A Quick Solution to a Modern Marketing Problem

Definition: Outbound Marketing (n) is the traditional form of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience.

Ink-on-paper marketing products are decreasing. That’s likely no surprise to you. Outbound marketing pieces such as direct mail, rack cards, flyers, booklets and print ads are rapidly being replaced by digital alternatives. If there is a light at the end of the outbound marketing tunnel, it can be assumed it’s the headlight of a digital marketing train barreling toward your business.

Take a step back from the tsunami of websites, tablet apps or blogs, and you will find that marketers have been approaching outbound marketing the wrong way the past few years. Marketers have been missing out on the opportunity to use the same techniques from their digital marketing to improve the results of their outbound marketing. Catalogs and booklets used for product information storage are goners. There is no substitute for cheap and nearly unlimited free digital storage. However, outbound marketing pieces of direct mail, flyers, rack cards, print ads, etc. can be re-designed and re-written to drive the same results as inbound marketing products like slide decks, eBooks, blogs, etc.

Definition: Inbound Marketing (n) is promoting a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, SEO, social media, and other forms of content marketing.

What’s the point of all the inbound marketing products anyway? The goal is to drive visitors to their web page looking for free information so that names and addresses can be captured and stored in their marketing automation systems for qualification, follow up and closing. So why do we continue to produce direct mail and flyers that are trying to “sell” rather than “help,”

like our inbound marketing products? We still use outbound marketing (i.e. print) just like we have done since Gutenberg invented the printing press.

Wake up business owners! Use outbound marketing to drive prospects to your website. You could not possibly convince a prospect to buy from you on an 8.5×11 glossy flyer. But it’s absolutely plenty of space to print your website and blog address loud and proud. How about offering free helpful advice tips from existing eBooks and webinars linking to more information on your printed materials? Don’t just sell! Be helpful, just like your inbound marketing content.

Quit going for the close every time you print a brochure, rack card, print ad, etc. You are not going to earn a customer from your sales literature. Nobody likes to be sold to, but everybody likes to buy. And they like to buy from vendors they trust and respect. Build trust and respect in your outbound marketing the same way you are building trust and respect from your inbound marketing.

Definition: Integrated Marketing (n) attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, public relations, direct marketing, websites, and social media so that all work together as a unified force.

Understand that your outbound marketing no longer exists to be the sole source of information for buyers, despite the fact that’s what we have done since 1439 AD. Your outbound products exist to create awareness of your company. They exist to drive customers to your website to capture them in your marketing automation system. They exist to act like your inbound marketing, but better. Why better? Have you noticed how many email messages fill your inbox every day? Have you noticed how many direct mail pieces you receive every day? If your email inbox and USPS mail box are like mine, it’s nearly a 50:1 ratio of emails to direct mail.

Start using direct mail and advertising again because nobody else is.

Your marketing is going to be noticed because there is a lot less competition for your attention. Start mailing printed newsletters with links or prompts to your website and blog. I bet your competition is using email to do it. Create rack cards, flyers and banners that invite prospects to learn more by using QR Codes which make it easy to access your digital sites.

Ah, the much abused and maligned QR Code! Used properly these things are gold. Don’t take your customers to a static home page when they scan it. Take them to a landing page to sign up for your blog, webinar, eBook, etc. When creating a QR Code, make sure your prospects’ experience is delightful, not disappointing. And don’t say QR Codes are ugly. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A properly designed QR Code that helps drive website visitors from non-digital channels is a thing of beauty indeed.

Outbound marketing has forever been changed by its inbound marketing digital cousin, but outbound marketing should continue to thrive in a new era if used as part of an integrated marketing campaign.