Are You Sitting Around Waiting for Business?
Feb 22, 2016
Are you sitting around waiting for business to find you? Are you spending more and more of your marketing dollars on inbound marketing and waiting for sales to flow in? If so, you may have a long wait. This is not my cartoon, but it pretty much says it all.
Is “Inbound marketing” the equivalent of sitting around doing nothing? In this “over messaged” world that we live in, I say, “Yes, it is.”
And before you get all excited and start hyperventilating, let’s define “inbound marketing”?
One major inbound marketing company (unnamed) defines it this way, “Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be.” “…Naturally want to be…” Are you serious? “BS,” I say. With millions of companies and products on the web and 10s of millions of messages, there is no such thing as “natural.” And, if the unnamed company practices what they are so busy preaching to the masses, why are they spending dollars on outbound advertising to attract leads for their business?
Everyone is filling the pipeline with content that they hope will attract prospects and customers. And, they hope that their content is better than their competitors. It’s content, information, overload. Don’t believe me? Doing a search for toilet paper for example, gets you 4 plus million hits in Google. So, unless you are buying the primary key words and paying Google a bunch, you’re not going to get anywhere near the front page search results. And, if you’re paying for it, as in buying key words to appear at the top of a search page, it’s called advertising.
I hate to rain on the “inbound marketing” parade; but, it’s time for a reality check. Studies continue to show that for the vast majority of businesses continue to have a problem proving the ROI of inbound marketing. Posting content, hoping first that people find it and then hoping it develops a relationship with potential buyers and eventually leads them to buy is betting against the house with worse odds than throwing down money on a roulette table.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have inbound marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy. But, hoping it’s going to bring in that new buyer and replace outbound marketing is nonsense. Yes, you need relevant content to keep the prospect and customer interested once you have attracted them. But, to base your customer acquisition, new business development strategy primarily on inbound marketing is insanity for most businesses.
Technology certainly makes it easier and cheaper to get your message out. But, getting heard is much harder. The buyer sees thousands of messages that they have to filter through or ignore each day. In this environment, you have to be proactive and use “outbound marketing.”
Unfortunately in some parts of the marketing community, “outbound marketing” have become dirty words. But, the reality is that now more than ever you have to get in the potential buyer’s face. You have to interrupt, make noise, get and hold the buyer’s attention. And, thinking that interruption is a bad thing is a ridiculous notion. All content interrupts! If someone stops doing something else they are doing to read, listen to or view your content, then they have been interrupted.
Also, contrary to what some of us would like to believe the world is not our oyster and not everyone out there is a potential buyer of my product or service. And, hanging out content for the world to see isn’t going to do the trick. Rather than waiting for them to find you, you need to identify, target and then reach your best prospects and market opportunities. And the best way to do this is through effectively using “outbound marketing,” specifically direct marketing.
Inbound marketing sounds nice and there is no question that there will be some people who find you and come to you because they were searching for your type of products/services on the web. But, depending on them to find your content, drink it in at their own pace, and then when they are ready, buy from you, just doesn’t make sense. There are too many competing forces.
Inbound marketing works after you have your audience. For example, inbound marketing may work more effectively for Apple because of their big brand identification and their huge Apple and Mac cult like following. But, you still need a strong outbound marketing effort because someone is always out there ready to take your customer from you and Apple has one of the strongest outbound marketing efforts.
Macy’s uses inbound marketing, but they are also heavy users of outbound marketing, including direct marketing. There isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t receive an offer in the mail (land and email) from them that is intended to drive me into their stores or shop online.
We live in ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) times. And, you have to fight for attention. Call it the school of 2 x 4 marketing. You have to hit them once, hit them twice, and hit them again and keep on hitting them once you have their attention.
Direct works and it should be part of your marketing mix. It has been working for over 400 years and the digital revolution hasn’t destroyed or altered its effectiveness. Quite the contrary, the digital revolution has brought us email which is one of the most cost effective direct marketing tools…once you have your audience. But even old direct mail is still very effective depending on your audience and offer. In fact, direct mail is more effective in new customer acquisition than email. But, once you have that customer or name, email becomes much more cost effective. If you’re not using direct marketing, you’re missing out on big opportunities to increase your business and customer base.
To find out more about how direct marketing can work for you, visit our website, you’ll find lots of valuable information that can help you integrate it into your marketing mix.
Take our Direct Marketing Quiz to get a quick assessment of your organization’s direct marketing planning, practices and processes. Your answers will indicate where you need improvements and help guide your decisions about future direct marketing needs and assessments.
Dudley Stevenson, founder and CEO of DWS Associates, has over thirty-five years’ experience in consumer marketing, business-to-business marketing, and direct marketing, including developing, planning, and implementing go-to-market strategies. He's also the author of "Marketing Direct: Breaking Through The Clutter." Working with organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, he and his team have helped clients such as IBM, Sony, Neiman Marcus, Arizona Highways, Marshall Field & Co., Mrs. Field’s, UNICEF, and Patagonia implement successful direct marketing programs. A longtime member of the Direct Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association, Stevenson is also a sought-after speaker. He’s given hundreds of presentations and workshops on marketing and direct marketing. His “Marketing Planning 101” workshop alone has reached more than 100,000 marketing and sales professionals.