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Why we need to stop the disconnect between online and offline marketing

Why we need to stop the disconnect between online and offline marketing

Today’s blog acknowledges a hard truth about the marketing industry: The boom of digital advertising is responsible for a sometimes less than well-mannered divide between those who almost correctly think they are the future and those who owned marketing for the rest of history prior and sometimes rightly wonder who these pesky young upstarts think they are acting like professionals.

As with most things in life, there’s some truth to both sides, but also an unnecessary air of competition that needs to be put to bed so that the general public can benefit from a productive and cohesive group of experts who are there to serve.

The fact of the matter is that when you draw from a wealth of knowledge on marketing psychology that can only come from (literally) centuries worth of context and combine that with dynamic real-time platforms utilising the latest technology, you can only win. Not only that but contrary to the opinions of some, print media is not dead, television isn’t going anywhere and people still listen to the radio (albeit in much changed forms).

So why should we be making more of an effort to connect the two? It’s the pros and cons of each platform along with the opportunities presented by a united front.

Offline or Traditional Marketing

First up, we’re slightly hesitant to use the word “traditional” when referring to those in this school given the potential connotations around dated methodology, but it’s a relevant term because as stated above this also brings with it the entire history of advertising up until this point. Context is something that print, TV, radio & all other offline forms have in spades. There are two different schools of thought on marketing history and depending on which you choose you’ll end up with two very different ages for it as a practice, but in a practical sense you could argue that it has been around for at least a few hundred years.

Something traditional marketing people have that online marketers don’t tend to is a deep understanding of this history that informs all of their decision making. They also tend to have a pretty great intuition as a result of that. This intuitive ability tends to be higher than that of digital marketers due to one of the potential pitfalls of offline advertising in that the ability to track that work can sometimes be a lot harder than it is to track anything online (or at the very least can’t be done with the same level of detail and accountability). For this reason, they need to be able to produce creative campaigns and content that have a noticeable enough impact that the client is is happy without that tracking.

Learning all of this and developing their intuition is usually something they’ve done through years of study, so don’t take that last point the wrong way. Traditional marketers tend to be highly skilled individuals with an extensive education behind them. The nature of their work easily separates the pretenders from the experts. They are the best people to go to for advertising creative ideas as well as overall creative strategy in the context of which offline platforms to target and how. But on that last point, this is where you’d need to bring in the digital expert in order to have that strategy bridge the gap.

Online or Digital Marketing

It’s hard to overstate the transformative effect that technology has had on advertising. From the level of reach that’s now possible, to the pinpoint accuracy of some targeting and the opening up of a whole new world to those who previously couldn’t afford to enter the fray, things are unrecognisable when compared to ten years ago and increasingly when compared just to the year prior.

The main pro that presents itself with digital marketing is the level of tracking and accountability that’s available along with the real-time maneuverability and agility that it offers. You can target audiences in ways never before imagined and use this data to constantly improve your offerings and the way that you present them almost instantly. Customer feedback is next level in this day and age and that information is incredibly valuable and actionable in ways that offline efforts just can’t be.

However, given the breakneck speed with which this technology advances, it’s sometimes a little bit like the wild west. That doesn’t mean that you can’t come across disciplined individuals in the field (and this writer in particular very much aims to fit that category), but there are very few genuine accredited courses in things like SEO, Social Media, Pay Per Click and the various other new platforms that consistently pop up. While this does democratise education in the field to a large degree (which allows great minds to step into the industry regardless of where they come from) it also means that there is no yardstick for skill levels and that opens the industry up to exploitation given that any person and their dog can “start an agency”.

It can also mean that people who specialise in different elements of these platforms can get a little bit insular and lose sight of the bigger picture when it comes to working not only with others in the online realm, but especially with those who operate offline. This is where the latter become worth their weight in gold when the two schools start to work together. Now don’t get us wrong, there are a lot of very good online marketers who do great work in a cohesive and co-ordinated way, but when you take the pros we talked about for both schools and combine them, things definitely do step up a notch.

Why the combination of offline and online is best

Don’t like the inability to track offline advertising quite as well? You’d be surprised at the ways in which online reporting platforms can actually overlap to report on these channels. Don’t like things to be too data-driven without much behavioural analysis or an overarching creative theme? Bring in a traditional marketer. The best thing about having the two work together is that a lot of the cons tend to be cancelled out by pros on the other side. These two schools have always been complimentary, but it has been a wrongly overlooked fact for too long due to the false idea that one is the future and one is the past. Given that we consistently work with people across the board, we’ve seen what a missed opportunity this has been for far too many businesses as well as those within the industry itself.

Anyone can tell you that communication is the key to great project management and marketing, so allowing a divide between those doing your digital presence and those doing everything else is an immediate disadvantage. Right off the bat you should be getting everyone in a room together to work out what the right plan is for you in order to maximise reach, retain accountability, speak in a way that resonates, build great creative and keep that message consistent no matter how your potential customers are viewing said content.

Speaking of which, it’s also important to factor in attribution. Simply put, not everyone who drives past your billboard is going to pull over and write down the phone number or website. But they may well remember the business name and Google it later, so you’ll want to make sure you rank well. Even if they don’t, they might vaguely remember the imagery or message and if you’re geographically targeting your online advertising to those in the same area then chances are you’ll be right back in front of them at a later point to jog their memory and get them onto your website. There is an almost endless variety of ways in which these various channels can contribute to each other and the best part is that it allows you to utilise the power of repetition without repeating yourself with the exact same advertisements over and over again, which is well proven to put potential customers off.

So to businesses starting to think about how to put themselves out there, save yourself the extra meetings and get everyone who’ll be contributing into the room together from the start. And to those in the industry, save yourself the isolation of trying to make your one or two channels work independently when there are others that you could lean on to increase results!

As always, if you’d like to explore the above approach for your business, feel free to contact us!

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