Marketing concepts are the basis of marketing success for small businesses. Marketing as a discipline is all about generating fresh leads into your business whether that be via a contact form request for further information, using social media to engage customers, getting the word out offline with word of mouth marketing, or other examples of marketing strategies for small businesses.
In both online and offline marketing, you can divide the approaches taken to acquire new business leads into 2 main marketing concepts – inbound marketing and outbound marketing. While many of the examples will be mainly focused around digital marketing, you can transfer this knowledge of marketing concepts into an offline situation for your business as well.
There are many articles and posts on the internet that define what inbound marketing is and who the initial attribution should be given to. Inbound marketing boils down to a basic marketing concept: The customer contacts you.
With the concept of inbound marketing, you attract the customer to your brand when they are looking for what you are selling by placing relevant content and opinions in the places potential customers will find them. Here’s how the inbound marketing concept works:
Being in the right place at the right time, whether you are a sandwich shop located outside of a busy train station with a special offer, or a small business website marketing yourself to a local community via Google, you are visible to the customer when they are looking for what you are selling. The marketing concept of inbound marketing is about being in front of the customer when they are looking for you.
Marketing in general is effective, but inbound marketing is generally seen as one of the most cost effective marketing concepts. In theory, when using inbound marketing strategies, your business is only appearing when the customer is ready to engage. While this is true and inbound marketing does not involve mass broadcasts, inefficiencies may still exist. Consistent marketing is an integral part of the inbound marketing concept and will make success more likely.
The concept of inbound marketing is about engaging your customer with helpful, relevant information. When the content you produce and the positioning activities you conduct place your brand and products in the eyes of the customer, you have already won over half the battle. The customer has a higher initial trust level and is ready to listen from Day 1 of any communications.
They have found you and they have made the active decision to contact you as they are actively looking for the products and services you are selling.
As far as marketing concepts go, the flip side to inbound marketing is known as outbound marketing. This is the concept by which you and your sales and marketing team actively pursue customers. Whether or not they are looking to engage your services, with the outbound marketing concept you are working to convince potential customers that they need your services. Here’s how the outbound marketing concept works:
Whether it be via the telephone, direct mail, or canvasing potential customers door-to-door, with outbound marketing you are approaching customers from the perspective of convincing them to engage in your services.
Of the two marketing concepts provided, outbound marketing requires you to create and generate interest at the first step. This can be a positive thing, as you are seeking to identify customers that are not aware of your business or do not feel they have an immediate need for your products and services. But this type of marketing can also lead to a lot of rejection.
Measuring these two marketing concepts in terms of dollars – going out to the market and trying to generate interest (outbound) versus being in the right place at the right time (inbound) is always going to be unfair. These marketing concepts are like comparing apples and oranges – they are both marketing concepts but they are fundamentally different.
As you are generating the interest rather than targeting the customer as they are looking, you are going to have a much lower conversion rate. Speaking to 200 people to get 2-3 customers is not uncommon when cold calling. Not many people send direct mail shots to only 100 people – Sending 1000’s is the norm due to the low response rates.
All this effort leads to a higher acquisition cost when measured against the concept of inbound marketing.
With outbound marketing, the customer often will not be aware of your business. You have interrupted them – whether that be when they are thumbing through the local newspaper or if they are focused at work and you call them up – so you need to work extra hard to get them to listen to you and to eventually trust you to the point of engaging with your products and services.
It’s hard to know which marketing concepts will work for your business until you try! Depending on your budget, you may want to engage in different methods. Each business has to be viewed as an individual case study and feasibility study but generally, a well managed hybrid campaign of both marketing concepts is often recommended.
Try out some different marketing concepts and see what works for your small business!
This post was written by Gareth Hoyle for ThriveHive. Gareth is a Managing Director at Marketing Signals, an online marketing agency and a co-founder of LinkRisk. You can follow him on Twitter @search_magician