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Inbound Marketing Isn’t All that It’s Cracked Up to Be

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Red "loser" key and green "winner" key on keyboardInbound Marketing is flying so high and so loud these days that it seems to dominate the marketing landscape like a super storm.

Some folks might be dazzled by all the ballyhoo and think that Inbound (also called Content Marketing) is the one and only—virtually compulsory—basis for a contemporary marketing plan. And worse, it’s troubling to read advice that touts: “traditional” messaging is dead. “Long live Inbound.”

Fortunately for all of us, that’s not the case. In fact, both Inbound and Outbound are alive and well as marketing and advertising tools, as long as you know when and how to use them efficiently and effectively.

Inbound isn’t perfect, and we don’t want anyone to get swept away with the Inbound tide. Content Marketing has a useful place and purpose, but it’s neither a panacea nor a successor to Outbound. To help maintain a balanced perspective, here’s a brief overview to help your planning process.

Push vs. Pull…

In the “good old days” of marketing (all of a couple years ago), the two concepts were called PUSH and PULL marketing. “Content Marketing” or “Inbound Marketing” are more recently invented labels for PULL. Similarly, PUSH has been retagged as “Outbound,” “Interruption,” or “Traditional.”

PUSH, OUTBOUND or TRADITIONAL MARKETING generally refers to messages that you “push” to the attention of the target audience. It a sense, you are buying their attention via broadcast or print ads, for example, which interrupt or intrude.

PUSH advantages include the fact that—more so than pull—the advertiser creates and controls a precise message; it is succinct and focused as to when, where and how it is seen by a highly targeted audience. Push examples include:

  • Broadcast, Radio, Television Ads
  • Billboards, Outdoor Advertising
  • Outbound Calling
  • Tradeshow
  • Banner, Display Ads
  • Direct Mail
  • Flyers, Circulars, Inserts

INBOUND, CONTENT or PULL MARKETING is less transactional, and more relational, in nature, referring to means that are generally more subtle, providing content of interest, earning attention, establishing a connection and building rapport and relationships.

PULL plays into a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy and (hopefully) raises awareness and creates an early step toward engagement. On the down side, PULL strategies are like fishing with a large net that may pull in an old shoe or a big fish. Responding visitors may or may not be true prospects. Pull examples include:

  • Blog. Website, SEO
  • Podcast, Webinar
  • Video Streaming, Video Channels
  • eNewsletter, Email (subscription; opt-in)
  • Whitepaper, eBook
  • Social Media
  • Publicity, Public Relations

The big idea here—despite the contrarian-sounding headline—is not to condemn or dismiss Inbound Marketing. In fact, we recommend these tactics and often incorporate them in marketing plans…but not at the exclusion of Outbound Marketing efforts.

The winning formula is a carefully considered and detailed marketing plan, which most likely—depending on the target audience and defined goals—will include both PUSH and PULL elements with measured, actual results (ROI).

Digging deeper: read our previous posts, An Intelligent Approach to Creating an Durable Marketing Plan and Internet Marketing is a Media Darling, But Television is an Effective Beast.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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