Lafayette is home to multiple advertising agencies, each with their own creative measures for tackling the most up-to-date digital marketing strategies in today’s day and age. As with all businesses, marketing agencies are differentiated based on factors such as price, size, or even niche focus. No matter the difference between these advertising agencies, one thing is certain: we all engage in both inbound and outbound marketing. And just to be clear, agencies aren’t the only businesses that engage in these marketing tactics. Small, local businesses sometimes don’t have the necessary means to hire a marketing manager or outsource to a digital marketing agency—this doesn’t mean that they can’t engage in marketing themselves. Over time, the word ‘marketing’ has carried a confusing connotation, centering on the belief that promotion revolves around expensive methods and the need to pursue high-ticket branding consultants to see results. This is simply not the case. Will marketing your brand require dollars to be spent? Yes. Will marketing your brand require an excessive amount of dollars to be spent? No. Keep in mind, however, that with a smaller budget comes the need to spend your money wisely.

As a refresher, inbound marketing is an inexpensive technique based on offering your target customer base something of value, so that they come to you. Content marketing is at the forefront of inbound marketing, with creative content such as videos, infographics, e-books, and blogs taking the lead. Yes, you’re basically engaging in inbound marketing by reading this value-driven blog. Inbound marketing can be placed on your company’s social media pages and/or on your company’s website, and is readily available when users search for your business. Any brand can engage in this type of marketing, no matter your company’s size or level of marketing expertise. For example, a how-to video can be a great piece of content to share, and industries such as engineering, real estate, and health and wellness can benefit highly from this type of inbound marketing. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Shark Tank, or if you’ve ever heard someone say that they’ve spent zero dollars on marketing, then they’re most likely referring to inbound marketing techniques. Shark Tank itself is a form of marketing that costs no money for businesses, yet brings on an extensive amount of exposure for that brand. Social media is another form of inbound marketing that is little to no cost depending on certain factors. Not only does inbound marketing bring more awareness to your brand and associate it with a more helpful, advantageous position in consumer’s minds, but it can also fuel your search optimization efforts. Optimizing your website with ranking factors based on your inbound marketing tactics, whether it’s keywords from blogs or consistently uploaded video, is a great way to gain a competitive advantage when it comes to local SEO solutions.

There’s been a rise in inbound marketing methods during COVID-19 because companies are striving to create value for their clients and potential customers. Think back to the amount of free webinars you’ve seen promoted over the past 2 months. These webinars are a form of inbound marketing because they create value for end-users, and most do not require any money to be spent upon signing up. We’ve also seen e-books being offered for free, a rise in video content, and COVID-based social media posts. Regardless of the type of content you’re putting out in these trying times, any content that allows you to connect with your audience through offering value is a great step in the right direction.

On the flip side, outbound marketing is focused on marketing that you allocate money towards in order to see results. Compared to inbound marketing which is a pull strategy, outbound marketing is a push strategy, in which you’re pushing your product or service onto a customer by way of media payment; think general advertising. Whether it’s Facebook Ads, PPC Ads through Google, TV commercials, or radio spots, it requires buying your placement in order to get yourself in front of that next potential customer or client. As mentioned earlier, marketing costs money, but you don’t have to break the bank striving to implement it. Paid social media advertising is now more cheap than ever, and PPC ads, as the name suggests, only requires a payment when a user clicks. Both of these are great options for local businesses striving to get more digital exposure.

Paid media during COVID has been a challenging slope, but if or when a second wave hits, then at least you’ll have some insight into what other businesses are doing to adjust. Radio, for example, has decreased in listeners due to so many people staying home. OTT advertising on the other hand (think ads placed between your favorite Hulu series) are increasing because people are consuming a substantial amount of subscription-based media.

So which is right for you when it comes to inbound or outbound marketing?

Our answer: both, without a doubt. Companies must continue to engage in inbound marketing because it is a valuable form of brand awareness and outbound marketing can only increase this awareness. Take the time to plan out what works well for your brand, and capitalize on it. Grab your phone and take a video, set aside time to write a blog, or perhaps reach out to a local graphic designer for assistance on designing infographics for your company. With outbound marketing, it’s all about the budget you have in mind, as well as using it to reach your ideal buyer persona. Take every opportunity to engage in smart inbound marketing methods and align your brand’s budget with your needs to achieve your outbound marketing approach.

Combining both of these techniques will undoubtedly elevate your influence and increase your brand’s exposure. If you’re new to the world of marketing, and you’re not sure exactly where to start, then consider researching online sources, exploring opportunities to gain knowledge through books or certifications, or reach out to a local marketing agency.