Inbound Marketing is the New Normal
The rumors of traditional marketing's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Perhaps the singular fundamental change in the marketing of the current epoch is the shift from intrusive message broadcasting to strategic message placement. This shift has been variously referred to as the rise of inbound and the fall of outbound.
The Times, They Are a Changin’
Whereas in the past companies would hawk their wares shouting indiscriminately across airwaves, a screen, phone, or billboard to whomever so happened to be on the other side, today the zeitgeist is to avoid aggressive promotion and instead focus on making your product/service readily accessible and attractive to those seeking it.
It's an ongoing process. What began with Rod Serling interrupting content consumption with an unrelated pitch to buy Chesterfield King Cigarettes gave way to the subtler, content-infused suggestion of Bruce Willis smoking Gauloise cigarettes and looking like a badass.
Today, modern marketing tactics have advanced beyond mere product placement to offer direct value to the customer (often even straining connection to the actual product).
This change has been reinforced and magnified by a trifecta of social evolutions that complement and feed off one another:
- A Generally more-informed and more active consumer base (Welcome to the Information Age!)
- The advent of social media
- A more seamless media-life integration
If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. Today, people expect marketing material to address their existing interests in a substantive way, offering value that can withstand intelligent scrutiny, at a convenient time and in a convenient place.
At its best, inbound marketing endeavors to give the audience direct value, usually in the form of information or entertainment that exists as a natural extension of a company’s product/service offering.
The Reason Behind the Rhyme
What was the locus for this fundamental shift in marketing? Ultimately, it was born of the same basic market principles with which we’re all familiar.
Economic psychology tells us that a given company will successfully sell its product/service if it could:
- Meet a need
- Do so at the least comparative discomfort to the customer.
Condition (a) tells us two things: First, that there must either be an established or compellingly argued need for some such product/service, and second – that the product/service must be considered capable of effectively meeting that need.
Seeding the market with the necessary components of condition (a) makes up the vast majority of marketing efforts, and in that little has changed for the last half century.
In condition (b) however, we can find explanation for the modern marketing landscape. The least comparative discomfort to the customer can be defined by one of three primary values or any combination of them.
- Lowest cost incurred
- Least effort expended
- Least unpleasantness endured
But what happens when those values conflict? If I am, for example, pestered by a telemarketer encouraging me to change my cellular service provider, I may acquiesce without need for any of my own research, (effort expended) but with much unpleasantness.
What if the values of least effort expended and least unpleasantness endured contradict? True, the telemarketing can list me in his or her “wins” column, but is the approach sustainable?
How will I react the next time I’m essentially bullied by a solicitor? What about 10 times on?
The Modern Marketer’s Main Challenge
Historically speaking, as solicitors grew more aggressive and conventional advertisements became more ubiquitous, clients grew increasingly intolerant of unpleasantness and desensitized to the backdrop of marketing "noise".
Over time this lead to a distinct preference in attitude and patronage for those firms able to retreat from intrusive marketing tactics and communicate in a more meaningful, directed manner – while still maintaining brand awareness.
This movement, born some half century ago, remains the driving force behind inbound excellence today.
The question of course is how to maintain brand awareness and accessibility without resorting to outbound/intrusive marketing. Well, that's a question we answer everyday at Penguin Strategies for our B2B Tech clients. In this article, learn why 75% of B2B Tech companies now prioritize inbound marketing.