Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing
As a marketing major, the stuff of many (many many many) class discussions is outbound versus inbound marketing. Which is superior, which is more effective, which is more measurable, which is more appropriate.
What it boils down to is this:
- Outbound marketing (traditional marketing) focuses on pushing messages, advertisements, and ideas out to the public. When it’s done well, it’s targeted. When it’s not, it’s more of a “spray and pray” approach. The key to outbound: interruption.
- Inbound marketing focuses on pulling people in, often through the use of SEO, lead nurturing, targeted content marketing, and multi-dimensional brands with distinct personalities. The key to inbound: attracting consumers who are already looking for what you have to offer.
Inbound Marketing Connoisseur
A major player in the marketing field is David Meerman Scott. He recently wrote a book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, where he makes a strong case for inbound, content-driven marketing. He also writes on his blog, Web Ink Now. (Honestly, his blog is a little lame visually. Clip art in the header…?) I digress…back to the content, which is rockin’.
Scott wrote a post entitled “Saying NO To Squeezing Your Buyers,” where he takes his stance on the to-require-or-not-to-require email registration before downloading free online content. As the title indicates, he is against “squeezing buyers,” or requiring the input of an email address for downloads. His reasons are compelling.
“- Registration is a holdover from direct mail days (when a business reply card was the way to fulfill a white paper request). Is a direct mail technique right for today’s hyper-connected web?
– Requiring registration GREATLY reduces the number of people who download something.
– Because bloggers do not like to send their readers to something that could cause them to get onto unwanted lists, when there is a registration requirement, very few (if any) bloggers will talk it up and you get little or no inbound links.
– When lots of people link to your stuff, you rise in the search results.”
I wholeheartedly agree. I am exponentially more inclined to download an e-book, watch a video, or read a blog post if I am not required to enter my email address. In fact, I can’t think of the last time I entered my email in order to gain access to said items. Additionally–if people are entering an email, it’s probably their junk mail address. You can’t track the ROI on that anyway!
I believe this blog’s lesson aligns nicely with inbound marketing overall. Attracting people, allowing them to freely access and share your ideas, which in turn enables your content to go viral–that is inbound marketing through and through.
Real World Application
In what has to be one of the earliest companies to
do away with resist outbound marketing altogether, No-Ad Sunscreen, established in 1962, has been hugely successful…without, as its name entails, the use of advertisements of any kind. On the brand’s website, the company promises quality suncare products without hype or gimmicks of any kind.
Impressively, the product has been named a “Best Buy” for four consecutive years, and was named the Best Overall Sunscreen by Consumer Reports in 2011. It’s also the cheapest sunscreen on the market at roughly $0.59 an ounce!
Although the product wholly resists outbound marketing, it doesn’t seem to be intentionally aligned with inbound marketing either. With only 29 Facebook followers, just 2 (yes, two!) tweets, and 0 Pinterest pins, it seems the only marketing No-Ad is after is putting its product on store shelves and letting the price, value, and brand loyalists do the work. This strategy (or lack thereof) is working. Here’s why I think it is:
I have seen moms applying No-Ad to their children at my community pool and the beach; perhaps the company relies on the inherently social aspect of days in the sun to sell the product. It’s not a bad idea– I can hear the poolside conversation now:
“What kind of sunscreen is that, I’ve never heard of it?”
“No-Ad. I grabbed it at Target. It was so much cheaper than the others, I figured I’d see if it worked.”
“No-Ad? That explains why I haven’t heard of it. Do you like it?”
“Yes, actually. We go through so much sunscreen and it gets so expensive…I’ll definitely buy it again.”
I think this product in particular would tip many-a-marketers apple carts, which gives me a sort of distinct happiness. The company literally does nothing, inbound or outbound, and yet somehow manufactures and sells one of the top suncare brands. As I mentioned previously, I believe the success can be attributed to the fact that sunscreen is not a “private” product–it is widely seen, discussed, and openly used.
This same strategy would not work with, say, feminine hygiene products or even body wash, which are both inherently private.
What do you think? Outbound or inbound? Ad or No-Ad? Fill me in!