Last Updated: November 24, 2020

How can a business spread the word about its new product or service?

This very question led to the development of the marketing field as a whole, and is still the top problem pondered by professionals today. While various approaches have come and gone, one tried-and-true strategy has stuck with the field from the onset.

Outbound marketing attempts to initiate a conversation about a product or service by rapidly spreading word of its existance through a variety of traditional marketing methods. When most non-marketers think of the word “marketing,” its this classic definition that they refer to. Whether a marketer places advertisements on the television or the newspaper, these traditional methods are still highly regarded by many industry professionals.

What is outbound marketing?

Outbound marketing tries to reach consumers through general media advertising as well as through in-person contact. Depending on the venue, the approach can be extremely broad (TV advertising), thoroughly personal (face-to-face meetings), or “impersonally personal” (cold-calling or blanket emails). Through each outbound methods, sales leads are generated and then followed by internal sales representatives.

In the past decade, traditional marketing has clashed with inbound marketing (and thus, the designation “outbound marketing”). Inbound marketing is much more web-based, and positions the company to be easily found on the Internet, drawing customers in as they search rather than aggressively going “outbound” to seek them out.

While many larger companies argue that inbound marketing is more effective and efficient, the fact is that until people know and trust a company, there’s very little inbound marketing occurring. Think of inbound marketing as the ongoing development of a relationship; however, you can’t have a relationship without an initial introduction (or at least a chance meeting). Outbound marketing greatly increases the probability of that “first contact,” so that a business relationship can thereafter develop.

Who implements outbound marketing?

Types of Outbound Marketing

  • TV/radio advertisements
  • Telemarketing/cold-calling
  • Email marketing
  • Trade shows
  • Newspaper advertising
  • Press releases
  • Direct mail (brochures, postcards, catalogues)
  • Websites, blogging, and social media (which can be considered inbound or outbound)
  • Branded marketing (newsletters, key chains, pens, even flash drives)

As the Internet and mobile devices grow in popularity and offer new and creative methods of advertising, outbound marketing has lost some of its longstanding appeal. Nonetheless, some companies continue to dedicate as much as 90 percent of their marketing budgets toward outbound marketing. (See also Traditional Marketing)

The goal of outbound marketing is lead generation, making it critical to those businesses looking to gain customers. For those companies looking to get on the map, outbound marketing is the often way to reach the widest possible audience in the shortest amount of time.

Additionally, because certain outbound marketing strategies are no longer “in vogue”— for instance, a display ad in the Yellow Pages, or cold-calling people in the neighborhood—advertising through these means has actually become cheaper. Thus, a local restaurant might have a better return on investment through these means than by creating a social media presence.

For what kinds of customers is outbound marketing effective?

Generally speaking: The older the customer, the stronger the chance that outbound marketing will impact them. For one, it’s the style of marketing most older customers are used to. They’re comfortable with television and radio ads, and may even make a point of scanning newspaper ads and flyers when they’re ready to buy. Whereas inbound marketing is usually delivered via technologies that older consumers still struggle to understand—and trust—(most of) the media used in outbound marketing feels more familiar and welcoming.

Outbound marketing also proves to be particularly effective in business-to-business marketing, and/or with transactions involving higher-end products. Although businesses may research other companies (inbound marketing), ultimately they seek personal contacts established through face-to-face meetings, or networking at industry events and trade shows. (See also Industrial Marketing)

How is an outbound marketing campaign developed?

Although much of outbound marketing involves spreading a message to the broadest audience possible, the best outbound marketing strategies will nonetheless be somewhat targeted. No matter what kind of strategy is used, customers—individual or business—will be wading through a variety of marketing and branding messages, and its up to the business to make their message stand out.

The first step in an outbound marketing campaign is properly assessing a product or service. What makes it stand out—or could make it stand out? What need is it meeting in the marketplace—and who in particular has those needs?

Factors in Outbound Marketing

  • Market variation: Different markets require different campaigns.
  • Market accessibility: Channels and promotions may need to be expanded for hard-to-reach markets.
  • Novelty: Newer products need more explanation and persuasion.
  • Competition: More dynamic promotion is required where the competition is more fierce.
  • Budget: Work within your limits.

To determine the answers, businesses must collect both anecdotal and targeted data. Customer feedback helps businesses discern the buttons they’re already pushing (or failing to push), while internal customer lists allow them to develop “big pictures” of their current audiences.

With an established target, businesses move to create their messages. These messages generally include something that elicits a specific customer response—a link to a website, a phone number, or a physical address where someone can obtain more information (or use) the product or service.

