The Many Forms of Marketing

Understanding the multitude of marketing strategies out there can be hard.
But never fear! We’ve broken it down for you.


According to the American Marketing Association, marketing can be defined as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Ask anyone today who’s dabbling in marketing, and each will likely give you their own unique definition, particularly depending on the form of marketing they focus on. Wait … you thought marketing was marketing? Hold on to your hats, boys and girls, this ride’s about to get bumpy.

Marketing then and now

Traditional marketing has existed for quite some time, probably since people first started selling things, and the techniques were pretty tried and true. But the technological advances of the past 30 years have accelerated things a bit—kinda like going from the horse and buggy days to warp speed on the Millennium Falcon, with no stages in between.

You can segment marketing down into dozens of categories, from more old school methods such as telemarketing and direct mail marketing, to newer strategies like mobile and viral marketing. But for our purposes today, we’ll focus on the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, as well as the subtle distinctions between interactive, digital and internet marketing.

In or Out—Which should you choose?

At its simplest, outbound marketing could be described as any marketing efforts focused on pushing a product or service on a customer, while inbound centers on efforts to earn a consumer’s interest rather than buying it.

Outbound marketing is probably what your grandparents would think of if asked to explain marketing. Its methods involved pitching products via radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, direct-mail, billboards, event sponsorships and the like. The modern take on this strategy would be mail blasts, banner ads, pay-per-click and spam.

Inbound marketing on the other hand is focused on creating a different kind of message, one that is educational, transparent and engaging, with the goal to attract consumers naturally while ultimately engaging them with your client or product. Not only does inbound come across to most people today as less confusing and deceitful, it also is way more engaging, comprehensive and educational.

Interactive, Digital & Internet—
Three unique types

We wouldn’t blame you if you thought that interactive, digital and internet marketing were one and the same. But they are actually each their own thing. Time for a break down.

Interactive marketing is akin to having a conversation—in other words, both sides should be participating. Consumers aren’t interested in being treated as a number, and this form of marketing makes an effort to acknowledge their individuality. A great example of this is the way a website will make recommendations for you based on your previous purchases.

Digital marketing takes the traditional marketing idea of push/pull, except it happens in a digital arena. For instance, the push part would entail using a method such as email or content marketing to reach out to consumers and inspire them to engage with your client or product. The pull part is when the consumer actually seeks out your company/product with a digital search and establishes a connection with you by signing up for emails or some other form of contact.

Lastly, internet marketing entails something as simple as any efforts that involve selling something via the internet to the blog posts, articles or banner ads that you utilize to drive traffic to your website.

Marketing has definitely evolved in recent decades, but the changes have not only made it more effective, but also more personalized—something consumers can’t seem to get enough of.