One B2B social media expert who’s got it wrong.

I’m not a social marketing expert. I don’t pretend to be. My expertise and knowledge are in the outbound arena. I’ve written many times that I still believe in outbound marketing because I see it working cost-effectively for all my B2B clients. They use it to reliably fill their pipeline.

Yes, inbound marketing is cheaper. Yes, it works. But users of it cannot control the volume or the timing of the inbound inquiries it receives. Outbound marketers using proven B2B direct marketing practices can.

Here’s the reason for my rant. Perusing B2B Marketing Zone, I saw the reposting of the blog by Dragan Mestrovic on his inBlurbs site “How to save 62 percent of your budget with inbound marketing.”

He knows inbound marketing. His advice and the statistics he presents are all perfectly valid.

This rant concerns what he says about outbound marketing because, on that subject, he’s way off base.

Outbound marketing communication is one-way.
Initially, it is. A B2B marketer sends a message that reaches out to a targeted group. That message, however, is designed to generate a response. The minute there is a response, the communication instantly becomes two-way.

Outbound marketers’ customers are sought out.
Of course they are. But the customers being reached are not random. By accessing targeted databases of opt-in customers, members of groups, trade show attendees, carefully compiled databases and more, the B2B marketing firm is reaching out to those companies and individuals who match the profile of their customers.

Outbound direct marketing has been around for so many years that the level of database sophistication is staggering. Unlike what Mestrovic proposes — that marketers fill out a persona sheet to build a customer profile — an outbound B2B marketer uses data companies such as Acxiom, Accudata or one of many others to build a statistically sound customer CHAID or regression model. That model is then matched against rental lists to find prospects that match the customer profile. There’s no guesswork involved.

Outbound marketers provide little or no added value.
Do inbound marketers think they invented content? It’s been around as long as direct marketing has been around. It used to be called an “offer.” That’s how outbound marketers get a response — by offering educational information. The very subject of the content is designed to generate qualified leads. B2B marketers test various offers against each other to let the response from the market tell them which is the best.

Outbound marketers rarely seek to educate or entertain.
See above about education. Entertainment can be part of any marketing message — outbound or inbound. But it needs to be used carefully, as a poor use of “cleverness” or “humor” in marketing can backfire and negatively affect the brand.

Mestrovic says that outbound marketing is losing its efficacy. But in the real world, B2B companies calculate what they are willing to pay to get a qualified lead and, once they do, they’ll find that outbound marketing is still a bargain and that, unlike inbound marketing, it can predictably generate those leads.

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5 Comments

  • By karen marchetti, December 28, 2011 @ 9:04 am

    Hi Susan,

    I enjoyed your conclusions about “inbound marketers” and what they think they invented. It seems that everyone digital-focused believes:

    1. The copy concepts used on websites to sell were “created” or “discovered” by digital marketers, when in fact, just about all of their “discoveries” have been used in direct marketing for decades.

    2. Just about everything about online marketing is new. I just read a post by a well-known blogger who, I thought, had a direct marketing background. Yet, she stated something like “online marketing isn’t like offline, because online prospects scan . . .” Geez. Wasn’t it back in the 1980s (or perhaps earlier??) that direct marketers began talking about making direct mail scannable?

    3. “Call to Action” is a new concept? Sorry to report that direct marketing has been crafting effective Offers and calls to action, probably for centuries. (I think I read the first mail-order catalogs were created in Europe in the 14th century or so.)

    It seems that Digital-focused marketers believe that a new medium suddenly changes the way the eye works, or the way people search for information, or the way people are persuaded.

    But in fact, selling is selling. And in most digital-focused media, we’re generating leads or selling direct — and tracking those results. And it is the tools of direct marketing — the copy best practices, the “move the eye to the response” best practices, the Offer best practices, and the analytics — that continue to make direct marketers some of the smartest digital marketers around.

  • By Susan Fantle, December 28, 2011 @ 9:18 am

    Thanks Karen. Those of us who are passionate about direct marketing get it.

  • By Nick Stamoulis, January 2, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

    While inbound marketing is gaining momentum in B2B, there is certainly still a place for outbound marketing, or more traditional marketing practices. The key is to be diverse with marketing efforts. Sticking to only one or two strategies narrows the target audience.

  • By Blake, January 9, 2012 @ 2:41 am

    Hi Susan,

    I totally agree with you.

    Dragan’s article reads like it was written by someone who has never run a marketing department. Relying on a corporate blog is silly, especially if no one has ever heard of your corporation. SEO as “cheap?” What world is he living in?

    It seems like with the internet, there’s a “brave new world of Marketing” about once every 6 months. Oddly enough, the CMOs who run the departments and spend the money don’t seem to ever bite. Go figure that the people with money and responsibility seem to stay focused on what’s effective rather than what’s cool.

  • By Susan Fantle, January 9, 2012 @ 2:51 am

    Thanks Blake — very well said.

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