Add Inbound to Your Outbound

by Matt Mattson

two-way-trafficNext time you find yourself printing out fliers, handouts, handbills, postcards or the like, stop to consider if you might be able to collect information WHILE you distribute information.

Many organizations stand in public or walk through highly populated areas handing out fliers, little quarter-sheets of paper, or nicely printed postcards to tell everyone who cares to read these slivers of deceased trees about their event, their organization, or their cause.  Instead of just handing out information to strangers (outbound information) who will likely just ignore your message, turn your little fliers into “nomination forms,” “questionnaires,” “surveys,” or “registration sheets” (inbound information).

For instance, we recently provided some consultation on marketing materials for a national fraternity’s expansion project.  They had designed some amazing looking fliers, postcards, and posters that were meant to “get the word out” about the new fraternity on campus.  That is smart to do for a lot of reasons, but I wondered if we couldn’t kick it up a notch and accomplish 2 tasks in one effort.  Here’s some advice we offered to the organization [all identifiers and taglines of the organization have been changed for proprietary reasons]…

“What if we took your organization’s “Men of Excellence” tag line and built a campaign off of that that said something like, “SEEKING 50 MOST EXCELLENT MEN ON CAMPUS” or “Are you in the TOP 50 Men of Excellence?”  or “Men of Excellence Award – seeking the top 50 men on campus that exemplify what it means to be Men of Excellence”  and then later in the semester, buy a full page ad in the campus newspaper at the end of the year and put 50 names and head shots in it of the people we’ve identified as being “Men of Excellence” – this can actually help drive a names list, is a good way to get referrals, etc.  The posters can explain how to nominate people.  The postcards can be nomination cards. The fliers can explain the nomination process. The marketing materials could be built around that campaign and it becomes a “hook” for the recruiters to talk to people on campus about (SIMILAR TO A RECRUITMENT SCHOLARSHIP).”

This idea is admittedly inspired by/stolen from the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Wyoming who thought of a similar “True Gentlemen” initiative.  Smart ideas are always the best ones to borrow.

While you get your organization’s “name out there,” you also get names on your names list.  This is the classic difference between “Mass Marketing” and  “Marketing For Names”.

Outbound marketing (essentially, SHOUTING ABOUT HOW AWESOME YOU ARE) is easy.  Inbound marketing takes a little creativity, but it is far more valuable to “get names on your list,” than it is to “get your name out there.”