Depending on the size of their target audience, businesses choose to disseminate their message on a variety of platforms. A mass audience will require some combination of mass media—television, radio, newspaper, magazine; or a strong Internet presence that could include viral videos, aggressive Facebook and/or affiliate advertising, etc. A local or regional business, on the other hand, may choose to conduct a direct-mail or phone campaign, or even to distribute flyers door-to-door so that there’s a sense of personal engagement (and thus, personal trust and/or obligation) involved. In turn, business-to-business marketers will seek to establish personal alliances through their presence at national and regional industry events, and through regular personal follow-up with potential business customers thereafter. (See also B2B Marketing)

What career titles work with outbound marketing strategies?

Product Marketing Managers

Product Marketing Managers are responsible for the outbound marketing activities for a company's products.

What do they do?

What type of salary should I expect?

  • Product Marketing Manager
    Median annual pay: $116,010
    Top earners: $187,199+
  • Outbound Marketing Assistant
    Median annual pay: $45,350
    Top earners: $96,040+
  • Marketing Copywriter
    Median annual pay: $62,260
    Top earners: $109,440+

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • craft the messaging and positioning for all products, conceiving and developing innovative marketing programs that drive demand
  • plan the launch of new products and releases, and manage the cross-functional implementation of the launch plan
  • organize events, from specific customer presentations and events, to conferences and stands at trade shows; and initiate relationships with key business and individual customers
  • help develop the sales tools (e.g., brochures, white papers, case studies, product demos, customer presentations) that will best support the outbound campaign
Education and Skills

Product marketing managers will need at least a bachelor’s degree in marketing, advertising, or a related field; a master’s degree or additional certification in one of these areas will give candidates a decided advantage. Managers will also need at least five years’ experience in product marketing, and well as a working knowledge of the product field being marketed.

Outbound Marketing Assistants

Outbound Marketing Assistants make personal “first contact” with potential customers, through cold-calling, emails, and other direct means, including representation at sales and marketing events.

What do they do?
  • initiate contact with potential clients, relating information about products and services ,as well as solicit opinions about those products and services.
  • direct pre-qualified customers to account executives via e-mail and/or CRM database
  • develop lists of prospects from print and online directories, and create reports on sales activity through telephone contacts and/or appointments
  • represent the business at events such as trade shows and technical briefings; also assist with planning of sales exhibits, education, and training conferences
Education and Skills

Marketing assistants do not necessarily need a college degree; in fact, they may be performing this job as they’re working toward their associate’s or bachelor’s degree, either as summer work or in a more limited fashion during the school year. It could provide invaluable experience to break into a company after graduation (or before, if you like the company you’re working for). That said, sales or call-center experience, as well as knowledge of the industry they’re serving, will prove helpful, especially when applying for a marketing assistant job with a more prestigious organization.

Marketing Copywriters

Marketing Copywriters are responsible for the messaging and positioning of outbound marketing efforts, creating content that works for each of the media they’re writing for.

What do they do?
  • create persuasive concepts, headlines and copy that helps readers/viewers/listeners both understand the product and want it
  • work with graphic designers, media people, and/or product developers to make sure the message is consistent—and actually describes the product accurately
  • grasp technical concepts and business language, and translate them into customer benefits
  • manage media relations, announcements, and public speaking opportunities
Education and Skills

Copywriters will need at least a bachelor’s degree in either marketing or communications, or fields related to either of these—and preferably will have education and/or experience in both. Product marketing experience in the field will also benefit candidates considerably. Especially at the corporate level, it’s also possible for future copywriters to find work in the field as part of a college internship.

How can a marketing school help you succeed?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

    GCU's Colangelo College of Business offers leading edge degrees that address the demands of contemporary business environments.

  2. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    Explore the bond between business and consumer behavior with a degree in marketing.

The heart of outbound marketing is communication—a skill imparted at marketing programs throughout the country. Marketing degree programs allow students to practice these skills in a “safe” environment before heading into the business world. Communications courses help students learn to adjust their messages to a wide variety of channels, including print, radio, TV, and digital media.

A marketing program will also train you to better understand your customers and their needs. Courses in consumer behavior will help you predict how customers will respond to different strategies, and market-research courses will teach you how to segment consumers and identify both existing and emerging market opportunities. You’ll also learn about business organization and management, including how to drive both sales and profits, as well as how to network with other leaders, businesses, and organizations.

If a career in outbound or traditional marketing interests you, request information from schools offering degrees in marketing.