On-line (Internet) Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

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 In the good old days, marketing was all about adverts in glossy magazines, newspapers and on billboards, commercials on television and radio, and mail outs delivered directly to homes.  There were no other options.  However today many people spend much of their free time on the internet so they are more likely to learn about new products from browsing websites, from online adverts or via friends’ recommendations on social media pages.

On-line Marketing vs Traditional Marketing

So when your business has a limited budget, should you focus on traditional marketing or put all your eggs into the online marketing basket?  In 2012 over 60% of all adults worldwide were using social media, and many people automatically turn to the internet to give them ‘expert’ advice on the products and services that they are considering buying.  They are influenced by reading customer reviews and take into consideration what their friends recommend on social media.

But is traditional marketing as dead as many would have you believe?  Some seem to think there is absolutely no value in paying for a TV or newspaper advertising campaign.  They are confident that online advertising and promotion via social media and blogging is the only way forward.  In fact it has been reported that many CEOs are pulling the rug from under traditional marketing as they don’t believe they are seeing a good return on investment – and all the hype about online marketing seems so enticing and of course, has lower upfront costs -highly attractive to the financial directors.

Whatever you have read, the only reliable answer to the question about where you allocate your marketing budget is mind-blowingly simple.  It depends utterly and wholly on your target market.  If you know that your target audience read newspapers and listen to the radio, then these are the media tools to focus on.  If your targets are more active on the internet and specific social media channels then these are the way to go.

You don’t need to employ pricey consultants to figure out who your target market is.  You know your products and services inside out and back to front.  You know who they were designed for, and who they will appeal to.  So your marketing strategy must aim to reach those targets.  And hey, here’s a pioneering idea – you can combine both traditional marketing and online marketing into one strategy!

Don’t be fooled by articles that fall firmly on one side or the other.  Traditional marketing is a long way from extinct for the very reason that it still works – when appropriate for your target market.  Use a combination of old and new to get the very best exposure for your company and your products.  And when you are considering your strategy think about some of the pro’s and con’s of both traditional and online marketing.

Traditional Marketing

The Pros:

  • Effective:  When an advert is intelligently different from all the rest, it can become a talking point.  Who can forget the brilliant Wonderbra billboard advertising campaign featuring Evan Herzigova wearing a push-up bra with the slogan ‘Hello Boys’ – widely acclaimed as causing a number of traffic accidents because male drivers were too busy gazing at her attributes.
  • Long lasting: When you take out an advert in a glossy magazine, you know that this will be around for the duration of the issue, whether it’s a week, month or three months.  Magazines are read by more than one person, and may get dipped in and out of many times – not many people read a magazine from cover to cover in one sitting.  This gives more brand impressions each time the advert is seen.
  • Brand recognition: When an advert appears in consecutive issues the regular reader starts to recognize the look of your advert and to remember your brand.  TV commercials with a great slogan can stay with a person for a long, long time.  Perhaps you remember the jingle,  “When you eat your Smarties, do you eat the red ones last?” which was used by Nestlé from the 1970’s to the 1990’s

The Cons:

  • Costly: Traditional advertising can be costly.  Full-page spreads in an upmarket magazine can cost you $5,000 – $10,000 or even more.  However many magazines and newspapers are reducing their advertising rates to try to tempt customers back to traditional marketing instead of taking the leap to online marketing.
  • Overlooked:  New studies indicate that people have a tendency to ignore traditional newspaper or billboard adverts – they have ‘ad-blindness’.  This is probably due to the fact that many people walk around with their trusty iPod locked into their ears, or their eyes glued to their iPhone checking for messages, so they are not even aware of their surroundings.  And if you choose to have costly TV adverts, your advert may not be seen by as many people as you hope.  Many people record TV programs to watch at a time convenient to them and fast forward through the TV commercials completely missing the advertiser’s message.

