Inbound Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing: A Comprehensive Comparison for B2B

When marketing your business-to-business (B2B) company, there are many approaches, tactics, and trends to keep up with. At ADV Marketing, we believe B2B marketing should be simple and accessible for all business owners. In this article, we will break down the two different approaches to B2B marketing, so you can decide which is best for your business. 

The traditional marketing funnel and the account-based marketing (ABM) funnel are flipped. Because ABM starts with identification first, marketing is more effective and resources are more targeted.

There are two main approaches to B2B marketing: inbound and traditional marketing. Both approaches aim to achieve business growth and engage customers but employ different methods and tactics. 


One of the fundamental disparities between inbound marketing and traditional marketing lies in their approach to targeting. Inbound marketing focuses on attracting and engaging a specific target audience. This approach is especially key for B2B companies seeking to maximize their marketing efforts. By understanding their target market’s needs, preferences, and challenges, inbound marketers create tailored content and campaigns to attract qualified leads. An example could be a B2B company running targeted LinkedIn ads to profiles with specific job titles or company affiliations within the business’ target market.

Case in Point:

With one of our clients in the energy technology space, we created an in-depth consumer profile complete with a list of relevant LinkedIn profiles, so the client knew exactly who they were targeting. From there, we could help our client build a content implementation plan that could appear at the right place, at the right time, with the right content.

In contrast, traditional marketing takes a broader approach, casting a wider net to reach a larger audience, often using mass media channels like television, radio, or print advertising. A B2B example would be a company like Quickbooks running TV ads (2022 Superbowl anyone?) and billboard campaigns. 


Data-driven decision-making has become increasingly vital in today’s marketing landscape. Inbound marketing excels in this area by leveraging advanced analytics tools and techniques. Marketers employing inbound strategies can collect detailed data about website visitors, social media engagement, email open rates, which then indicate what audiences are interested and how they find the information. These insights measure the effectiveness of marketing efforts and optimize campaigns for better results.

Case in Point:

ADV Marketing uses inbound marketing analytics to create custom-tailored campaigns for clients driven by tangible results. Social media, website updates, and email campaigns are all based on previous analytics.

On the other hand, traditional marketing typically relies on more conventional market research methods, such as surveys and focus groups, which may provide valuable insights but lack the granular and real-time data offered by inbound marketing analytics. An example of B2B traditional marketing analytics could be a company hosting an event seeking feedback through a survey from attendees to enhance future events. 

Lead Generation

Lead generation is a crucial aspect of any marketing strategy for B2B. Inbound marketing adopts a buyer-centric approach, focusing on the buyer’s journey and providing valuable content at each stage. Inbound marketers attract and nurture leads by offering relevant and informative content, eventually converting them into customers. This process builds trust and credibility, establishing a solid foundation for long-term customer relationships. An example in B2B marketing would be LinkedIn content tailored to each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Buyer’s Journey

Buyers go through awareness, consideration, and decision stages in their purchasing decisions.

Traditional marketing, in contrast, often emphasizes overall conversions and reaching a large number of potential customers through channels like advertising, cold calling, or direct mail. While traditional marketing can generate leads, it may need a more personalized touch and nurturing that inbound marketing provides. It’s widespread for sales teams to use traditional marketing lead generation in some B2B companies. Companies that sell a product to a large client base (for example, a company that sells wiring to new buildings) may use cold calling to get initial leads. Then, senior sales team members can use inbound marketing to build a relationship with the potential client and close the sale. 

Didn’t know sales and marketing should be working together? Read our article, Let’s Talk about Marketing and the Military, to learn more about sales and marketing roles. 

Brand Position

Inbound and traditional marketing also diverge in their approaches to establishing brand positions—inbound marketing emphasizes thought leadership and subject matter expertise. Inbound marketers position themselves as authorities by consistently creating valuable content, sharing insights, and engaging in industry discussions. This strategy fosters trust and credibility among their target audience, driving organic traffic, and attracting loyal customers. Ways to see this in B2B marketing include publishing technical papers, case studies, or having employees present at industry conferences.

In contrast, traditional marketing places a greater emphasis on brand recognition and recall. Through repetitive exposure and mass media campaigns, traditional marketers aim to create strong brand associations and familiarity in the minds of consumers. B2B examples include sponsoring an industry event or conference or running an ad on social media or in an industry magazine.

Inbound marketing and traditional marketing represent two distinct approaches to achieving marketing goals. Inbound marketing leverages targeted strategies, data-driven decision-making, and a focus on the buyer’s journey to attract and engage specific audiences. On the other hand, traditional marketing employs broader tactics, focusing on mass reach, brand recognition, and recall. Understanding the differences between these two approaches is crucial for business owners and executives to determine the most effective strategies for their businesses. Ultimately, the choice between inbound and traditional marketing depends on a business’s specific goals, resources, and target audience. Have questions about which is the right marketing style for your company? Contact us at

More Like This

From Waste to Wealth: The RNG Rundown

From Waste to Wealth: The RNG Rundown

Content we created for our client in the energy industry. Key Takeaways RNG is a fast-growing alternative to conventional natural gas, with a market expected to reach $104 billion (USD) by 2032 RNG is a biogas derived from the decomposition of organic matter, reducing...