unless it's something they heard about from a school mate in a text message. They can't read your website on their smart phones, nor do they have the patience. Sorry Charlie, you'd better figure something else out. Kids live in a completely different universe from us old farts, so you'd better come up with a novel approach.

Case #3 - Soccer Mom's

Conventional wisdom says go chat with them on Facebook. Really? What about? Are you a real friend or a marketing friend? Forget it. You're not even in the ballpark. Unless you are a soccer mom, you have no idea what floats their boat. Go talk to them, bribe them if you have to. Find out what a soccer mom wants, then go figure out how to deliver it at a fair price with no delivery charge.

There are no absolutes in marketing. Each case lives or dies on its own merits. This is why marketers still need to be creative. It's not about the media or the technology. It's not so much about the way we market as it is about how we market and to whom. So please, inbound marketers and outbound marketers, leave your titles at the door and let's work together on making the people happy.

What's going into your marketing blender these days?

Photo credit: drewfer

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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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