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January 29, 2012 at 9:54 PM 2 Comments

Old school communications vs hip digital campaigns

By Peter Wharton

One of the questions I am most frequent asked is ‘’what is the most effective way to promote my products and services – traditional or digitized social media?’’ whatever the industry.

So what's most effective?

1.     Twitter and blogs versus PR?

2.     Websites versus tradeshows?

3.     On-line display ads versus print and outdoor?

4.     YouTube versus TV and radio?

5.     Webinars versus ‘live’ training sessions?


Usually this isn’t the most pressing issue to be tackled by far.  Ensuring there are clear business and marketing objectives,  forming the basis of a strong brand, defining go-to-market and marketing strategies obviously need to be defined and agreed first. However, assuming this is all in place, here’s my take on battle between traditional and digital.  

The ten activities mentioned above all have their merits and whether they are labelled old school traditional or modern day digital is irrelevant regarding their effectiveness. What’s important is determining the most effective way for the company to influence its target audience and meet its business objectives. 

Digital is certainly on the rise, there’s no doubt that practically every company is spending a bigger proportion of their marketing budget on digital every year which means that there is a general recognition in the shift in culture and marketing science, and technology is tracking it closely. The advantage of social media is the opportunity to engage the customer, not just communicate product benefits hence the enormous budgets from consumer companies allocated to Facebook and Twitter activities.  But its not just the consumer companies, in B2B many surveys show that most buyers use the web to research and investigate potential solutions before making an acquisition.A 2011 Worldcom Public Relations Group study showed B2Bs are generally increasing significantly their investment in social media channels.  

So where does that leave so-called old school marketing campaigns? There definitely isn’t a shortage of ads on any of the multiplying number of TV channels in any country, and no one is going to be paying out for advertising just for the fun of it. While there are fewer printed magazines and newspapers than 20 years ago, advertising space in these publications is still prominent.

So, a company really is spoilt for choice. If you know and understand your target customer (and you won’t be in business long if you don’t), you have to assess the most effective way to influence them.  However I don’t know of any successful company today that invests solely in traditional media.

My take on this issue is that for big budgets a mixture of both types with integrated consistent themes and messaging prove to be very effective in reaching a broad, mass audience.  If you are in start -up mode, or trying to build new businesses in international markets, you can get incredible results from a small budget with focused online activities only.

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