First Things First: What Is Outbound and Inbound Marketing?
Outbound marketing is the “push” of an overall marketing strategy.
It consists of activities that involve active outreach to market an organization or product. While these efforts are generally targeted based on geography, industry, and interest, they are still fairly broad. The benefits of outbound marketing for manufacturers include strong awareness-building and a broader target audience from which to attract new prospects. While it has the potential to produce results faster due to being more active outreach, it can still take time as leads are often colder and need to be nurtured. Examples include:
- Paid advertising (TV, print, radio, billboards)
- Events and tradeshows
- Cold calling and telemarketing
- Email blasts
- Online display advertising
- Direct mail campaigns
Inbound marketing is the reverse — the “pull” of a marketing effort.
Instead of casting a line, a net is instead put in place — allowing prospects that are already looking for a solution to encounter manufacturers through their search efforts, learn more about them and their services, and be nurtured through the funnel via different types of content and activities. It is a more narrowed and focused effort that, while slower than outbound marketing to produce results, can lead to very favorable, sustained outcomes when maintained consistently over time. Examples of inbound marketing include:
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
- Blogging and new page creation
- Ebooks and whitepapers
- Targeted, opt-in email marketing
- Chatbots and other automation
For Manufacturers, Both Are Essential to Generate Leads
Depending on your industry, your sales cycle could be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. In some sectors, the cycle can be even longer — lasting up to a year or more due to the nature of the market, the relationship-building needed to convert a prospect into a paying customer, and any other variables such as supply chain challenges.
Examples include electronics and medical device manufacturers, where some sales cycles can be well over a year in length. Some corrugated manufacturers have sales cycles lasting several months or more due to the time needed to nurture the relationship and transition programs from one supplier to another. It’s because of these lengthy sales cycles (among other factors) that manufacturers should utilize both outbound and inbound marketing.
The Benefits of Outbound Marketing
Sales teams at manufacturing companies are navigating more challenges than ever. The ongoing supply chain situation is creating extensive lead times for raw materials needed to make products, which in turn can affect downstream partners and their customers. Another well-documented challenge is the labor situation. Just last year, the National Association of Manufacturers forecasted that 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could go unfilled by 2030. Job openings in manufacturing have been at some of their highest levels in years, too. This creates capacity shortages and delays production.
While outbound marketing can’t solve these specific challenges, unfortunately, it can help sales teams make more effective use of their time. The benefits of outbound marketing mean your company is able to focus on a targeted, strategic profile that identifies the right type of opportunity that fits your capabilities. This means prospects that come in through outbound efforts will fit right in your wheelhouse vs. dealing with prospects that are either too low in volume, frequency, or revenue potential. And when coupled with streamlined a front-end sales process, your sales team can spend more time on higher-value work such as building relationships, preparing quotes, and more (vs. having to deal with existing account management and other time-consuming tasks).
The Benefits of Inbound Marketing
Whereas outbound marketing will help you develop ideal opportunities through active outreach, the benefits of inbound marketing revolve more around strategically showing up where your customers are already looking and nurturing them through the sales funnel. If a company is looking for a solution to a problem, creating helpful, optimized content around that topic may help you rank highly in search results. The prospect views that content, gets answers to their questions, and learns more about you in the process. You’re able to demonstrate your expertise and capabilities as well as build trust.
Eventually, that helpful content may help push that prospect over the finish line to conversion. Inbound marketing doesn’t stop there, however. If the prospect isn’t yet ready to buy, inbound marketing can help to further nurture that relationship by sending emails with resources and insights. Additional content can be created that addresses consideration- and decision-level (funnel stages) questions and concerns, such as case studies, testimonials, videos, and more. Ultimately, the benefits of inbound marketing will help your manufacturing company be where your prospects are, build a relationship with them, and guide them toward selecting you as their manufacturing partner.
Athena Provides a Holistic Approach, Combining Outbound and Inbound Practices for Sales Success
At Athena, we’ve helped numerous manufacturing companies leverage our holistic, integrated inbound and outbound approach to build a stronger pipeline of sales-ready prospects. We combine the best of outbound and inbound marketing to increase awareness of your company, identify the right prospects and decision-makers, connect with and engage them, and nurture them until a decision is made. With our team handling this upfront process, your sales team can spend more time focusing on critical work like engaging with prospects that are ready to close.
Our proven process also creates additional benefits, such as helping reps increase their productivity by not having to deal with lower-value, time-consuming tasks that get in the way of new business development. Our model also helps improve sales rep accountability in that we meet with and support them from the beginning of our relationship and consistently thereafter, helping them navigate barriers, address concerns, and more.
In the end, by integrating the benefits of inbound marketing and the benefits of outbound marketing into your organization, you enjoy a more consistent, reliable, and valuable sales cycle that helps you build your business.