I’ve seen too many new companies believing “Build it and they will come” over the last 6 years with the startup “Gold Rush,” but no matter how awesome their product is, companies begin to question and regret this philosophy after sales numbers continue to fall flat after 6 months of their product launch. While creating a product people actually want is important for finding product market fit, you won’t be selling much if no one knows your product even exists.
Why Inbound Marketing isn’t Enough
Sharing great content is a great way to strengthen and expand your audience, but what do you do if you don’t have an audience at all?
Some people may discover your awesome blog posts and videos on the internet organically if your content has good SEO, but in today’s ocean of content that’s getting harder and harder to even get noticed. Unfortunately it usually takes between 6 months and 2 years for most blogs to take off and give the company the ROI they’ve put into their blog. Whether your company hires writers or it’s just the opportunity cost of the founders’ time to write articles, creating content is never free. Today having a successful and widely read company blog often requires using advertising spend to promote content on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.
Like SaaStr‘s Jason Lemkin and Hubspot’s Mark Roberge I agree that every company should be creating useful and interesting content for their customers and prospects to consume (which is why I’m writing this blog post for you!), but that doesn’t mean you should put all your eggs in one basket. Even Hubspot, the creator of the inbound movement, uses outbound sales and marketing to help them get enough extra leads in their sales pipeline to meet their high-pressure growth targets.
Using inbound As Predictable Revenue‘s Aaron Ross says,
“Inbound & Outbound go best together, like peanut butter and chocolate.”
Outbound Email Still Reigns King
Few people see cold email as sexy, but even with the popularity and hype around social media, it’s still a powerful force to be reckoned with. Recent white papers and articles from Ken Krogue, Aaron Ross and MarketingProfs all conclude that in 2014 nothing besides expensive executive seminars can beat sending outbound emails.
Reasons Outbound Emails Beat Inbound & Cold Calling:
- Email is incredibly scalable. Mail merge templates, custom inserts, and automation software make it easy for you to create mass cold emails that feel personal enough for them to seem like individual emails. Once you have great email templates with high response rates it’s easy to scale your sales pipeline by just adding more contacts to your list.
- Better and more affordable data. We have so much information at our fingertips today and have great apps like Rapportive that make it too easy to research your prospects that you have no excuse not to. Likewise, scraping tools and outsourced prospecting research makes it affordable to get the contact information for the decision makers you need to reach, along with the everything you need to know about them and their company to get a conversation going.
- Unlike inbound, you control the volume. Unlike blog posts, events and white papers, which leaves you waiting for responses from your prospects, you get to make the first move with email. Want more people in your pipeline? After you’ve figured out the right messaging for your cold emails, all you have to do is increase the size of your contact list.
The Winning Sales & Marketing Strategy: Inbound + Outbound
I would never tell you to quit doing inbound marketing.
You do need to be realistic about the results it will bring you and consider its costs though. Inbound marketing is a great strategy for building an online following and getting more customers in your pipeline, but it’s a longterm strategy that takes time. If you don’t have that time to keep spending on marketing without selling a lot (and who does?!), you should consider doing outbound emails while your inbound is still ramping up. Because once it does, you’ll have a killer sales and marketing strategy that you can continue to scale.