It’s Not All About Inbound Marketing – and Never Has Been

Sometimes when I’m talking with a younger client about their marketing budget – and these days, every client is younger than me – I want to tell them about the olden days.

Once upon a time, for anyone to know about your business, you had to advertise. I’m not talking about “Mad Men – Madison Avenue” type advertising. I mean the basics. The Yellow Pages. You may not remember the Yellow Pages directories, but they were the internet before the internet existed. These five-pound yellow directories were where your local prospects let their fingers do the walking, and your ad had to do the talking.

To put this in perspective, for a local business in the early eighties, like say a small design firm, you would need to have a display ad in the local yellow pages under “Graphic Design.” But you would also need to have a similar ad under “Commercial Art.” And both ads would cost you about $750 per month.

In addition to that expense, each business phone line you had at your office would cost you at least $100 per month, including your dedicated fax number.

That’s just your local “pull marketing” expense. If you needed to do proactive “push marketing,” you either “dialed for dollars” or did direct mail or both. And neither was cheap in time or money.

To reach an audience beyond your local market, you either exhibited at trade shows, paid for trade advertising or invested in befriending the centers of influence in your industry and leveraging those relationships for exposure. And you probably needed to deploy all these efforts to achieve awareness, attract interest, and support sales.

Believe it or not, all of the old-school traditional tactics I’ve just described are still relevant and viable today. Except for the yellow pages ads–but there are modern-day equivalents for that.

Flash forward, and we talk a lot about inbound marketing. And we encourage our clients to invest in the methodology just as we do ourselves. I often ask clients to think of this way: Why spend all your marketing budget trying to find new business? Why not invest some of it to help new business find you?

We also challenge our clients to buck up and invest in traditional marketing including direct (digital and print), event-based (physical and virtual), display advertising (online and print), and guerilla marketing based on a balanced strategy and willingness to take some risk.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “It’s not all about inbound marketing and never has been“. A sustainable and ever-improving marketing program requires a multi-channel strategy based on a reasonable budget and a process for analyzing ROI so that you can concentrate reinvestment in what’s working and eliminate what’s not.

Based on my experience, I know that marketing is not a place for lazy people. Those that have a passion for it continue to develop their knowledge and skills. And they aren’t afraid to take risks. I also believe that it takes a “Never Quit Learning” mindset to make it in marketing.

Just today, a co-worker shared this article on “forget everything about keyword-driven SEO you think you know.” It’s time to develop and deploy a “Topics and Clusters” strategy on your website. I think it’s worth your time to read it.

Did you check it out? The only good excuse would be that you already know all there is to know on the subject.

Now let’s all get back to work.



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