finch natural selection In the 1800s, Charles Darwin made an extraordinary discovery in the Galapagos Islands. He uncovered 14 species of finches, where each of their beaks evolved over time in order to properly consume the food available on its island. This discovery ultimately led Darwin to the Theory of Evolution (or what’s also referred to as “Adapt or Die”), one of greatest revolutions of human history. Without the finches’ ability to adapt to the changing food supply, they all would have simply died out.

When you think about Darwin’s Theory of Evolution , you may first think of its original application to animals, but in our business ecosystem, it isn’t much different. Survival of the fittest applies in business as it does in nature, and in today’s corporate environment, the evolution of buyer behavior is causing the need for both B2B and B2C companies to adapt.

Marketing Evolution

1. Your Buyers Are Changing - There’s no doubt that the way consumers and businesses are buying today is different than it was 10 years ago. Even 5 years ago. Heck, even a few days ago.  We can largely thank the Internet for this, and the constant emergence of new marketing communications channels such as social networking and mobile. The way businesses market to and sell to potential buyers has changed.
  • Buyers not only have access to more information, but information generated by other consumers, not just companies. This puts the buyer in more control than ever before.
  • Buyers wish to consume information when they want and how they want.
  • There is an increasing amount of resistance from being spammed by irrelevant marketing messages and gobbledygook . Today’s buyer prefers to be educated and not sold.

buyer behavior graph Image credit: Technoligence, LLC.

2. Studies Show the Decline of Traditional (Outbound) Marketing - The societal move away from accepting and responding to traditional marketing – advertising, direct mail, telemarketing, etc. – proves the changing buyer is real. Studies show:  

  • 78% of internet users are conducting product research online 1
  • 70% of the links search users click on are organic – not paid 2
  • 84% of 25-34 year-olds have left a favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising 3
  • Companies spent 17% less on trade shows in 2009 verses 2008 4
  • US internet spend 3x more minutes on blogs and social networks than on email 5

This presentation contains dozens more stats that illustrate this shift: 


“Search engines, blogging and other Internet trends have fundamentally transformed the way people and businesses purchase products, but most small businesses still use outdated and inefficient marketing methods.” states HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan.


Simply put, if you’re still heavily relying on outbound marketing tactics, it’s time to transform your marketing and adapt to the changed buyer.

3. Companies Have Greater Success with New (Inbound) Marketing

The shift away from outbound marketing acceptance presents you with tremendous opportunity: to invest in Inbound Marketing – a new way of marketing that relies on earning people’s interest instead of buying it.

Take this success story for example:

Moonworks, a construction and renovation company , once dedicated 99% of its marketing budget to traditional, outbound marketing (utilizing the yellow pages, newspaper ads and direct mail). Realizing this was costly and no longer effective, Moonworks decided to allocate more of its budget to Inbound Marketing (creating great content, blogging, search engine optimization, etc.). This resulted in a 385% increase in monthly organic search traffic while reducing costs by $10,800 per month . ( read full story )

Marketing Takeaway

Today’s buyer wants to be educated, not sold to.  Because of this, Marketing requires less interruptive, outbound marketing tactics and more engaging, inbound techniques. As Darwin stated, "survival is ultimately dependent on the ability to change and evolve."  Adopting inbound marketing now will help you attract and acquire more customers than ever before and is your best defense against extinction in this evolving economy.  

Why hasn't your company switched to inbound marketing?

BONUS: Some helpful resources to transform your marketing

1 Pew Internet & American Life Project, May 2010
2 MarketingSherpa, March 2007
3 HowToTV, April 2008
4 2009 Exhibit Marketing Survey
5 The Nelson Company, November 2010

Originally published Apr 5, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated July 08 2013


Inbound Marketing