Traditional marketing has always consisted primarily of outbound marketing; that is to say that marketers have focused on going out and actively soliciting new customers for their business. With this type of marketing business owners usually employed relatively invasive techniques including cold-calling, print advertising in magazines, newspapers and mailings, and television advertising. All of these types of traditional marketing have one thing in common – they are designed to interrupt what a person is doing and force them to think about the company, product or service that is being advertised. While traditional marketing has some advantages, many companies today find a new type of marketing – inbound marketing – to be more effective.
Inbound marketing works by creating content that people actually want to see, encouraging potential clients to seek out the company being marketed, rather than the company seeking out people. Much of this is done online through social networking sites. Good examples of inbound marketing includes creating videos for free online consumption, posting informational articles on a company website, and creating a blog that people subscribe to because they want the information it contains. In this way businesses can often spend less money and end up attracting a more appropriate potential customer base.
Let’s look at some specific advantages and disadvantages of both traditional outbound marketing and inbound marketing.
The Advantages of Traditional Marketing Traditional outbound marketing, including television and print ads, presence at trade shows, cold calling centers and email marketing, provides a number of advantages. First, outbound marketing can be relatively easy, if expensive. That is, a company can put their message in front of thousands – even millions – of people in an instant with TV, or in a week with magazines, and so forth. Traditional marketing gives a SMB the chance to deliver a direct sales pitch to customers. Some forms of outbound marketing, such as cold-calling and trade show exhibitions, can allow immediate interaction with customers and answering of questions, which can be very effective.
The Disadvantages of Traditional Marketing Traditional marketing also has a number of disadvantages. Foremost, technology such as caller ID, call blocking, digital video recorders and spam filters are all making it more difficult for companies to get their advertising in front of people’s eyes. Large scale advertising (print or TV) also spends a lot of money to send a message to people who may not be part of the target audience – it simply casts too wide a net in many cases. Finally, people are becoming adverse to the idea of the “hard sell” and are simply not as open to direct outbound marketing as they used to be.
The Advantages of Inbound Marketing Inbound marketing, which involves technology and information that draws people to a company out of curiosity or interest including blogs, e-books, YouTube videos, white papers, articles and the like, can provide a number of advantages for you, as a small or medium business. Inbound marketing allows for better targeting of the desired market, without so much marketing to those who do not fit the desired demographic. This means that you may reach fewer people, but those people will be more likely to have an interest in your product. Inbound marketing can cost less; note we wrote “can” as this will also be covered in disadvantages. But generally inbound marketing costs less than TV ads, print ads or hiring a call center. Inbound marketing is considered by many to be an investment; with inbound marketing you put information into cyberspace that can attract new customers continually, rather than just running a single brief ad on TV or in print that comes and goes.
The Disadvantages of Inbound Marketing While it has many advantages, inbound marketing does have some negatives as well. The biggest one is that there is a lot of competition not only for people’s money but for their attention; it can be challenging to get people to visit and linger on your website, Facebook page, YouTube site and so on. Also, while inbound marketing can be less expensive than traditional marketing, it can also be expensive in that you may need to hire technologically savvy people to make your marketing work. Furthermore, while inbound marketing is an investment it also takes time and does not necessarily produce the immediate returns that some outbound marketing can.