There’s a lot of buzz out there about how inbound marketing is in – and outbound marketing is out.

But a recent Marketers’ Benchmark Report indicates that all this outbound vs. inbound talk is just a lot of noise.

Marketers ranked brand awareness, email marketing, lead generation and event marketing – all outbound marketing activities — among their most critically important initiatives. What’s more, email marketing — clearly an outbound tactic — was rated the top-performing marketing channel in terms of ROI. So outbound marketing is still very much relevant.

As marketers, we’re constantly experimenting with new technologies and tactics, but the fundamentals of marketing remain. As I like to say, positioning drives messaging drives awareness drives lead generation. That’s fundamental Marketing 101 stuff. So you can use inbound marketing tactics like SEO and social media all day long to entice more traffic to your site, but if you don’t have good branding and content that differentiate your offerings once they get there, then it’s all for nothing.

So this inbound versus outbound thing is really just an artificial debate. It’s not either/or. Inbound needs outbound and vice versa. So how do you make sure you come up with a marketing plan that balances the best of inbound and outbound marketing tactics aligned with your business goals?

Here are 3 tips to help you establish your marketing priorities for the remainder of the year:

1. Build integrated campaigns. In our work with clients over the past 20-plus years, we’ve always found that an integrated marketing approach typically delivers the best results. One-off marketing activities done in a vacuum simply don’t deliver the ROI goods. Be sure to incorporate both inbound and outbound tactics in your integrated campaigns.

2. Branding is fundamental. Your brand is more than your website design. Branding is the way you do business, how you talk to the market and how your sales team talks to prospects. If you just pour all your resources into inbound, then your brand will be impersonal and generic and won’t reflect your company’s unique value proposition.

3. Understand your target audience. If you focus too much on your brand and your products, you run the risk of boring your prospects. After all, they care most about finding solutions to their challenges – not your products. So you need to get a deep understanding of your target audience through focus groups, surveys, customer advisory boards and buyer persona interviews. Skip this step and you risk losing prospects because your messaging doesn’t engage them – and you even risk losing clients when your solution fails to meet their needs.

What side do you come down on in the inbound vs. outbound debate? What are your marketing priorities? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or email me at [email protected].