There are two main overarching categories of marketing: outbound marketing and inbound marketing. Most businesses use a blend of both, but will place the bulk of their budget and emphasis on one or the other.
Many people call outbound marketing just plain “marketing” – it’s what most people traditionally think of when they think of marketing. This category includes methods like direct mail, advertising (whether in newspapers, magazines, at bus stops, on television, radio or digital), telemarketing and events.
When you’re doing outbound marketing, you typically start with some knowledge of your customers, such as where they are likely to live or shop, what media they like to watch, even what political party they might most identify with. Then you go out and put your advertising in the places you believe that type of person will see it. That might be direct to their doorstep through direct mail, or in the form of advertising. Essentially, you go out to get them.
Inbound marketing is focused on attracting customers who have already self-identified themselves as wanting the products or services you offer, by creating content and incentives that will feed their interest and make you a natural search destination. If you’re pursuing an inbound marketing strategy, then most likely the cornerstones of your marketing plan will involve a website, content marketing (blogging, podcasting, videos, etc.), search engine optimization (SEO), and social media and other forms of social marketing.
You might also have strong referral programs or strategies for turning existing customers into sources of new customers you’ve not met before. What these marketing methods tend to have in common is that they focus on attracting unknown prospects to your business (bringing them in).
Digital revisited: Where’s the value?
The revival of the term “niche markets,” defined as targeting very specific and focused segments of the market, is not as attractive as it once was due to shrinking ad audiences and increased ad costs. This is putting the squeeze on marketing budgets and ad spends and forcing business owners to ask the question, “Where can we focus our energies with a more sustainable and lasting impact?”
I’m not going to suggest you ditch Google Ad Words, but I want you to rethink how you approach your digital marketing. Consider that for one Google ad campaign that only gets 1,000 views, where the clicks can cost up to $10, a whopping $10,000 is not a sustainable investment. Also remember that buying digital ads means that once your ad is gone, it’s gone for good.
Without a lasting presence how can your online presence grow? Is there a better way?
One option that you can control is inbound marketing. Couple this with SEO and you begin to create a vast footprint. No one can take it away from you. Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever, educating and attracting your market. You aren’t buying clicks; you’re creating lasting value and lasting beacons. Between blogging, images, video, social, search engine optimization (SEO) and directory listings to get it all found, you’re everywhere! That value can be far greater than any other form of advertising, because it sticks.
Consider your online presence as not just a tool to seek out customers interested in your products and services, but to bring them to you. As a great bonus, they may stick around because of your compelling posts, engagement and expertise.
Julie Gorham is the president of Marketing EQ, an end-to-end marketing and customer engagement agency located in Vancouver.