The rallying cry of inbound and content marketers everywhere is that outbound marketing, you know, things like advertising, cold calling and overt promotion are evil.


photo credit: The Eggplant via photopin cc

The theory is that if you put enough high quality content out there, the right people will find you. And, both in theory and in fact, this is happening.

The funny thing about evolution, however, is that it never really stops.

As marketers and the customers they aim to attract fully embraced inbound marketing, the sales function had to change with it. The most effective sales professionals today practice inbound selling and collaborate as much as close.

As marketers and the customers they aim to attract fully embraced inbound marketing, outbound marketing became more effective.

Now, before you get out the pitchforks and start skewering, let me explain.

Before inbound marketers built libraries of educational content to lean on in their inbound marketing efforts, most outbound approaches simply shouted buy, buy, buy – and that’s the part that turned everyone off.

But now, smart marketers are using their content assets, married with outbound tactics, to attract leads with a more palatable read, read, read or download, download, download!

An add on Facebook, promoting a popular free eBook, highly targeted to people who have shown a real interest in this precise kind of content, is an effective use of inbound and outbound tactics.

Smart sales professionals are using effective network mining techniques combined with content assets to turn what we used to refer to as cold calls into very effective smart calls.

A sales professional, mining social networks and listening for very specific requests for information can offer up a free eBook or video training turning a something cold into something smart.

Once you build an inbound marketing approach and find that this approach attracts and converts the right customers, you can effectively expand and amplify it through other channels. While being found is nice, it can also be quite limiting.

If you want to grow your marketing reach and create greater marketing velocity use your content assets to go find even more of the right customer.

Now, understand, I’m not suggesting a return to the “shout from the rooftops to anyone that will listen days,” those days are gone forever. What I am suggesting is that you use the tools at your disposal to narrowly target prospects and invite them to find your valuable, education based content.

I’ve been promoting this approach for a number of years now and it has become even more effective as social media participation and behavior grows. In fact, the ability to target, learn, access and engage through social networks has made this integrated view the most effective approach possible.

Marketers love to name new strategies and tactics so I think I’ll take a stab at coining a term to describe what I see as the latest evolution of sorts.

Inbound marketing + inbound selling + social media + outbound marketing = Omnimarketing.

I believe that smart, balanced Omnimarketing is the way forward.

There is no “either or”, “one way is better than another”, “this way is cheaper than another” approach that can effectively leverage every opportunity available today.

The Omnimarketing formula looks something like this.

  • Build a content strategy that attracts the right customer and builds trust. Test, tweak, add and subtract until you find the right customer conversion journey and experience.
  • Work to understand everything you can about the prospects and customers your inbound approach is attracting.
  • Get your sales teams to move deeply into social networks to understand even more about the needs and challenges of the customers your marketing is attracting.
  • Let your salespeople start leveraging and personalizing content assets to turn up and make smart calls.
  • Now start building a narrowly targeted advertising approach that brings even greater numbers of leads into your content or Marketing Hourglass.
  • Continue to test, tweak and refine your outbound efforts based on actual conversations and conversions that move through your Omnimarketing approach.
  • Re-engage your customers to measure results and enable referrals.

Ominmarketing works because first and foremost it’s based on the way that people want to buy today and once you understand that you can add the element of control that targeted outbound marketing brings.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • I can only imagine how much duct tape you need to build the Omnimarketing Engine!

    • Applied correctly surprising little 🙂

  • Neil

    I agree 110% with your omnimarketing thesis. I would just note that you glossed over the difficulty of creating content and writing advertising copy (especially the latter). Salespeople may best understand hot topics, but many of them lack writing skills. Entire industries have under-invested in copywriting talent. This is what will separate companies that succeed and fail with omnimarketing (and its primary vehicle native advertising).

    • Neil – it certainly may have felt as though I glossed over it but I’ve acknowleged this idea frequently. In fact, the rise of inbound selling has a lot to do with the fact that marketers don’t always get the content part right or as you suggest the hot topics.

  • Neil, I love copywriting, but great copy can’t save a bad strategy.

    More important than the copy is the message/offer/bait to market match. John is correct, get that right, and the traffic will flow. And content that’s already proven to attract the right fish will surely attract others with little modification when tried in a new fishin’ hole.

