Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Inbound vs. Outbound: The Confounding Conundrum

First, clarity on terminology:

Inbound = inquiries that come to a company when someone requests more info via the website or a phone call. Outbound = a salesperson's efforts to create leads via cold-calls, "working their network", etc.

As part of SHIFT's "Quest for PR Measurement" I spoke to a very bright guy, the CEO at one of SHIFT's client companies. I won a bet with him and the poor bastard's now enlisted to our virtual team of PR:Sales experts.

The gist of our debate yesterday was on whether we should attempt to measure JUST inbound sales leads, since outbound lead generation is a) more squishy and b) more dependent on a salesperson's contacts and competence than on marketing effectiveness. The CEO's opinion is that we should focus on Inbound Lead Measurement (specifically, helping our clients tie qualified leads back to their source, including PR but also other marketing programs such as direct mail). I tend to agree.

But then there's that Confusing Conundrum to pay off: fair enough that it's easier and more relevant to measure Inbound Marketing Effectiveness, but, is it not ALSO true that good marketing programs create deliverables used by Sales?

I am thinking about everything from White Papers to Article Reprints to Press Releases; these materials are integral to Outbound Sales, e.g., when a sales guy uses a reprint of the latest press hit as an excuse to get in front of the prospect again, and maybe even leads off his communication with talking points gleaned from the article (which in itself has lended more credibility to his sales message). Problem: yeah, this is true and happens every day but it is so subjective and variable and near-impossible to capture as a datapoint in measuring Marketing Effectiveness.

I guess I just selfishly want some credit! ;)

As we solidify our methodology for PR:Sales Measurement (Inbound), the good news is that we've also hit on a technology-based service to impact Outbound processes. Not as measurable, but value-add nonetheless.

More later.

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