We’ve been really stoked over the last half-decade to see that increasing numbers of marketers in the life science space are getting excited about the idea of inbound marketing.
But it is one thing to get excited about it and entirely another to actually do something about it.
It takes bravery for you as a marketer to advocate inbound marketing because it is a completely different animal than old-school outbound marketing, so it can be difficult to swallow at the corporate level.
But there are huge rewards for those marketers and companies who can re-shape their outlook to embrace this relatively new opportunity.
Inbound vs Outbound marketing
Inbound marketing is the art of drawing customers to your company by earning their admiration, respect and attention. This is done by weaving intrinsic value into your marketing campaigns so that the potential customer benefits whether or not they buy from you.
Contrast that to old-school outbound marketing, which boils down to one-shot opportunities to interrupt your researchers while they are doing something else and wave a placard from the sidelines to show what you’ve got. Unless the researcher actually buys what you are offering, they (and your company) receive no benefit.
The allure of inbound marketing
People are excited about inbound marketing because they can see the potential. If you spend $X on creating and delivering some amount of genuinely helpful, educational content for your audience, that funding and effort will pay your company dividends for years, even decades to come.
As an example of the power of this, consider this article: How SDS-PAGE works. We published that article on Bitesize Bio back in 2008. It took about 4 man-hours to create.
Over the last 5 years it has attracted over tens of thousands of bioscientists to our website. Even better, because it has built authority, it now attracts hundreds of visitors per day and will do so for the foreseeable future.
Those are already highly qualified leads because of the subject matter. You’re only going to read a detailed article about SDS-PAGE if you are a bioscientist, right? So with this one article we have a wonderful opportunity that attracts hundreds of prime customers to our doorstep every day. Our researchers get a really nice piece of education, we get to engage with them and subtly show them what we’ve got. And that is how we’ve built a monthly audience of hundreds of thousands of bioscientists absolutely organically.
I challenge you to show me an outbound lead generation campaign with this efficacy, specificity and longevity. It just does not exist. This is why inbound marketing is too good an opportunity to miss.
Where the fear of inbound marketing comes from
So why isn’t everyone doing inbound marketing? The problem is that if you spend $X on inbound marketing, it gives you $X less to spend on outbound marketing, and companies are addicted to outbound marketing.
They’re addicted because they get a quick, verifiable hit from every cash injection they put into outbound marketing. Spend $Y on an eblast, track $Z of sales from it and calculate the return on investment (ROI).
Marketing teams are set up to measure their campaigns with this short term outlook, so individual marketers are stuck working within this structure.
In such a structure an inbound marketing campaign looks bad. You need upfront investment for an ROI that can’t be measured in direct sales, and will be delivered in the medium, long and very long term, rather than in the short term.
The lack of a verifiable short-term ROI is what turns a lot of companies away from inbound marketing. It is a leap of faith.
The corporate leap of faith
This is where I think the paradox lies. Individual marketers can see the glittering treasures that lie in wait if they could just get their teeth into inbound marketing.
But until there is a commitment of budget, and more importantly: mindset at the corporate level to support them, these creative individuals are stuck with dutifully fulfilling their short-term ROI targets. And that can only be done through outbound marketing.
Bravery and its rewards
As in a great many of life’s pursuits, the decision on whether or not to make this brave leap of faith will determine to a great extent which companies are the winners and losers in the long run.
Those who invest in inbound marketing will establish a library of content that will build an ongoing presence and respect in the awareness of their customer base, not to mention a search engine footprint, both of which will drive reputation, leads and sales naturally.
This will progressively reduce their need for expensive one-shot outbound campaigns, and give them an advantage over their competitors who still rely on outbound.
We’re making progress
It is definitely shifting though. We’re seeing the ratio of marketers opting for inbound (vs outbound) campaigns improve year after year on Bitesize Bio, and we are seeing companies develop real traction with their campaigns, especially with our new features that add value every time their content is viewed.
Long may that continue because it means that what the individual marketers know is finally starting to filter through to the corporate level. And that’s all the better for company and customer alike.