Inbound-only marketing is like waiting for the phone to ring

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I’ve built my business on inbound marketing.  It works.  But it also has its limits.

By focusing on inbound marketing alone, you have little control over the growth rate and consistency of that growth over time.  You have less control over the quality of inbound requests and prospects.  The phone will ring often, but you’re still basically waiting for it to ring, and hoping there’s a good prospect on the other end.

This doesn’t mean you can’t grow a successful business with inbound marketing alone.  You certainly can.  But if you want to change the mix of customers you attract, if you want more predictability and accuracy in hitting a particular revenue number, inbound alone likely won’t get you there.

I’ve seen this limit both with clients and with our own business.  Thanks to almost 2,000 blog posts and counting on our site, we see significant daily traffic and leads.  But if we map those inbound leads against our “target profile” for new customers, the overlap is small.

That organic growth has turned a one-person consultancy into a fast-growing agency, so I have nothing to complain about and am not going to stop focusing on content marketing and inbound.  But to consistently hit our revenue targets and particularly focus on the companies we think are the best fits for our services, we’re increasingly balancing inbound with strategic outbound marketing and new sales development activities as well.

Of course, if you’re doing this right, you’re still investing heavily in precise, targeted inbound marketing to mitigate the overall cost of building the pipeline you need.  If you’re doing it right, outbound is a supplement to that value with far more precision and efficiency.

Finding that balance for your business is a simple math problem.  Know the basic mechanics of your pipeline – how many qualified opportunities do you need to get a sale, how many qualified leads do you need to get a short-term opportunity.  Then be realistic and precise about how much of that pipeline (quantity and quality) your inbound efforts are currently providing.  The rest needs to be filled with outbound.

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