Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Posted by John Aikin
on January 19, 2018

Most of how we've learned to market and win clients is based on the notion of stealing customer attention from something else, of getting in their way, or getting them to focus on our message long enough to cause them to do something.

We know how to educate, address fears or desires, or tap into pre-existing needs. But at its core it's still about making people shift their attention away from something they are interested in to focus on our message.

Music stops playing on the radio, football games take time-outs, entire pages of newspapers carry no news, and highway scenery gets replaced with big squares of (hopefully) compelling information. We do all this, and more, so that we can interrupt potential customers and tell them something we think is important.

If we’re looking at marketing in general, I think most of you who have been managing a team and are responsible for bringing in new projects will agree - it’s getting harder.  

And maybe instead of saying it’s getting harder, we can say “traditional” marketing is getting harder.

These notes might ring true to what you’re experiencing in the office now.

  • Your reputation only helps if people know you exist, or that your services exist.
  • Networking events are not as fruitful as they once were.  They are filled with non-clients, non-referrals, competitors, and so on.
  • It’s getting harder to have face time with those decision makers in companies, and I’m talking about actual meetings, not the app.
  • It really requires the dedication of a full time person - not someone who is balancing a million things to just add this in the mix.
  • And young or small companies seem have it harder than those who have been around for ages.

Then we take a look at some statistics that further backs up this mindset:

  • 86% of people skip tv ads
  • 91% have unsubscribed from emails
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened
  • 200Million people on the do not call list.

What this is showing us is that we, as a society, are being selective about what channels we allow to come in. In a world where technology changes a rapid speed, here’s what we know for certain: It’s easier than ever to turn off messages and advertising if you don’t want to see it.

  • We pay the extra $1.99 for an ad-free app.
  • We use a newsreader to get our news stories without having to worry about print or online advertising.
  • We rigorously work and rework our Facebook feed to better ignore ads and promoted posts.
  • We pay for streaming television, or at least use our DVRs, to avoid commercials.
  • We pay for streaming radio, or torrent all our music, so we don't have to listen to... what? Ads.

Are you seeing a theme here? For all the time spent online - regardless of device - it seems we're almost working harder to find ways to narrow our input and content, and we often seem to start with outbound advertisements.


People used to love marketing. What happened?

The answer is simple: Humans have changed.

In the 90s, office hours were centered on a standard work day.  it gradually gets longer over time, but we still worked in a cubicle like most of America.

Now, if you’re like me, the day literally never ends. I was laying in bed last night at 11:30 responding to emails I didn’t have the time to earlier that day before I left. We aren’t sitting in an office anymore, having people who want to sell us stuff schedule time with us to show us their new products or service.

Why? Because we look things up ourselves. When you have a question or are looking for something specifically, where’s the first place you go? Google. Who picks up yellow pages? What the hell is that anymore anyway?

Essentially this boils down to the fact that the client - or customer, or consumer - is in complete control of this situation. We as consumers can shut a channel off that’s reaching out to us. We can make all that marketing someone is doing and spending tons of money and time on very easily go away.

In order to attract our ideal clients, we have to provide them with something they will LOVE.
This process, my friends, is called inbound marketing.


Instead of buying ad space (billboards, magazines, newspapers, online ads, etc.), buying email lists, or cold calling, inbound marketing focuses on creating awesome content that pulls people toward your website where they can learn more about what you sell on their own time.

The inbound methodology has 4 main stages. We won’t go into detail on this post about each one because each stage really deserves an entire blog feed dedicated to each topic. But, to provide a brief synopsis:

Attract is the first.  It’s centered around bringing people to your company through content creation, social media, blogs, videos, etc. You want to attract those ideal clients by creating content that is valuable and easy to find.  What kind of pain points do your clients have?  what kind of solutions do you offer to them?  How can you help them by telling YOUR story?

Convert is next. Conversion happens when we allow those ideal clients to exchange their information, like maybe just their name and email, for a free piece of valuable content, like a downloadable form, or a checklist, or a webinar.

Close is centered on lead nurturing techniques to help bring people further through the buyers journey to becoming an actual client.

And delight is about helping those in your pipeline become promoters FOR you.

To run effective inbound marketing campaigns for ourselves and our clients, we use a software called HubSpot.

HubSpot is basically, if I had to put it into just one word, KICKASS. Again, this deserves it’s own post as well, so we won’t go into detail here. Long story short - we love HubSpot for our inbound marketing, and we think you should, too.

If you are looking for something new to try for your own business, inbound marketing is definitely the way to go. Don’t overlook it. It will change the way your company generates leads

We’re going to go way back. Deep into the archives of the Web Canopy Studio blog, we had some gems written that really stood out for what they were at that point in time. In early 2014 we wrote a blog about outbound marketing vs inbound marketing, and it got some great reviews. Here’s a recap of what we wrote, and a spin on what we think about it today.

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