Here’s how to keep it straight: Outbound is out, inbound is in. Pretty much. 

Outbound marketing is what we all grew up on: radio, TV, newspaper and magazine advertising, direct mail, billboards, telemarketing and, recently, email blasts. In a world where marketers had lousy tools to measure success, they used what they had: intrusive, poorly-targeted messages fired shotgun-style at the public. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is highly-targeted, measurable, and usually non-intrusive because we consumers invite it in. According to Hubspot, “inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic.” Makes sense, right?

Chuck Moran as a bald shop marketer guyLet’s say I open an online business that sells products to bald people. When I’m trying to reach new customers (bald people and the folks who love them), instead of using outbound marketing techniques like newspaper ads and direct mail campaigns that land on people who could care less because they have full heads of hair, the new world of inbound marketing suggests a better approach. Thinking inbound, I’m now attracting bald people to my e-commerce website with blog and Facebook posts about how awesome it is to be bald. I have an email marketing campaign that bald people have opted into because they are interested in what I have to say. I’m offering myself as an expert in the field of chrome-domeness, and I have tools that measure success. While I may still need some outbound techniques to sell my products, I’m now saying, “come join my tribe. It’s fun here and I’ve got what you need.”

I’m currently consulting with a Charlottesville architect and an upscale restaurant in Maryland on their marketing mix. Why a mix? If outbound is out and inbound is in, why keep any outbound? Because a mix still works. Telephone sales calls and in-person presentations are outbound, and they still work.

Stay tuned. I’m just starting to get into this subject. It’s fun, and it’s “in.”