The marketing world has been fascinated with inbound marketing for years. Is inbound always the right way to go?

And are there parts of your market where inbound is the right approach, and others for which outbound is better?

Three types of targets

When considering who you wish to market your business to, there are generally three key targets you should focus your energy on:

  1. Target role and company — this is one or more key senior roles in the company you really want to sell to. They are the decision makers, or perhaps the right starting point.
  2. Secondary roles in those companies — these are roles that sit around the target role. They aren’t as key, but they are valid and aligned.
  3. Unknown targets — these include companies and roles you don’t know or haven’t considered, but who have shown interest in the problem that you solve for the market.

Understanding how each of these are different makes selection of tactics a little easier.

Inbound or outbound?

Adapting your marketing strategy for each audience is key. Different targets are worth more or less to you, and will require different approaches. But what’s the best strategy for each target? Think about core role, support role, and happy accidents.

Strategic targets:

Your inner circle is made up of the target roles in the target companies — the type of buyer and the type of business that you really want to sell to.

When it comes to this group, outbound tactics should be precisely aimed directly at these key roles. This target is the ‘special few’ that hold the right position in one of the companies you want to target. It’s important to do your homework, put your best foot forward, create a valid business reason for the meeting, and then outbound. Inbounding is too imprecise.

Support roles:

The second group of targets are those who are in secondary roles in these same target companies.

While your marketing strategy might be designed for roles like Head of Marketing, Head of Sales and CEO/Divisional Director, there may also be somebody in a supporting role within the marketing function (using this example) who may be willing to coach you into a meeting with your primary target.

These secondary roles may not be your primary target, but they are valid nonetheless.

For your middle circle, because they are less important we want to use high volume outbound tactics like bulk email, telemarketing and direct email because they’re more efficient, less direct and have lower unit costs.

Unknown (happy accidents):

The third and final group is those whose company name you might not know, whose titles you certainly don’t know (because they’re obscure) and who you didn’t know were interested — but they are.

For this audience, we use indirect tactics like:

  • Organic and paid search
  • Organic and paid social
  • Networking
  • Public relations
  • Guest blogging
  • Conference presentations

This segmented approach is used to reach as many potential targets as possible at the lowest cost of acquisition, and using a tactic that aligns to their role.

Targeting in Funnel Plan

You need your whole team to buy in to this distinction.

Funnel Plan helps make communicating your target selections easy, as it encourages you to really hone in on who your ideal customer is by discovering whose problem you solve, and what tactics to use for each segment.

When we describe the target market, there are two important pieces we capture in the printed Funnel Plan:

Ideal Client profile

These are the characteristics that are true of every segment that you want to target.

For example, you may have 50 companies in one industry and 50 in another who you would love to have as clients. What are the common characteristics like the size, age, growth, trajectory, structure or geography that are true for both segments?


Using these characteristics, you next need to identify the segments including the role and the type of business, together with how much of your marketing effort you plan to give them. It’s also worth noting how mature they are as buyers of products or services like yours.

Here’s an example:

  • 30% of your energy to the Heads of Sales and Marketing (inner circle)
  • 30% of your energy to the direct reports of those roles as the secondary audience (middle circle) and;
  • 30% to the inbounds from other businesses that haven’t been identified as a target, but they’re looking for you (outer circle) and perhaps;
  • 10% to ‘other’

So, that’s how we play it out in Funnel Plan, before producing the presentation and a one-pager to share your strategy and tactics with the team.

If you have a Funnel Plan already, you know how easily it helps you distinguish your target market and shape a clear, actionable plan for growth.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out and grab yourself your very own Funnel Plan.

I hope you got value out of this month’s Funnel Vision blog. We’ll have a new blog up next month in the same place. Until then, may your funnel be full and always flowing.

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Our thanks this week to:

Bella Newton for blog production

Amy Dethick for video production

Hugh Macfarlane for scripting and presenting this week’s show