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Outbound Marketing


DisciplinesMarketing > Strategy > Outbound Marketing

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Outbound marketing is what people often think about when they hear the word 'marketing' and is largely about communicating to target markets to inform and persuade them about the offering. Questions asked here include:

  • What should the product look like? What packaging should be used?
  • Who needs to know about the offering (including customers, sales people, partners, etc.)? What do they need to know?
  • How can we create desire and demand?
  • What persuasive messages shall we used?
  • What channels of communication and media shall we used (mail, trade shows, websites, etc.)?
  • What literature is needed? (flyers, technical sheets, web pages, etc.)?
  • What general styling should be used throughout, including fonts, logos, etc.
  • How can we actively engage customers?
  • How can we direct and help others to this overall purpose, including sales people, retailers and other intermediaries?

The heart of outbound marketing is communication, which is often persuasive in style. The key goal is to generate demand for the product or service that leads to sufficient sales whereby revenue and profit goals may be met.


An outbound marketing department in a big company is organized into sub-teams by target market and customer segment. A separate core team defines the branding and overall marketing approach and then, within each sub-team, marketing materials are produced for each product along with advertising, promotions and so on. There are also roles for coordinating with wholesalers and retailers, including providing them with point of sale materials.

In a small company there is one person who does all the marketing. This work is mostly in support of the direct sales team, plus some organizing of customer events.


Outbound marketing is often organized in 'campaigns' which are run as projects around specific objectives. Product launch is a classic campaign, where individual activities such as presentation events are produced as well as the creation of materials for ongoing promotion. Other campaigns may be used to sustain attention, refresh views and counteract competitor actions.

The extent of outbound marketing done depends on factors such as:

  • Market variation: differences within markets may require multiple campaigns.
  • Market accessibility: When people are difficult to reach, more channels and promotions may be needed.
  • Novelty: Newer products need more explanation and persuasion.
  • Competition: Greater competition needs more dynamic promotion and response.
  • Budget: Marketing is expensive and there is always a limit.

Outbound marketing can use two very different philosophies. A push approach uses traditional flyers, adverts and other communications that are pushed at customers, who are assumed to be passive recipients. The alternative is to use a pull approach, which focuses more on creating demand and use more engaging approaches. In practice, much marketing uses a combination of both principles, although it is useful to deliberate consider the balance of these when planning campaigns.

With global markets, the internet and high competition, traditional outbound marketing has been challenged on many fronts and the big-budget blockbuster launch has become less practical for some, yet essential for others (especially those with deeper pockets and who can do simultaneous worldwide launches). Alternatives include more creative lower-cost forms such as guerrilla, viral and social marketing methods which engage customers in the promotional process.

The number of people and specialization of roles in outbound marketing typically increases with the size of the company, which is often reflected in more products and larger, more complex markets. Role activity can include:

  • Planning and management of overall strategy and specific campaigns.
  • Creation of physical and electronic materials, including copywriting and layout design.
  • Managing media relationships, including providing the press with articles and fielding queries from them.
  • Organizing events, from specific customer presentations and events, to conferences and stands at trade shows.
  • Assessing and reporting on the success of campaigns and products in the marketplace.
  • Managing relationships and interactions with various partners, including key customers, sales people, retailers and other intermediaries. 

The terms  'Outbound Marketing' and 'Marketing Communications' are sometimes used interchangeably.

See also

What is Marketing?


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