No doubt you’ve heard about inbound marketing and outbound marketing. They’re often viewed as choices that a marketer makes when deciding how to generate B2B sales leads. Instead of thinking about this as a choice, it’s better to view them as complementary forces. Combining inbound and outbound forces can create a more cohesive – and powerful – marketing strategy.
Inbound: Content that attracts sales leads
Inbound marketing is a passive way of marketing, in which you wait for the customer to come to you, through content related to the solutions that your company can provide. These potential customers are out information shopping, and they likely have the budget to buy. However, they might not have heard of you, hence the importance of creating appealing content to draw them in.
Inbound: Make it relevant and diverse
Creating a diversity of content – from blog posts to white papers to podcasts on hot topics – helps strengthen your reputation and the likelihood these interested readers become buyers. Yet inbound won’t necessarily get the whole job done, since it also draws people who are not necessarily qualified leads. It also takes time and patience as you attract an audience. In other words, inbound marketing shouldn’t be the only strategy that you deploy.
Outbound: Requires a deft touch
Outbound marketing is traditional marketing which actively reaches out to customers where they are most likely to be and appeals to them directly, through advertising, direct mail or phone calls. These methods draw prospects into the sales funnel while clearly and overtly positioning your products and services. Outbound requires that you find customers who aren’t necessarily looking for your products or services – in fact they may know nothing about it at all. But once they’re presented with your offering, they can see a need.
Outbound: The interruption factor
Outbound marketing enables you to choose your target audience, (something inbound is notoriously bad at doing), but there is a risk. It can feel intrusive to buyers who are used to dictating when, where and how they educate themselves. Since outbound techniques tend to be focused on the immediate, i.e. the call from a sales rep, the banner ad, or the webinar currently taking place, one way to lessen the interruption factor is by combining it with inbound marketing techniques to familiarize buyers with your company before more direct contact is made.
Soften the hard sell by combining inbound with outbound
The smartest marketers combine both approaches in their B2B sales strategies. Here are a few examples of how you can mesh inbound and outbound marketing activities into a cohesive sales and marketing strategy:
- After meeting with a client, instead of the usual thank you note, why not send a link to a piece of content related to what you and the prospect discussed?
- Create a customized email blast for your clients, prospects, colleagues to let them know about your blog and ask them to subscribe to it. This is a great example of inbound and outbound working together and can be used to promote any type of content like video, e-books, and white papers.
- Advertisements, email marketing and hard copy mailers are all examples of traditional outbound marketing tactics that can be effective when done correctly. But don’t let ads or hard copy mailers “stand alone.” Make them even more effective with calls to action. Include an effective CTA to draw prospects to the content you’ve already created through your inbound marketing strategies. Ask them to subscribe to your blog, follow you on Facebook, download an e-book, or watch a video.
Ultimately it’s a combination of both inbound and outbound strategies – along with qualifying digital sales leads properly – that increase the odds of closing a deal. If you’d like to learn how we blend inbound and outbound marketing techniques to create customized lead generation solutions for our clients, please give us a call.