for creative entrepreneurs

Episode 50: InBound or OutBound. The Eternal Struggle

All the many and varied strategies you might employ to market your creative service, can be categorized under one of two main heads. Outbound marketing and Inbound Marketing. Outbound strategies such as cold emails, cold calls, and broadcasting are more like door-to-door salesmen, who must take initiative to knock on doors and disrupt your dinner to get your attention. Inbound is so much less intrusive. Using strategies that rely on search and social media recommendations—they enable people to find products and services they need, when they need them. These two approaches are often pitted against each other as combatants in a winner take all competition. But in reality you don’t have to choose just one approach, in fact, by turning these two into allies, rather than enemies, you can benefit from the advantages of both.

Inbound marketing became increasinging popular with the rise of the internet. Before the internet, if you wanted to get the attention of customers or prospects, you had to reach out, and broadcast your business. But when people began to shift their buying habits online, it became possible for individuals to discover your business entirely through their own searches, or through links from other sites that recommended you. Inbound was the new cool kid in town, leaving poor old outbound out in the cold.

It’s not for nothin’ that Inbound became so popular. Who likes having their shows interrupted by outbound ads, or answer robo-calls, or toss junk mail into the trash?

But outbound has received a bad rap. Not every form of outreach is equally intrusive or unwelcomed. If a professional reaches out to me, and it’s evident that they provide a service that I need, and asks me to consider their offerings, I may or may not take them up on it, but I hardly resent their efforts. Appropriate outreach, to well targeted prospects, while being outbound, is a perfectly fitting way of getting the word out about your creative services.

I am in fact a big advocate of InBound. How much better when prospects find us through Google or on LinkedIn, take time to evaluate our services, and then take the initiative to reach out—who doesn’t love that? But the reality is that building up your marketing platform, and publishing enough content to make Inbound really work, takes a long time. Eventually, a well maintained content strategy, year after year, will pay Inbound dividends.

But if you’re on the front end of a marketing program—if you’ve just launched your new company, or a new brand—you can’t want for the years it might take for the power of Inbound to catch up with you. You need to get the word out, and you can’t rely on search and social media to get you there right away.

And so you’re going to have to knock on some doors, so to speak. You have to build a list of prospects, and begin reaching out. That might mean anything from introducing yourself via email, making a LinkedIn connection request, or even, maybe, make a cold call. Horrors!

The secret to effective outbound marketing, and having outbound efforts received favorably is—yes, you guessed it—PinPoint Positioning. When you’ve done the hard work of clearly messaging what you do, who you do it for, and most importantly why it benefits them, you’ll be able to identify those prospects who really are interested in your message. When you send that connection request, more often than not, it will be professionally received and accepted.

A comprehensive marketing program for a creative entrepreneur needs to include both an investment in InBound marketing, but also some basic elbow grease applied to OutBound strategies. Over time you’ll be able to reduce your OutBound efforts, as InBound gains velocity—but in the early stages OutBound might just be your best friend, and closest ally.

Until next week: don’t let the business of creativity overwhelm your creative business.

Are you ready to take the struggle out of finding new clients?