It’s the magic word of the business world: marketing. But with the magic comes mystery, and a wide range of ways you can use it to make – or break – your business.
Whether you’re a billion dollar corporation or a small startup, experiencing rapid growth or stuck in a rut, marketing is an essential part of setting your business up for success.
But marketing isn’t always easy – especially if you’re working with a tight budget and need to make every campaign count. Should you jump onto the latest trends to stay ahead of the competition, or stick with tried and tested strategies instead of risking a flop?
Say hello to the battle of traditional versus digital marketing.
Where once upon a time it was a no-brainer for businesses to advertise in the phone book, nowadays it’s a much more personal, and difficult choice where to promote yourself.
70% of Americans don’t even open their phone books anymore, so it’s clear that times have moved on since traditional marketing ruled the roost.
Chances are, you already have a marketing strategy – but is it fueling the growth you want for your business? Is it a long-term campaign, or will you need a new approach next year?
By looking at the ins and outs of traditional and digital marketing, you can find the best methods to build your business and support scalability in the long-term.
Bye Bye Brochures?
We’ve all had fliers, menus, and more shoved through our front door, or into our hands in the street. These are examples of traditional marketing, which is basically marketing that doesn’t rely on the internet. Other examples include:
- TV adverts
- Radio adverts
Traditional marketing covers everything from printed publications, to fast food fliers, and TV adverts. It’s a very familiar style of marketing that consumers are met with every single day.
It may sound old-school, but there are some key advantages to using traditional marketing, which could see big benefits for your business.
Targets local audiences
If you’re a small business targeting a local audience, then traditional marketing can be the perfect way of connecting and engaging with your clients.
Not only will you gain publicity through slots on local radio shows or leaflets around town, you’ll also strengthen your brand image as a community focused, locally minded business.
Appeals to certain demographics
Whether it’s a leaflet they can hold on to and peruse at their own leisure, or a phone call with a real person, traditional methods suit an older demographic.
Sticks in the mind
The great thing about traditional marketing is it’s easy to remember, and even keep hold of! Professional business cards and helpful brochures you can stick to the fridge are all memorable and easy to revisit.
However, there are also downsides to traditional marketing. And unfortunately they rather outnumber the positives – especially for small businesses.
If you’ve ever stood on a street trying to hand out brochures, or been on the receiving end of a sales call at an inconvenient time, you’ll know how difficult it can be to engage people through these methods.
Traditional marketing obviously worked for a very long time, but recent trends have seen digital marketing taking big steps to overtake traditional methods like these. So what’s traditional marketing not so good at?
It’s pretty pricey to put together traditional marketing campaigns, making it difficult for small companies to compete with bigger brands.
Keeping It Green
With a hyper-awareness around plastic, waste, and sustainability, it’s sensible to avoid being careless with your marketing materials.
Listen to your audience. Will they be put off by a plastic-wrapped magazine, or be likely to choose a business based on its sustainable values?
Difficult to Measure
When you launch a marketing campaign, ideally you want to track and measure the results. You need to see what went well, and maybe what didn’t succeed in the way you had hoped. This is extremely difficult with traditional marketing!
This is a problem if you’re trying to kickstart business growth. You need to know exactly which campaigns work, so that you’re not throwing money in the wrong direction.
Should You Use It?
Traditional marketing isn’t for everyone, but it does have its strengths. It’s best for businesses with:
- A large budget
- An established brand
- An older client base
- Informational content
- Local clients
You should use traditional marketing to strengthen your existing brand and reputation with your audience, rather than trying to use it to establish your business.
The truth is, people are engaging more and more via the internet, with most flyers going straight in the recycling. Say hello to the world of digital marketing, which is making moves to overthrow the old-fashioned notion of traditional methods…
Dig the Digital
Digital marketing opens up new ways of connecting with audiences, as well as building up your brand identity through seamless web design. This marketing uses digital platforms to promote businesses – whether that’s through YouTube adverts, building a website, or sharing on social media.
This small business website was built using a website builder, which is a cheap and effective way of creating a professional site for your brand.
Digital marketing makes sense for small businesses. It has tons of benefits, including:
You can easily compete with bigger competitors without breaking the bank. Even building a website doesn’t have to cost the earth if you do it yourself. And a lot of online marketing methods are free.
It’s easy to measure
Analytics is your best friend – you can track, analyze, and monitor your campaign’s progress on multiple levels. Google Analytics is a popular, powerful online tool to help push your site’s growth. It gives you valuable insight into many different areas, including:
- How many people visit your site
- What devices people use
- How long visitors spend on your pages
- Which social media sites provide the most traffic
- Which actions people take on your site
- How many people leave, or “bounce” off your site
You can see why data such as this is essential for measuring the success of your digital marketing campaigns. If you build a website to act as an online business card, for example, you can see how many people view it, or click on links you’ve included.
