Traditional Marketing – Still in the driver’s seat?

During my MBA in Marketing, my professors pushed 3 popular traditional marketing beliefs down my throat:

1. Marketing must reach as many people with as little cost.

2. Below the line marketing will only get you so far. Above the line (Radio/TV/Print/Outdoor) is what will sell your product

3. It doesn’t matter if your product is average – the packaging should be so attractive that the product will sell itself.

This was 2004, a good eleven years ago. Today, traditional marketing has completely transformed into something else altogether. The genesis to this transformation:  Digital Marketing. Welcome to a new era.

The advent of Digital Media and Digital Marketing has completely changed the face of how products and services are marketed and sold. Let’s re-visit those beliefs to understand what happened:

1. Traditional Marketing must reach as many people with as little cost.

Earlier reach was limited to availability of the media (e.g. number of hoardings in an area and how many were free at the time of your campaign). Lesser the availability (e.g. no. of ads you could put in a newspaper or no. of radio spots you could play in a day) meant higher cost to the advertiser with less reach. If you did get reach (e.g. ads shown during a Superbowl match) the cost to advertise was exorbitant.

The digital age is different. Advertisers are no longer bothered about reaching the masses. It’s now about reaching relevant classes. The internet allows an advertiser to reach the entire planet but remember, the entire planet is not bothered about his/her product/service. Traditional marketing is out and contextual Marketing is in. We now advertise to those who are actively looking for our products/services. Placing an ad in Google to appear when people are searching for concierge services has  higher probability of being clicked and converted as compared to a large hoarding on a highway which millions of passersby cross, may notice but may also conveniently ignore since they don’t need/aren’t looking for such a product/service. Therefore, an advertiser today, is willing to pay a higher Cost-Per-Click if his chances of conversion are higher.

2. Below the line marketing will only get you so far. Above the line (Radio/TV/Print/Outdoor) is what will sell your product

There a time when you could say that you had arrived when your marketing campaigns had elements of TV/radio/print or outdoor. But how impactful are these media today?

  • TV: When you don’t want to see an ad, you switch channels (zapping). If the show is pre-recorded, you skip or fast-forward (zipping) to the end of the ad.
  • Radio: Radio popularity is restricted to certain pockets and certain times (e.g. when your are travelling) How many people listen to the radio at home? Mobile phones are now being made without radio. This should be analysed.
  • Print: Physical newspapers and magazines are dying a slow death, giving way to electronic print. Let’s be honest. Unless it’s a full page ad (which costs a bomb) in the newspaper, no one notices. Plus there is no control over who sees your ad (e.g.you have put out a full page kid’s clothing ad but teenagers are reading the newspaper), he/she may/may not be your target group.
  • Outdoor: Advertisers spend millions though most of us just drive past outdoor hoardings. One in a hundred people might actually be interested. If you are the target audience and  spend the whole in office or at home, when will you actually see that hoarding?

Today, the only media which is consumed over 50 times a day, that too willingly is through your mobile phone. It’s the one device which you travel with,  sleep with and even take to the bathroom (sometimes). Optimized ads and content for mobile phones is the only media which allows clear access to the right audience, at the right place and at the right time. This is the future of marketing. It is seconded only by laptops and tablets, where people are actively searching for answers. This is where your ads would not only be visible but appreciated as well.

3. It doesn’t matter if your product is average – the packaging should be so attractive that the product will sell itself.

By packaging I speak about product descriptions/product information/the marketing pitch. If your content about the product is not authentic, genuine and solution providing, it stands to be rejected outright.

In contrast, in the digital marketing age – it’s not only content but context that counts. Content must be relevant for it to be consumed. If your TG is unaware of what the problem itself is (e.g. Is it cockroaches or ants who are spoiling food kept in the kitchen), hard-selling your product (cockroach killing spray) is useless, he/she won’t know that your solution is relevant or not. If the problem is identified, people search for multiple solutions first (e.g. ways to kill a cockroach). Good brands publish content to educate first, only when a particular solution to a problem is selected and it happens to be what you are offering, should your product then be marketed. (e.g. User wants to kill the cockroach by spraying it – you offer this particular solution)

Thus, traditional marketing is slowly taking a backseat and giving way to new age media. The digital era has begun and it is for all marketers to make full use the opportunity to conduct non-intrusive, pull-based marketing with the relevant target audience.

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