Marketing, as we knew it, has changed. It's time to delve a little deeper into inbound and outbound marketing and how these changes affect SMEs. I give simple introductory definitions of inbound and and outbound marketing. I also explore if outbound marketing is dead, and whether inbound marketing is the answer for SME businesses.

Inbound marketing 
Any activity that involves earning the interest and respect of your audience, rather than buying it. Inbound marketing is the act of creating free valuable content which you share through blogs, social media channels and ebooks, for example. This content does not sell or pitch. Instead it solves problems. It is useful. It is entertaining. Inbound marketing is also known as attraction marketing because it draws your audience to your organisation through appealing, useful and engaging content that they actually want to experience.

It's the kind of content that your audience would want, feel good about, appreciate and thank you for. Valuable content positively influences your audience in favour of your message, brand or course. It helps organisations build relationships.

Hubspot describes this as lovable marketing. They have created a series of slides on lovable marketing from leading experts. View them here.

Outbound marketing
The stuff you have to buy to promote your business is called outbound marketing. You buy attention through marketing that involves radio and TV advertisements, cold calling and telemarketing for example. today, I find that most (not all) outbound marketing is unsolicited, unwanted, intrusive and irrelevant.

Is outbound marketing dead?
Not necessarily. Outbound marketing can be used successfully alongside inbound marketing. A radio advert used as part of a marketing campaign that stretches across traditional and social media could be quite successful. The radio is just another avenue for an organisation to reach it's audience. The most important points here are ensuring each chosen communication channel is relevant to the target audience, and that the campaign is recognisable as one, across multiple channels.

There is also a notable change taking place, particularly on TV adverts. Adverts are becoming more and more entertaining. This is an example of outbound marketing evolving so that it becomes less of an interruption and more of a positive experience. So much so, that the best TV adverts become major talking points in themselves, as opposed to boring hard sell adverts that you want to switch off.

Is inbound marketing the answer?
Not necessarily. It is the preferred choice by many because it is more achievable. It is affordable and realistically doable. In fact Hubspot research has found that inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional, outbound marketing.

Valuable content that your audience seeks out is the kind of content that people like, share and interact with. Thus it can create reach and influence far beyond the most expensive outbound marketing technique. But you had better make sure the content you create is actually valuable to your audience. There are many examples of people trying to use inbound marketing techniques, and failing, because their content is boring, repetitive and uninspiring.

We're interested in you - how are you using inbound and outbound marketing for your business?

AuthorSara Drawwater