As 2015 draws to a close, you’re probably firming up your 2016 marketing plans…mulling over the wisdom of inbound programs versus outbound initiatives… musing on the merits of print versus digital. Whichever way you go, fulfillment plays a key role in getting your messages delivered.
More on that in a moment. First, a few observations on the whole inbound/outbound discussion.
No Matter How You Market, it’s About Connecting With Your Customers
Outbound marketing proactively reaches out to prospects. It can include print, broadcast and online advertising; cold calls; telemarketing; trade shows/events; email blasts, and direct mail.
Inbound marketing focuses on making it easy for prospects to find you. It can include websites/landing pages; blogs; videos; whitepapers; ebooks; social media and, importantly, search engine optimization.
Proponents of inbound marketing note that it’s cheaper, less “in your face” than outbound, and it gets results. They’ve seen the research:
- Buyers complete 57 percent of the purchasing process before ever talking to a sales person (largely through online searches).
- Inbound delivers 54 percent more leads than traditional outbound marketing.
- And, inbound saves an average of 13 percent in overall cost-per-lead.
Just put good content out there, they reason, and your prospects will find it and come to you.
They’re not wrong – but that’s not the whole picture.
Inbound is like casting a line into the water and waiting for a nibble. It could take awhile.
And, since the content is out there for everyone to find, you may attract a lot of unqualified traffic. Like hooking a sunfish when you really wanted trout.
Worse, if your product, service or methodology is brand new, it’s possible no one will even look for it. How can they, if they don’t know it exists?
That’s where well targeted, outbound communications can get you noticed. Using the fishing analogy again, think of outbound as casting your line into the water – the splash that gets the fish’s attention. Inbound is the lure that attracts them to check it out.
And it works, as a 2013 DiscoverOne survey of 1,000 IT decision makers demonstrates. Survey participants were asked just two questions:
- Did you decide to evaluate a new IT vendor as a result of a cold call or email?
- Did you take an appointment or attend an event as the result of a cold call or email?
Nearly 60 percent of the executives queried said yes to the first question, and 75 answered affirmatively to the second.
Notice that the survey didn’t ask about closing a sale (landing the fish). No doubt, there were more inbound and outbound touches before these execs made a purchase. But outbound got the fish’s attention.
In the end, it’s less a question of which strategy to use than when to use them. Successful marketing depends on your ability to target and connect with your customers at the right time. Sometimes you may initiate the contact; sometimes your customers may approach you. Sometimes your communications involve print; sometimes they’re digital. As long as you keep the conversation going, it’s all good.
Don’t Forget About Delivery
As you work through your year-end planning, don’t overlook the importance of your fulfillment services partner building relationships with prospects and customers.
Whether you’re sending marketing collateral, direct mail or email; whether your communications are outbound or sent in response to a query, fulfillment is the conduit through which many of your messages get to your audiences.
Beyond delivering your messages quickly and accurately, better fulfillment companies provide solutions to help you manage costs, enhance your productivity and boost your ROI. If you’re not already taking advantage of these, be sure to ask your vendor about the advantages of online fulfillment and content management, customized marketing collateral, digital printing, print management, kitting and binding services and more.
What was once a simple matter of putting printed materials in a box for mailing distribution is now a complicated mashup of online and offline channels that requires a deep understanding of today’s trends, challenges and opportunities. To learn more on the Future of Fulfillment download this FREE eBook.