    • Amen to that Neil – great copy can’t save a bad strategy.

    • Neil

      I agree that you need a strategy, and that copywriting isn’t magic. But if your strategy is a jet, copywriting is the fuel.

      The strategy discussed in the article entails offering content. In the B2B world, this typically means articles, case studies, ebooks, guides, reports, etc. as Bob noted above (I try not to use the words “blog” or “white paper” anymore). Well, someone needs to write all that content. A well-written case study can have you on the edge of your seat, but most are about as exciting as a brochure. Someone also needs to write the advertising and landing page copy offering the content.

      Thus, we’re actually in agreement — public content for search engines and social media sharing, special content behind forms that you drive your audience to plus others via advertising (including native vehicles), advertising and landing page copywriting, lead scoring, automated and manual follow up, etc. I call it closed-loop marketing. John calls it omnimarketing.

  • I’ve been struggling with how to fit outbound into the mix. Thanks for the food for thought.

    But I don’t see outbound selling mentioned here; do you think omnimarketing has done away with the need for traditional prospecting/cold-calling/door-knocking/knee-scuffing?

    • I do in the pure sense because I never really thought it was very effective to begin with. It’s far too easy to move over to the inbound side in selling and then cold call with the offer of content.

      • On that note, I enjoyed this Hubspot post on an alternative to BANT. Sharing here because without DuctTape and Hubspot, basically, I’d still be doing things the same way I did in 1998. (Hint: badly.)

      • Having spent a little time working on the door-knocking /knee-scuffing (lol) side of life for a [big brand]. I’ve got to +1 the idea that it was never very effective. It was always mud against the wall as an overall tactic.

        The salespeople that have always excelled have been those who understood their customer on some level and delivered them additional value beyond just ‘buy my stuff, it’s awesome’.

        Love the way you’re tying this all together, thanks.

  • John –

    I think the inbound folks have mischaracterized what outbound marketing is about.

    Yes, some it is the hard sell and shouting from rooftops “Buy me, buy me.” But with few exceptions, that has never been a good approach – even in the old days.

    What did work – and still works – is the use of “content” to generate leads.

    For many years, I’ve been using how-to guides, tip sheets,white papers and other “content” to generate leads using direct mail and print ads. Today, online gives me more reach, better speed and lower costs, but the strategy remains the same.

    There’s no hard sell. Just one simple message, “if you have this problem, my free guide will put you on the path to solving that problem.” It is exactly the same method that inbound marketing is now preaching.

    I first learned this technique in 1980 with my first copywriting job – and the agency I worked for had been using it for decades before then.

    • Me too Bob – I used it to launch my landscape business in the late ’80’s. We didn’t call it content back then, but it sure did work!

  • Ben Bradley

    Great post – I agree with many elements of this! A good strategy should use the inbound content but promote it with outbound channels to maximize reach.

    I have a related post here – 3 myths of inbound marketing:

  • I encourage businesses to do both forms of marketing. Inbound marketing can be very effective but it is also a much more passive. I tend to think the best approach is to build using inbound marketing channels for the long-term and then supplement this activity with highly effective outbound marketing.

  • We promote the blended marketing plan as well. Inbound can find the people that are thinking about you, but outbound can target the people that you are thinking about. It’s a big difference.

    In our business, where we practice inbound and outbound strategies, a client might ask us “please get me into these 100 companies with the person that does IT security.” If that’s the perfect persona for you to talk with and the 100 companies are the perfect target market, and you get appointments with these people, well…that’s sales goodness right there.

    How many of those prospects would have googled you this month? Maybe a couple, but you don’t control that.

    Mike Damphousse
    CEO – Green Leads

  • Hi, recently read some updates regarding the never ending battle between inbound and outbound and turns out that the latter is making a comeback this 2016. It was reported that inbound has ‘peaked and plateaued’, and it is best to go back to outbound measures to keep up with the trend. Anyhow, I appreciate your idea about ‘Omnimarketing’ which states that there is no ‘purely outbound’ or ‘purely inbound’ measure but a combination of both as a team to generate leads. Nevertheless, thank you for your post.