INBOUND v. OUTBOUND

Written by: Alec Bartlett

1 min read

We flippin love a full throttle argument don’t we? There’s something almost primal about it. It's like when some kid shouted “FIGHT!” in the playground, cue the stampede of bloodthirsty children.

This isn’t far off what happened at the INBOUND v. OUTBOUND debate at HubSpot’s INBOUND2020 event. You had plenty of eyeballs clawing to see this virtual marketing bout. It had that ‘main event’ feel, with two heavyweights about to go at it for 12 rounds. 

In the red corner, coming out of Babcock Ranch, Florida, wearing the red shirt with black trim, you had George B Thomas from Impulse Creative. And in the blue corner, the challenger from Maryland, Baltimore, wearing the solid blue shirt and baseball cap, Doug Davidoff from Imagine Business Dev, with referee Remington Begg keeping things clean. 

And in my best Michael Buffer intro: “Errr… LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!” 

The great thing about this talk is that it didn’t disappoint. The entertainment levels were high. There’s not many who could make an analogy between bacon and ordering a drink at the bar with inbound and outbound tactics, but they managed it. 

Trading blows like Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa, the live chat was pinging furiously with people wanting to show which side of the fence they stood. Yet neither contestant quite mustered the knockout blow. 

The main takeaways were this:

Inbound is persona over company. 

The idea that the company aligns its values to that of its prospects through long-term relationship building. 

Outbound is company over persona. 

The idea that the person aligns their values to that of a company through short-term value propositions. 

Which whilst watching (and smiling) I couldn’t help but remember a blog I came across called The Wrong and Short of it, where the author Tom Roach makes the most salient point about marketing and advertising I’ve ever read, seen or heard: 

“Short-termism and long-termism are both just wrong-termism”

Yes mate!! I couldn't agree more. Why do we feel compelled to pick a side? Why is the choice binary? Surely, you need to be doing both? And both need to be working together? 

Because, let’s face it, humans are the opposite of binary beings. For us, it's never black or white – we all see the world in different shades and hues on pretty much every topic. One person's rubbish is another's treasure and all that. 

There will be times when we need a quick solution, so it might be handy to be reminded or introduced to a product or service using something like a billboard or direct mail piece. Equally, there could be other times when we’d want to do our own research. So educational content, aligned to a specific problem, helping us make an informed decision, would be very useful.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised that both George and Doug, after taking several lumps out of each other decided, unanimously, to call it a draw.

“I’m gonna level with ya folks. It’s not INBOUND or OUTBOUND – it’s ALLBOUND” says Doug with George, enthusiastically nodding. 

Making the point that your customer doesn’t live in either an INBOUND or OUTBOUND world, much like they don’t live in either an ONLINE or OFFLINE one either. They live in THEIR WORLD. 

Ultimately it's our responsibility (brands and agencies) to understand customers and meet them where they need us – regardless of whether it's the 1st or 100th time we’ve met.  

Here’s to being ALLBOUND and achieving sustained growth by thinking ‘&’ not ‘or’.




Read On