Inbound and content marketing is obviously all the rage. In fact, three out of four marketers across the globe make inbound marketing a priority

But I'm always surprised to see certain companies using inbound marketing when it really makes no sense for their business at all.

But Larry, you ask: Companies wouldn't be doing it if it didn't work, right?

True - but sometimes it works too well, and the business isn't set up for the results. Or sometimes your target market isn't searching for you online.

There are actually several reasons inbound marketing isn't right for your business, and we'll explore a few of them now ...

1. When Your Target Market Isn't Searching for You Online

Is your ideal client a Fortune 500 CMO? Do you really think this person is spending even 10 minutes in their extremely busy day searching on Google for the topics you're writing about?

Sure, maybe a few of them will see your article on LinkedIn, and maybe they'll click through, but at the end of the day, if you only have a small number of specific people in your target market, you'll likely find more success identifying who they are and engaging in some good ol' fashioned networking, or ad targeting to specific individuals on Google, Facebook or even targeting companies and job titles on LinkedIn.

So ask yourself if you have an extremely niche market. This is really an exercise in better understanding the personas you are trying to reach.

Then figure out how to reach that market in the best possible way. Strangely, outbound marketing can be underrated, but is actually a truly powerful tool in such cases.

2. When You Have Limited Capacity to Service Customers

Not all companies are set up to service the influx of customers that can come from inbound marketing.

If you run a small consulting business that maxes out at 20 clients, my question to you would be: Why put so much effort into boiling the ocean, when all you really need is a trickle of business which you could probably get via referrals and other easier means?

Or, perhaps you're an ecommerce setup that hand-knits kitten sweaters from 1920s yarn, and it takes you a really long time to create a small quantity of your product. What would you do if your inbound marketing brought you 100 orders a month suddenly?

These are things to seriously consider before embarking on an all-out inbound marketing journey.

3. When You Want to Set the Bar Higher

If you're only doing inbound marketing and no other outbound marketing, you're actually setting the bar too low. Let me illustrate: Imagine your LinkedIn strategy was just accepting the invitations that came in every day.

If your only strategy was just accepting inbound requests, do you think you'd be as successful as if you dedicated an equal or greater amount of time expanding your network proactively with people who didn't even think to connect?

The truth is, you're not really getting the best possible customers because it's possible that some of the most lucrative accounts might not be actively looking for your products or solutions.

One of the challenges with Inbound Marketing is that you're not really creating new demand for your stuff - you're capturing more the demand that already exists.

That's why conventional advertising like billboards, print and TV commercials (no matter how ridiculous it sounds and even though some of it is in a decline) is still alive today. It's reaching people who don't even know yet that they need what you're selling.

So Do You Hate Inbound Marketing or What, Larry?

Absolutely not! I'm a huge believer of content/inbound marketing for many different types of businesses, and I'm definitely not suggesting you stop it.

But there are certain cases where it really makes no sense to be so aggressive with it, and I want businesses to evaluate the time and energy they put into a strategy to ensure it's going after the best return.

Published on: Nov 16, 2015
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.