« Inbound Marketing: What's an Outbound Marketer To Do? » inbound marketing-this image shows a bunch of gray question marks scattered on floor with bright red exclamation point popping out from among all the gray question marksFor many marketers who built their careers on traditional outbound marketing, the new inbound marketing methodologies can be unsettling (and even seem a bit unfair). But it does not have to be that way.

I Used To Curse Inbound Marketing

My 20+ years in marketing and advertising were built on successful implementation of outbound marketing methodologies. Just at the point in my career when I should be reaping the benefit of all my years of outbound marketing for Fortune 500 companies and others, my experience suddenly was irrelevant. At least that is how it seemed to me a year ago. Almost overnight the emphasis moved away from outbound marketing methodologies (ads, brochures, direct mail, trade shows, etc.) to newer inbound methodologies (keyword strategies, search engine optimized content, blogs, social media, lead nurturing email campaigns, etc.).

What a Difference a Year Makes (Long Live Inbound!)

I faced a dilemma one year ago.

OPTION 1 - I could give up my marketing career and pursue other interests (the reason being that I could not and should not be expected to learn an entire new marketing game plan at this stage of my career).

OPTION 2 - I could buck up and learn the new stuff... prove I wasn’t a dinosaur... prove my 20+ years of outbound marketing experience was still worth something in an inbound world (the reason being that I love marketing and could not face walking away from a career I’ve enjoyed so much and for so long).

Obviously, I chose OPTION 2. And I’m glad I did.

Understanding the Trend Toward Inbound: Buyers Need More Control

As marketers, we’ve always been attuned to buyer wants vs. buyer needs. Buyer wants are the “nice to haves,” such as in-car satellite radio. Buyer needs are  the “must haves,” such as automobile air bags. For most consumers in-car satellite radio is something they could easily live without, but they won’t even consider buying a car without air bags.

Similarly, inbound marketing has quickly grown into an essential buyer need. Companies that don’t pursue it will simply be ignored by potential buyers. What it boils down to is that, regardless of what you’re selling -- be it hamburgers, cars or insurance -- buyers want more control in the information gathering and buying processes. They want to do these things in their own time frame and on their own terms.

Inbound methodologies help companies preserve their marketing strength among more independent, control-minded consumers. Inbound marketing succeeds in today's marketplace because it channels marketing messages into a “permission” based model, rather than the “interruption” model on which all outbound marketers built their careers. The permission model means you simply design your messages so that customers find you online (rather than actively pursue customers through ads, direct mail, trade shows, etc.).

The Message Isn't All that Different, But the Delivery Is

Outbound marketers who take the time to learn the basics of inbound marketing will be taking a huge step forward in preserving their careers. I've learned first-hand that my 20+ years of outbound marketing experience is perfectly relevant in an inbound marketing world.

I'm not creating glossy 12-page brochures anymore, but I am helping create and implement digital inbound marketing programs that are turbo-charged lead-generating engines. Instead of creating beautifully-crafted selling pieces designed to grab the attention of potential buyers, I now provide the optimized digital content companies need to make it easy for buyers to find them online. It's very saitisfying work because inbound marketing really does work. 

What Do You Think?

Have you struggled finding a place where your outbound marketing experience fits in an inbound marketing world? Have you successfully made the transition? How did you succeed? Please share your thoughts in the comments section. And, as always, thanks for reading.

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