With the advent of digital marketing, an entirely new range of opportunities emerged for businesses of all sizes to promote themselves, reaching out to prospects and connecting more meaningfully with existing customers. But does that mean traditional marketing is now useless?
Digital has certain advantages.
Compared to most traditional marketing options, digital offers:
- Lower cost.
- Broader reach.
- Better targeting ability.
On the other hand, it takes time and expertise to effectively bring into play the various forms of digital marketing. You can’t just create a website and sign up for assorted social media platforms, you have to work each channel and figure out how to make them work together. And certain types of traditional advertising are equally low cost, with targeting ability that enables you to pinpoint the right audience. Direct mail postcards are the most notable example.
Many traditional techniques have always been out of reach for smaller or very local businesses. Print ads in magazines and newspapers, broadcast ads on television, even radio ads in larger markets are all very expensive. And unless your marketing audience is very broad, these forms of advertising waste your money by promoting your business to people who don’t care. You’re paying for reach, but you aren’t reaching the people you need.
Other forms of traditional advertising have always had value for smaller businesses, and still do:
- Direct mail.
- In-person networking.
- Volunteering in the community.
- Trade shows, health fairs, etc.
The reality is that with digital marketing you can reach virtually anyone. But your audience wants you to reach out to them – as an individual person. They don’t want to feel like part of the pack. That’s why “old fashioned” postcards continue to generate great results for so many types of businesses – you can put your name and offer directly into your hottest prospects’ hands instead of waiting for them to find you via search.
Savvy marketers pick and choose.
You have to think and act strategically, if you expect to get the best results for the least cost. What’s best for you depends on your type of business, desired clientele, overall business goals and specific promotional goals. Because every business has multiple target audiences, there are some things you simply must have:
- A website is crucial, no matter what your business or what geographic area you serve. Especially businesses with no storefront need an “anchor” where people can find pertinent information and get their questions answered. Using your website for more advanced marketing — making reservations or scheduling appointments, for instance — saves business owners time and increases customer convenience.
- Creating content via a blog or downloadable tip sheets, e-books, etc. establishes greater rapport with prospects by building your reputation as knowledgeable and willing to share your knowledge.
- Local directory sites are crucial, because without a presence on Google+, etc. your business won’t show up in a local search. When searchers do find you, your profile on these sites tells them all the essentials about you, including your hours, directions and contact information.
- Review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. are also essential because they give you instant credibility with prospects who aren’t already familiar with you.
What works best in 2015?
Effective marketing has to do several things:
- Establish and build brand awareness.
- Attract new customers.
- Increase revenue by encouraging repeat business and upselling existing customers.
- Replace lost customers.
It’s foolish to bypass marketing techniques that work just because something new comes along. You need elements of both traditional and digital marketing to grow your business in today’s competitive environment. You have to learn the pros and cons of each option – for your business and budget – then create your own unique blend of tried-and-true + newest methods, using them together to get more from each one.