Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

Interrupting consumers doesn’t work any more. Outbound marketing – direct mail, trade shows, conferences, PR, advertising – just doesn’t work any more. Instead, you need inbound marketing. Attract customers like a magnet to your products or services! The new truth of marketing is that interruption is out. Ideas that spread, win. No one is listening any more. Go viral.

If you wholeheartedly believe every bit of this, stop reading now. Close this browser window, walk away, and have a wonderful, productive day.

Are you still here?

Which part of you does NOT wholeheartedly believe the new mantras of marketing?

Which part of you thinks there might be some falseness to what is claimed as absolute truth in marketing today?

That part of you is right. There is more than just “make a cool video on YouTube” or “optimize your web site for Google” to marketing. Do these things matter? Absolutely. Search and content that rocks are vital components of any marketing program, and it’s just as insane to dismiss them as it is to dismiss outbound efforts like direct mail and cold calling.

Istanbul bazaarThe truth of the matter is that inbound and outbound marketing are both vitally important to your company, your products, your services, your ideas, and they complement each other. They are equally important, and they balance each other. Look back over the thousands of years of human civilization and you’ll see inbound and outbound marketing together. In the earliest bazaars, barkers called out their wares for sale – the purest form of interruption marketing. “Apples! Fresh apples, just brought in by horse from Judea!” If you were in the mood for apples, you might have bought some, and if the vendor’s apples were good, weren’t full of worms, were as he claimed them to be, then he’d gain a little of your trust. Over time, if he kept fulfilling his promises, you’d probably tell a friend or two. “Hosea, try the fruit vendor Ismael next to the butcher!” That’s word of mouth marketing, permission marketing, inbound marketing.

Examine the long history of marketing through the ages. Look how media changed marketing, but more important, look at how core principles of marketing remain the same despite the changes. You still have to find people interested in what you’ve got. Inbound or outbound, a consumer who neither wants nor needs what you have will remain deaf and blind to all your marketing, no matter how hard you try any approach.

Inbound and outbound marketing are co-dependent on each other. When you first get started, you’ll find that you do a lot more outbound marketing than inbound marketing. This is the time to experiment with all the methods of outbound. Try out direct email, advertisements, trade shows, and all of the outbound methods, and find the ones that work best for you. Once you begin to gain momentum, more of your business will come from inbound methods – word of mouth, search as your web site gains more credibility, content that rocks, promises you keep to the consumer.

Ultimately, you should find yourself with a balance. You’ll still need outbound to continually find new customers, especially in unexplored niches and verticals where you’re always the new person, the new business. You’ll still need inbound to find friends of your friends, customers of your customers, and keep the promises you’ve made to the people whose trust you’ve gained. Will it be exactly 50/50? Probably not, but it will be in balance, in equilibrium.

If someone tells you that any marketing methods, inbound, outbound, direct, fax, whatever, is the only thing you need, you know two things to be true – they are either lying or clueless, and they probably have something to sell you.


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