The Accomplished Solopreneur

Issue 22.45

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Two kinds of marketing, and where you need to start

There are two kinds of marketing you need to know about. And one of them is better when you’re just starting out.

The two kinds of marketing are:

  • Outbound marketing
  • Inbound marketing

I’ll start with a quick definition, then we’ll look at the pros and cons, and then why you need to start with one.

A quick definition

The names are somewhat intuitive:

  • With outbound marketing, you go out into the world and connect with people to see if they need what you’re offering.
  • With inbound marketing, you put content out into the world, and wait for people to come to you.

The pros and cons of outbound marketing

The best known outbound marketing technique is cold calling.

From my experience, there are two kinds. The first is the guy who calls you in the middle of dinner asking if you need your ducts cleaned. Not my favourite kind of marketing because it’s mostly intrusive, ill-timed and unwanted.

Then there are the pros who do true business development. They research the market for businesses who are very likely to need their products or services. They then find the key people in those businesses, and call to see if they would be interested in learning more.

Done well, this kind of cold calling is highly effective, and most often welcomed because the information is valuable, useful and relevant.

Pros of outbound marketing

Outbound marketing is relatively fast compared to inbound marketing (you will see why in just a bit). You can specifically target the people you want to talk to, and with sufficient research and the right presentation, you can discover your potential client’s needs and offer help.

Cons of outbound marketing

There are two big challenges with outbound marketing:

  • You have to reach out. This requires persistence and understanding that you’re going to be rejected a lot.
  • They’re not ready to buy when you reach out. If they’re not interested now, you have to follow up diligently over a long period of time.

With that being said, I know a few professionals who do this for a living and do very well.

Inbound marketing

There are two very well known forms of inbound marketing.

The first is advertising. You see billboards, signs on the sides of buildings, ads on TV or the radio, or flyers in your mail. Done well, advertising can be a great way to make people aware you have something they could be interested in.

The second is content marketing. You write articles like this and publish it on your blog, Medium and LinkedIn. Or you produce videos and publish them on YouTube (up there as one of the most popular search engines around).

Then you wait for people to discover your content and come to you (or more often, your website).

Pros of inbound marketing

There are two big pros with inbound marketing:

  • If you craft your content (or advertising) well, it will be noticed for a long time (the so-called long tail effect). Some of my most-viewed articles on Medium were written over two or three years ago.
  • When they do come to you, they’re really interested. They’ve self-qualified and you know they’re interested because they’re reaching out to you.

Cons of inbound marketing

There are two big challenges with inbound marketing.

  • It takes time to work. Be prepared to wait months or even years before you see consistent, decent results.
  • You have to produce content regularly and consistently. This can take up a lot of time in your working week.

So where should you start?

It is tempting to want to focus on inbound marketing only. After all, who really likes cold calling? And if people come to you when they’re ready (inbound marketing), you don’t have to do all that tedious qualification and lead nurturing, right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Inbound marketing takes a long time to show real effect, and while it’s building momentum, you have to be producing content all the time. That’s a major time commitment.

So if you’re just starting out, and you’re in a hurry (which means all of us), outbound marketing is going to be more effective.

But how do you get around the sleazy phone-call-in-the-middle-of-dinner style of outbound marketing?

Combine the best of inbound and outbound marketing

Inbound marketing generally consists of two phases:

  1. Get content out there and wait for them to come to you.
  2. When they connect, stay top of mind with valuable content.

So here’s a recipe that combines the best of both worlds:

  1. Get content out there and wait for them to come to you (inbound marketing).
  2. Accelerate the rate of getting new leads by reaching out to your target market (outbound marketing), offering them something of value.
  3. When they connect, stay top of mind with valuable content.

Very similar strategies, but with an accelerator.

A few last thoughts

I know a couple of people who don’t do any marketing at all and do very well. But they’re the exception.

For most of us, marketing is going to require that you spend time on it. As much as we like our craft, we won’t have a business without clients, and that requires that you invest time and effort in marketing.

The good news is that the more successful your marketing gets, the more you get to like it.

What would happen to your business if you spent 8 hours a week over the next three months just on marketing?

Hope that helps.