Like two sides of a coin, there are always two extremes that exhibit contrasting approaches to solve a problem. From Reds or Blues in the American Politics to Tea or Coffee in your evening break, everybody has a choice to go with. Both get their pros and cons evaluated and a decision is taken based on the priority given. This article series is an effort to erase this dichotomy of seeing contrasting things and to explore the middle-ground.
It is quite common to see businesses having an “either-or” mindset when it comes to selling their product or service. In the case of Business Development, the decision is to go either with outbound marketing or inbound marketing strategy. But, there is never a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to marketing. It is now quite clear that extremes will not work anytime, and you should find an in-between gray matter that suits the best for your business.
Outbound marketing and Inbound marketing are the two primary types of marketing. Having lead generation as a common goal, inbound and outbound efforts should be juxtaposed in any business development strategy.
Inbound marketing is making more sense to adapt after the internet era when companies like HubSpot talked about it for the first time. So many companies adopted inbound-first or inbound-only business development methodologies by that time. But having a hype-cycle effect on businesses, they got to fail miserably because of the peak of inflated expectations. The over-promising but under-delivering nature of these new trends inevitably leads to the trough of disillusionment.
On the other hand, there are some companies that wholly rely on outbound efforts as they are skeptical about the neoteric ideas. There is a huge risk of losing out to competitors. Decision-making in businesses has changed a lot from gut-based to more data-based or proven solutions when approaching a problem. The decision-makers naturally would do research on the internet before entering into a discussion or brainstorming session. This opens up an enormous door to occupy their mind space for your competitors if you could not embrace inbound marketing at the start.
Having upsides and downsides for both extremes, a balanced approach is optimal. Outbound marketing and inbound marketing should operate hand-in-hand to achieve the pinnacle in successful business development. Inbound marketing is an informative approach that helps your prospects in finding solutions for a problem holistically and subtly talks about your product/service that may be a part of the solution. While outbound marketing is more of talking about the product/service directly by addressing the problems they solve and talking about why they should choose you rather than your competitors (Unique Selling Proposition).
Inbound marketing efforts are always cheap but take a long time to yield. For quicker sales boost, companies can start with costlier outbound efforts in parallel with creating content on the internet. Digital innovations also paved the way for more outbound approaches like email reach-outs, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, etc. which helps you build your pipeline faster. Some may convert, and some may not.
For a start-up, this conversion rate is obviously low. But gradually, you are building up your contact list, either as a follower on your LinkedIn page or as a subscriber to your Newsletter. Here comes the inbound marketing part that reminds your prospects again and again about your brand, simultaneously helping out a few not on your radar. Slowly, your brand will get more visibility getting more demo requests, etc., or even wins back your lost customers.
This is how both outbound and inbound marketing efforts should work hand-in-hand. You should never slide into the fallacy of a false dilemma, neither ignoring a technique nor embracing it at the exclusion of the other. Not every trend will blossom. Many will fade out. There are many great options in the middle. Try leveraging both the extremes, erasing this false dichotomy.