Online Marketing

The Pros:

  • Visible: When someone wants to buy a particular type of product, chances are that they will simply turn to the internet.  If you have a website which is well optimized for the search engines or a great blog, they will appear high up on the search engine results rankings when someone conducts a search using relevant keywords.
  • Cost effective: It costs nothing to set up your company profile on social media sites but you need to spend time and effort to reap the rewards of this type of marketing.  The most sensible, cost effective option is to hire a professional company who will post your posts and respond to your audience – basically managing effective social media marketing on your behalf at an affordable monthly price.  Other online marketing options such as Google pay-per-click adverts incur costs but again careful management either by you or by a professional company can control these.  Blogs and articles, which can help to get your company name out there, can be posted for free on your social media pages and on some article directories.
  • Brand recommendations: Social media is important to many people seeking recommendations about a product.  More than 90% trust brand recommendations from a friend.  If a friend liked a product, a restaurant, or a service they will have a more positive opinion of it than if they just see a clever advertising campaign.  Word of mouth recommendations are king of the social jungle and a great reason to ensure your business has an internet presence so your URL, YouTube video or Facebook page can be shared between friends.

The newly announced Facebook Graph deserves a special mention as this search feature will allow people to check out specific things about what their Facebook friends like.  For example, if you want to go for dinner but aren’t sure where to go, you’ll be able to search for “restaurants in Toronto that my friends have been to” and get a list.  All very Big Brother but this has the potential to be very important for businesses.

The Cons:

  • Overlooked: Do be mindful that not everyone will go online to check out what to purchase.  People still watch TV, listen to the radio, read hardcopy newspapers and magazines. Not everyone uses social media or if they do, they just do so to stay in contact with family and friends and find adverts irritating.
  • Time consuming:  All of your content, whether it’s for your website, blogs or your social media posts must be interesting and engaging.  It takes time to write good content and if you post hastily written blogs or articles, they won’t do much to increase your brand exposure as no one will bother to read them or share them.
  • Short lasting: Your carefully crafted posts on some social media pages have been estimated at having a shelf life of no more than 3 hours – then they become lost amongst more recent posts so they have little chance of being seen by your target market.
  • Brand condemnations: Friend recommendations and online customer reviews can be a double edged sword – great news when reviews are positive, but negative feedback can adversely affect sales.  Here’s an interesting example.  The no!no! hair removal system claims to be painless and effective and can even remove facial hair.  The company’s hype about the product is great and it is endorsed by doctors and dermatologists.  So far so good.  But if a would-be purchaser does their own internet research and checks out, more than half the reviewers give it a 1 star rating and have accompanying comments such as ‘it doesn’t work’.  This is likely to put many off making their intended purchase.

Tripadvisor is another forum with a lot of clout for people planning their next vacation or restaurant visit:  a good rating from Joe Public is a great endorsement but if your hotel has poor ratings, this may well lead to a dip in bookings.

On-line Marketing versus Traditional Marketing

Without a doubt, the potential power of online marketing is huge.  If you create a good strategy that will get your brand in front of your target market, you can get great exposure.  It might be cheaper than traditional marketing but you could argue that it takes a lot more time and effort – it’s a never ending labor of love:  your website needs to be updated regularly with new news and offers, social media posts should be frequent to keep the audience interested and followers of your blogs need to be confident that you will publish a steady stream of thought provoking articles.

However don’t overlook the large percentage of the population who shun the internet and acquire information about their potential purchases by reading the newspaper, watching TV and listening to the radio.  Traditional advertising campaigns are costly but a professional advert in a glossy magazine will get noticed by thousands of readers and build brand awareness.

For many industries with a wide target market, the only sensible solution is to define a marketing strategy that combines traditional advertising with online marketing.  Get your website professionally designed and search engine optimized, create company pages on social media and start populating them with great content, retaining a strong brand identity throughout.

When you create a strongly branded magazine advert, ensure it links right back to the website by including your website address and QR code which can be scanned by those with smartphones to take them directly to your URL.  Traditional marketing channels such as magazines are all too aware of the power of the internet and many have online versions where you advert will also be seen.

Combining old with new is definitely the best way forward for marketing the majority of companies in the short term future …. And we wait to see what the longer term future will bring.