Inbound or Outbound – what is the difference

When you think about marketing in today’s digital environment, there are two choices: PUSH or PULL.

Let me explain. Traditional outbound marketing pushes information and offers out to potential customers using TV, radio, press, posters and so on.

The thinking is that if you hit enough people with your message, someone will eventually buy something from you.

Digital inbound marketing is about attracting – or pulling in – potential customers by providing them with the kind of information they need to make a buying decision and letting them drive the purchasing process.

Marketer/Sales Oriented
  • Broadcast radio and TV
  • Newspaper and magazines
  • Cold calling and call centres
  • Social media advertising
  • Search engine advertising
  • Emails to purchased lists
Customer Initiated
  • Blogging, podcasts and video
  • eBooks, reviews and articles
  • Earned social media
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Emails to opt-in lists
  • Pay per click
  • Referrals by existing customers

Why is inbound marketing so powerful?

The simple answer is because it engages prospective customers when they are in a mood to solve a problem they have, by buying a product or service.

Buyers use the internet to research how to solve their problem. Inbound techniques guide buyers through the buyer’s journey with information that satisfy a buyer’s needs for information, at various stages.


Discovery is the beginning of the process.

It’s the phase where potential buyers realise they have a problem and research ways of solving it. They are looking for information, not a sales pitch.  You need to place valuable information on your site for free because you want strangers you don’t know to become familiar visitors to your site.

Engagement is a two-way street.

Potential buyers are looking at you and your solutions seriously. After all, they have a problem that needs solving. You, on the other hand, are looking for profitable customers.

You want the kind of customers who fit your ideal sales profiles and can work with your organisation’s existing supply chain and fulfilment processes.

So the engagement phase is as much about you qualifying the customer as it is about the customer qualifying you.


Commitment sounds like the place you make a sale. It is. However, it is much more than that.

The commitment phase is where you gain an enthusiastic customer, someone who likes your product and your business and is happy to promote it to others.

Remember that one-off sales are hard sales. You have to get up every day and begin again with another new prospect.

When you have deep customer-commitment based on mutual benefit, you not only get their sales by default, you get their referrals and introductions.

Which is even more important.