Traditional vs. inbound marketing: What to know when developing your brand strategy

Traditional vs Inbound marketing
Source: Sosland Publishing


When developing a marketing strategy, there are two general ways to go about it. The first is traditional or “outbound” marketing—the strategy with which most consumers and businesses are familiar. The second is inbound marketing, which has become increasingly popular with the rise of the internet and social media. Both strategies have benefits for growing your business and challenges that need to be carefully considered when developing your marketing or brand strategy.

How do traditional and inbound marketing compare?

The main difference between traditional and inbound marketing strategies concerns how your messages reach your potential customers. You are employing a traditional, outbound marketing strategy when you push your brand’s messaging out to customers. B2B marketers commonly use physical media for outbound tactics, such as presenting prospects with ads in a printed magazine or by running commercials on channels they are likely to watch. This means your message is appearing in front of your potential customers when your product or service is not already on their minds.

By contrast, you are employing an inbound marketing strategy when you create content that draws people in to your website or other online environments. This approach involves preparing trustworthy content ahead of time so buyers can find the answers they are looking for at their own pace. You can achieve this by, for example, having an active social media presence with engaging content or by creating videos that help address common questions that prospects may have about your product.

What are the benefits of traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing tends to be the more general of the two strategies, and it has the widest scope. The aim is to get your messaging in front of as broad of an audience as possible, and the goal is to convert that audience into customers.

Examples of outbound marketing include promotional tactics designed to draw attention and lead to product sales, such as exhibiting at trade shows, placing magazine or website ads, sending direct mail, or running commercial breaks on podcasts. Traditional marketing has the benefit of reaching a wide audience, which helps to build brand awareness with prospects who may be otherwise unfamiliar with your products and services. Further, this traditional marketing strategy has the potential to yield immediate results: some buyers may be in a position to place a purchase order right when they receive your company’s message.

What are the challenges of traditional marketing?

When deploying only traditional marketing tactics, measuring engagement can be difficult due to its primarily physical nature. Your company can track cold calls, event attendance, pay-per-click advertising, and open rates from email blasts, though this likely won’t paint a complete picture of how your message is being received. Traditional tactics elevate your brand and connect you with a large audience, and using these traditional marketing tactics without a complementary inbound marketing strategy might make it more difficult to track audience engagement. This could in turn make it more difficult to convert them into customers.

What are the benefits of inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a more subtle, non-invasive marketing strategy. The goal is to cultivate a loyal audience over time. Customers participate in a potentially lengthy buying journey, and along their journey they need helpful and reliable information, feedback, and positive interactions with a company before they decide whether to make a purchase.

Examples of inbound marketing include many kinds of informative digital content, such as hosting webinars, publishing thought leadership articles on your company’s website, posting sponsored content on other trusted and authoritative websites, crafting timely and engaging social media posts, or serving up sponsored content in a newsletter. It is important to create engaging content that makes your products easy to find, preemptively answers a buyer’s questions, and distinguishes your brand from the competition.

A major benefit of this approach is that your brand’s messaging can be measured for audience engagement through various software tools. This means that you can guide customers through their entire buying journey and cultivate brand loyalty along the way. Keep in mind that it is beneficial to employ outbound tactics alongside an integrated inbound marketing strategy. That way, you introduce your brand to as broad of an audience as possible and then guide those prospects along their respective buying journeys.

What are the challenges of inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing tactics require a significant time investment to continuously create content and thereby stay relevant online. So, using inbound marketing tactics without the assistance of traditional marketing strategies can result in a longer buying journey for your prospects. Since an inbound marketing strategy requires careful planning, many in the food industry rely on Sosland Publishing and its respective brands for help.

Speak to a Sosland Publishing media expert about your marketing strategy

Whether you are looking to cast a wide net and promote brand recognition through a traditional marketing campaign, or you are looking to cultivate a loyal audience over time through an inbound marketing strategy, Sosland Publishing has a variety of products to support you. Speak with our media experts today to craft your marketing plan or your next campaign.