The Myths and Realities of Inbound Marketing

The social media community is known for taking ideas and running with them. Such is the case with inbound marketing, a term coined in 2009 that was supposed to describe the radically new way marketing would work in the Internet age.  Inbound marketing has taken the social media community by storm, being coined the latest and greatest, and being proposed as the solution to every small company’s marketing problems.
 
Being fans of the ancient Greek virtue of moderation (also, of critical thinking), we’ve taken a more nuanced approach to this phenomenon. We are glad that industry insiders like RavenTools, also recommend a balanced strategy, even leaning slightly towards the outbound side.
 
With that in mind, here are two of the common myths perpetuated about inbound marketing, and the realities behind them:
 

Myth: Inbound Marketing is Cheap

 
The argument here is that because inbound marketing depends entire on content creation, it can be done much more cheaply than producing the materials or purchasing the airtime required for traditional, outbound marketing. Some savvy business owners can even do the content creation themselves, bringing down cost to just the time necessary to produce the content.
 
Reality: Inbound marketing can be just as expensive as outbound marketing. A part of the reason social media marketing companies are hyping inbound marketing so much is that it provides them with a consistent source of revenue. Content creation is labor based, while a lot of the cost of outbound marketing goes towards the marketing material itself. Therefore, the marketing company most likely makes more money off inbound marketing than from outbound.
 
If you’re doing your own inbound marketing, you might be saving on labor costs, but you lose out on time and the chance to work with someone who has the expertise that comes from creating web content full-time. Most importantly, anything that takes resources and does not deliver the promised results can be considered to be expensive. Which brings us to:
 

Myth: Inbound Marketing is More Effective

 
The argument behind this myth is that because with inbound marketing the potential customer finds you instead of the other way around, they will automatically be more engaged, and will ultimately become real customers.
 
Reality: Inbound marketing can be ridiculously effective, but the operative word here is can. Effective content creation and nearly wizardly SEO practices are necessary to get noticed, especially as the pool of online content grows exponentially (which, ironically, happens because of the hype around inbound marketing).
 
With outbound marketing, at least you’re putting things “out there” in the world, where at least some people are bound to notice them. But with inbound marketing, without a certain level of expertise, there is a real chance you might be creating content that no one will ever be able to find or read.
 
We want to be perfectly clear here: we are not against inbound marketing and believe that it is an essential part of a balanced marketing strategy. We simply want to get you thinking about why you believe the things you do, take down some sacred cows, and do not what the marketing industry finds fashionable, but what is best for your business.
 
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