Inbound or Outbound: What Works Best in Our Industry?

We all know marketing has changed. But to understand the sheer scope of the change, you really need to see this.

It’s a supergraphic, unveiled at last year’s MarTech Conference, that shows the explosive growth of marketing technology. In 2011 there were 150 martech solutions. Last year there were more than 3,800.

How does a marketer keep up with these ever-changing technology trends? And, more importantly, what works in the aerospace, aviation and defense industry?

It really depends on the goals you set for your marketing efforts. But for this discussion, let’s say our goal is to increase awareness and deliver some number of qualified leads to sales on a monthly basis.

In our own experience, a strategic mix of inbound and outbound is an extremely effective approach because it leverages technology without neglecting the face-to-face connections and relationships that are the lifeblood of our industry.

What is Inbound? 

Inbound marketing is the promotion of a business through blogs, podcasts, video, ebooks, newsletters, white papers, search engine optimization, social media, and other forms of content marketing that serve to attract and move customers through the different stages of the sales funnel.

BDN makes a significant investment in inbound marketing, and it works for us because it demonstrates our commitment to progressive marketing while nurturing prospects and delivering leads that eventually become customers. But that’s not all. Because inbound marketing is fueled by content, it is the perfect platform for providing helpful resources that draw prospects in while showcasing our expertise in both aerospace and in marketing.

We don’t sell. We help.

We work in the most exciting industry in the world. If you want to be viewed as innovative, showcase your technical prowess through original content. I guarantee that if you give prospective customers something they want — something they can only get from you — and the leads will come. 

We work in the most exciting industry in the world. If you want to be viewed as innovative, showcase your technical prowess through original content.

The same premise can work for your business. A service center that specializes in business aviation, for example, might offer access to a unique resource that shows where to find the most affordable fuel in real time. If the content is attractive enough — as this would likely be — prospects will offer up their contact information.

Or perhaps you sell engineering services. Consider what your customers care most about. What are their biggest pain points? It may be that they are most concerned with development times and delays in key programs. In this case, they would likely be interested in a case study that details an exciting new process or tool that helps bring products to market more quickly.

Within our industry, GE Aviation has been widely praised for its content marketing efforts. Although this article first appeared in 2010, it’s from the Harvard Business Review, so that makes it worth sharing and reading now. This piece is shorter, with a clear focus on GE’s approach to content, and includes good information about how marketers can “take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.”

This Flight Manual is another example of how content works to fuel inbound success. There are not many resources for people who want to read about marketing in the aerospace industry, but (as demonstrated by our 500+ subscribers) there is a demand for the specialized information we provide. And due to our regular blogging, we enjoy excellent search engine optimization, which drives traffic to our website. Once there, visitors may access a marketing tool kit or fill out a contact form. We have a strong and healthy lead flow, and you can, too.

Inbound isn’t easy or fast. It takes time, money and patience. But the rewards are there for those who commit to the process.

What is Outbound?

Outbound, also known as interruption marketing, is the traditional form of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and pushes its message out to an audience. Tactics include email, direct mail, cold calling, advertising and trade shows and events. 

Some people will tell you that outbound is dead, but that’s just not true in our industry. 

While outbound is a good way to reach large masses of people, it is typically less effective at closely targeting the prospects most likely to buy. It is also expensive and, unlike inbound, it cannot be adapted to different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Some people will tell you that outbound is dead, but that’s just not true in our industry. Still, we caution our clients about relying exclusively on outbound techniques.

We use outbound marketing strategically to increase awareness, expand our database and break into unexplored niche markets. Trade shows and events are especially important to connect with target markets and to meet with customers and prospects in person. And we support those activities with emails to drive pre-show interest and on-site meetings.

Better Together

Our experience shows that the right combination of inbound and outbound techniques is powerful and effective. As Pardot correctly notes, “inbound and outbound marketing are really two sides of the same coin: inbound brings prospects to you, while outbound brings you to prospects.”

We hope this week’s blog was helpful. If you’d like to learn more, here are three more inbound marketing resources.