Is Inbound Marketing an old idea?
In 1999 Seth Godin published the book, Permission Marketing proposing that marketers change from traditional print, TV, and direct mail advertising that Godin refers to as “interruption marketing” to permission marketing. In permission marketing customers agree and in fact volunteer to receive your advertising message. Godin says that this method will, “turn strangers into friends and friends into customers.”
In the years since Godin wrote this book, there has been substantial movement in advertising dollars and efforts from outbound marketing via the above advertising media to inbound marketing which might be considered a synonym for Godin’s Permission Marketing. Much of what we non know as inbound marketing is marketing through websites, blogs, and social media. Even today’s traditional interruption marketing often takes advantage of and leverages internet and web capabilities in its approach.
The idea is to get prospects by making it easy to be found, keep connected by providing them with meaningful content and interesting conversation, and then converting them to customers in their time and on their terms. It’s not revolutionary. In fact, well before we were conducting business online, business guru Peter Drucker seemed to be headed in this direction when he proposed that good marketing meant that selling was virtually unnecessary. His famous quote is:
“There will always, one can assume, be need for some selling. But the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous (emphasis added). The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product and service fits him and sells itself.” – Peter Drucker, 1974
If you correlate selling to interruption marketing, you can see Drucker’s point and its relation to what we now refer to as outbound marketing vs inbound marketing. In fact, I’ve read enough Drucker to know that he equated other forms of outbound marketing such as advertising, direct mail, etc. to selling. He really thought of marketing as creating products that satisfied customer needs.
So we come full circle, and begin to recognize that we need to be about helping customers buy products that they need and want rather than annoying them with pushy messaging. Inbound marketing helps us do that.
Is your firm doing more inbound marketing this year than last? What about plans for next year? More inbound marketing efforts or more outbound?