We have an announcement to make. Outbound marketing is DEAD. Anything and everything you’ve ever been told about television, radio, newspapers, and magazines is a LIE! Forget what you know! The revolution is happening and EVERYTHING is changing. If you and your company don’t take heed and take heed SOON, you will be left out in the cold with outbound marketing while all of your customers, or rather FORMER customers, are inside with inbound marketing where they feel warm and safe. Gone are the days where you could cold call hundreds of people in one day, send thousands of spam emails to people you haven’t even met, or launch an expensive ad campaign on television and radio that TRULY spoke to your audience. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The inbound revolution didn’t happen overnight. Several things have happened to get us to the crossroads we are all standing at now. To truly understand the choice we are facing concerning outbound and inbound marketing, we have to go back to the beginning.
Marketing has grown up a lot over the past few centuries. Starting with its infancy in 1704 when the world saw its first advertisement in the form of a newspaper ad, to eventually exploding into the multi-billion dollar industry we see today. After print media (newspapers, magazines, pamphlets) became a staple for marketers everywhere, the billboard was invented, and soon people everywhere saw huge, towering advertisements alongside roads and buildings all over the country. Then the radio was invented, and people quickly grew used to hearing 30 second and minute long radio advertisements everywhere they went. Then of course, shortly after radio came the television, which was a godsend to marketers because it allowed them to market directly into the homes of their audiences much like radio, except with stunning moving imagery. Then came the internet, then came banner ads, then came email spam, and on and on until one day customers all over the country and the world found themselves overwhelmingly being blasted with and endless barrage of outbound messages wherever they went. These messages became so persistent and unwavering that audiences virtually became blind to any and all advertising. They no longer see outbound advertisements because they are simply a facet of everyday life now. There is nothing special about them anymore. There is no more CONNECTION.
Something has changed. Somewhere during the course of all the radio ads, all of the television commercials, billboard ads, car wraps, magazine ads, and continuous and constant blasts of outbound marketing, customers became numb. They became numb to the efforts of outbound marketing simply because there was SO MUCH of it. Because there was so much of it, the quality of marketing went down and companies and brands forgot their way. They forgot how to CONNECT with their audience. They forgot how to offer VALUE.
See, since the dawn of the internet, the first medium that was invented WITHOUT marketers in mind, there has been a complete shift in the marketing landscape. The entire marketing model, as we know it, has been flipped on its head. Instead of Always Be Closing, like in the famous Alec Baldwin scene in “Glengarry Glen Ross”, it is now Always Be Helping. Instead of A-I-D-A, or Attention, Interest, Decision, and Action, it is A-C-N-D, or Attract, Convert, Nurture, and Delight. Customers don’t want you to come to them anymore. They’re sick and tired of you coming to them. They’ve already heard what you have to say a million times and they’ve already heard what you have to offer a million times. Nowadays, if customers want something, they will come to YOU. They will get on their computers, or their smartphones, or their tablets, and they will research exactly what it is that they want. They don’t need to sift through the mindless clutter of the modern outbound landscape to find what they want buried beneath the heap of empty words and empty promises. They want REAL solutions because they have REAL problems. So guess who customers buy from these days? Companies and brands that HELP them instead of SELL to them.
Think about it for a minute. If you design a company website, and on that website is an endless array of information that is devoted to nothing but HELPING your customers, do you think visitors to your site will have a much more favorable impression of your brand and company? If someone jumps on their desktop and Googles a problem they are experiencing and your company’s website pops up with the answer to their problem, who do you think they will think of first when they need professional help? When you offer VALUE to your customers, or in other words, when you provide answers to questions and solutions to problems, you become a TRUSTED confidante for your visitors. Once you’ve offered VALUE and developed a TRUST with your visitors, you will start to develop meaningful CONNECTIONS with your audience. This is where great companies are made and fake companies fade out into obscurity.
Marketing has always been considered the art of seduction. Consider going out to the bar for a minute. You approach a girl and bombard her with your recent accomplishments, fancy clothing, fat work salary, fast car, and everything that makes YOU so awesome. You give her your number and ask her to call you later. Do you think she will? Maybe, but the odds of her being impressed are slim and you did nothing to separate yourself from the thousands of other guys who crawl bars looking for girls just like her. Now let’s approach the same situation, except you sit down and listen to the girl. You ask about her and learn about her problems, her worries, what’s been on her mind lately, and where she’s trying to get to. Somewhere throughout the course of the conversation, you are able to answer some questions she has and you are able to establish a connection with her right there in the bar. Once you are both done talking, you give her your number, thank her for her time, and walk out. Do you think she will call you now?
It may be obvious to some why the second girl would call back, or at least call sooner, but if it’s still not clear to you, I’ll try to put it in a different perspective. I’d like to use one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite speakers, Seth Godin, “Don’t strive to be heard while you’re here, strive to be missed when you’re gone.” The girl is more likely to call the second guy back because he established a presence that was missed once he left. The first guy walked up to the girl, and she definitely heard him, but once he left there wasn’t much to miss. She had heard guys come up to her a million times before and tell her about their recent accomplishments, fancy clothes, fat work salaries, and what made THEM awesome. But the guy who sat down with her, listened to her, and helped her solve her problems was different. He offered VALUE to her and established a meaningful CONNECTION by HELPING her. Something that she remembered even after he walked out of the bar doors, while the first guy was pushed to the back of her mind with all of the other guys who have done the exact same thing.
THIS is the very essence of outbound vs. inbound marketing. The question you need to ask yourself now is very simple, do you want to be left out in the cold with outbound marketing trying to get inside and find the girl? Or do you want to be inside with the girl, learning about her, and establishing a long-lasting connection that will benefit both of you over the course of a lifetime? The choice is completely up to you.
Are you INbound?
Or are you OUTbound?
Certified Inbound Marketing Strategist | Content Marketing Specialist | Social Media Strategist | SEO