You can even use tools like Hotjar or Crazy Egg to track how people interact with your sites.
You don’t have to be a tech pro or have a massive budget to make the most of these tools, either – they’re easy to use and have plenty of in-depth guides to help you get started.
Unlike traditional marketing, digital is convenient and unobtrusive, especially if you follow design best practice. People can scan your site on their way to work, in the palm of their hand, or in front of the TV.
You can be imaginative with your website or your adverts – some marketing campaigns even go viral!
It’s ideal for developing your brand
When you’re building your brand and starting out with a small business, embracing the digital is absolutely essential. Almost two-thirds of small businesses had a website at the start of 2018.
That’s enough to show how important it is, but also leaves enough room for you to make your mark!
When people find a new business or are looking for a service, the first thing they usually do is Google it. In fact, 85% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses.
Having an online presence boosts your chances of gaining those people as clients and fueling growth. It does wonders for your reputation, can drive conversions, and build trust in your brand.
Online marketing campaigns should both raise awareness of your brand, as well as cement your brand values at the heart of its messaging.
It gets tons of interaction
People can share, like, and save your content, leave comments, and follow you on social media. And you can interact right back! 89% of consumers read local businesses’ responses to customer reviews, showing the importance of interaction between business and client.
In the UK, Brightstar Financial was voted as the best small business to work for in 2019 by the Sunday Times.
Digital marketing gives you flexible, low-cost ways to reach a wide – even international – audience with your marketing campaigns.
So what are its drawbacks? Why not just use it for all your marketing needs?
Digital marketing needs upkeep – you need to stay on top of regular social posts, new videos, or an updated website, with lots of interaction with followers, comments, and queries.
The best ways to do this will differ dramatically from business to business, but there are a few key tips all small businesses will benefit from!
- It’s important to post consistent, quality content on social media. It should be frequent – on average once a day is the recommended amount – but don’t bite off more than you can chew.
- Never post meaningless content on your website or social channels – always keep in mind what you want your followers to take away.
- Automate where you can! There’s no shame in using one of the many automation tools (think Hootsuite), which let you easily schedule posts to share later, and generally make your workload lighter.
While it’s a more even playing field on the digital space, that means it can be harder to stand out from the crowd. With banner blindness making adverts practically invisible to internet users, and social media full of promotions already, you need some clever marketing to get noticed.
Admittedly, creating “clever marketing” campaigns is easier said than done, but there are ways to jazz up old ideas. Think videos, contests, sponsorships, customer rewards, and more.
Even email campaigns can be massively rewarding if you focus on design, unique topics, appealing opt-ins, and quality content.
Should You Use It?
Digital marketing is a smart choice for most small businesses. It’s best for businesses with:
- A small budget
- A drive for growth
- A new brand
- A young or professional client base
You should use digital marketing to develop your brand and grow new relationships with your audience. It’s the best way to take on bigger competitors while keeping costs low.
Don’t Be a Campaign in the Neck
Whether you choose traditional or digital marketing, people are extremely sensitive to “junk mail”. People ignore things they think are junk, whether it’s adverts down the right hand side of a website, or leaflets inside their daily newspaper.
To grab and hold attention, you need to create engaging, valuable, and quality campaigns.
- Target your audience: Who are you hoping to reach with your marketing? What do you want them to take away from the campaign? Choose the best methods to engage your target audience, and make it easy for them to take action!
- Cement your USP at the heart of your messaging: Why should people choose you? What are the core values of your business? What makes you different? Yes, these are basic questions, but it can be easy to lose sight of them when trying to stand out.
- Combine strategies where you can: By using both types of marketing, you can widen your reach, and focus on different targets. Grow your following through digital campaigns, and then strengthen those relationships through traditional marketing. This helps to make your budget go further and supports growth.
You can see how traditional and digital marketing can work seamlessly together in examples such as LinkedIn’s #InItTogether campaign.
This was a 12-week campaign which integrated television, Twitter, video, radio, podcasts, social media, and more with the goal of revolutionizing its “white-collar” reputation.
LinkedIn used this marketing campaign to bring a new value into the heart of its brand and reach out to a wider group of people. By integrating traditional and digital marketing, it not only maximized its impact, but cemented its message into its brand identity as well.
Ready to Plan Your “No Junk Mail” Campaign?
This level of campaign may be out of reach for most small business budgets. But, draw inspiration from it -it’s great example for that. Seeing how the big players out there run their marketing is a great place to kickstart your own killer campaign efforts, and set you on track for success.
You can choose the methods that suit your budget, your brand, and your customer base – but whatever you do, make sure you create marketing magic, rather than junk mail!
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