The advent of inbound marketing has leveled the competitive playing field. Size no longer matters, because Web-based marketing is entirely accessible and extremely affordable. These seven concepts define key differences between inbound and outbound marketing and explain why every MSP should adopt an inbound approach to marketing.

1. Targeted vs. Mass Media

Outbound marketing success relies on volume. Put your message in front of enough people enough times, and you’re bound to reach someone who is an actual prospect. Inbound marketing is predicated on finesse because it can be highly targeted. When done right, you’re assured of reaching exactly the prospects you want, when they’re most interested.

As an MSP, every dollar you spend counts. Make sure the effort and dollars you’re putting into marketing your managed services are highly targeted so that you can see a return on your investment.

2. Permission vs. Interruption

Outbound marketing – advertising, cold calling, etc. -- is an unwanted interruption. The vast majority of people are saying “no” by subscribing to ad-free radio, muting or skipping over TV ads, using spam filters and caller ID.

Inbound marketing helps you develop a deeper, more complex relationship with prospects because you have their permission to communicate with them. They deliberately found you online, and they willingly gave you their name and email address when they signed up for your blog, downloadable content, discount coupons, etc. They want to interact with you, because they’re interested in what you have to offer. This results in higher quality leads for your sales team and better customers for your business. 

3. Content vs. Sales Pitch

Inbound marketing enables you to educate prospects about your industry and products by answering their questions and addressing their key challenges. You do that by presenting information on your website, blog and social media posts. It’s about two-way communication, not simply delivering a sales message.

This positions your business as a helpful advisor to your prospects and clients and leads to better business relationships. When it comes to providing managed IT services, you want to become a trusted advisor to your clients, not just a business expenditure for them. By beginning the relationship with helpful content rather than a sales pitch, you help build this trust off the bat, which results in longer client contracts and reduced client churn.

4. Consumer-Focused vs. Company-Focused

When Burger King created the slogan “have it your way,” they had no idea they were predicting the entire future of marketing. Consumers now control their own shopping and buying decisions, and they rely on many sources beyond the content you create:

  • Online search
  • Product and company reviews
  • Recommendations and “shares” from their social media contacts
  • Comments on your social media or blog posts

Prospects are inherently suspicious of outbound sales messages, because they know you’re biased.

5. Limited vs. Unlimited

Outbound marketing provides very limited time or space to deliver your message in words and/or pictures. You either make your point and motivate your audience to take action, or you don’t. That’s a lot riding on so little.

Inbound offers myriad opportunities to gradually engage with and nurture leads, serving up information that matches their learning style or format preferences as well as their time commitment. Some examples include:

  • Website
  • Social media - Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.
  • Blog
  • Whitepapers
  • E-books
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • SlideShare or PowerPoint presentations
  • Photos
  • Videos

Your information is there, when and where they want it. With an inbound approach you have a much better opportunity to engage with higher-quality leads, whereas an outbound approach presents your message to people who may not be interested right now and may never be interested in you and your products.

6. Measurable vs. Not So Much

Continuous improvement is crucial to your marketing efforts, more so than any other component of your business. Inbound is almost infinitely measurable, allowing you to monitor and analyze your results and study the behavior of your existing customers and prospects. You can use that data to refine your marketing, both content and targeting.

If you’re an MSP using outbound marketing, you know who your new client or customer is, yet it is challenging to determine the source of their business unless you are tracking each conversion in your CRM or in some cases, via an Excel spreadsheet.

Learning about your audience is critical for business success, not just when it comes to marketing. With inbound marketing, it’s significantly easier to track your activities, see what is working and better understand your audience.

7. Real-Time Response vs. Wait-and-See

Inbound marketing is nimble. You can get something into circulation almost immediately, and you can engage with people in real time. This is not so much the case when you’re producing and publishing print or broadcast advertising.

All in all, inbound enables your marketing to be more strategic and more timely. As an MSP, you need to make sure you’re being efficient and effective with your activities. Inbound marketing allows you to be nimble, targeted and efficient with your marketing efforts, providing you with time and information that you can funnel back into your business.


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