Online vs Offline Media. Why Not Both?

The Problem

One of the most enduring arguments I’ve heard against building an online presence is ‘My audience doesn’t use <insert flavor of platform here>. It’s the mantra of traditionalism, marketing rooted in familiar channels of television and radio, and sitting somewhere in-between the Selling and Marketing orientations. It’s unsurprising, but no less disconcerting. Change, especially in the local market, is much like a sleeping dragon hoarding their gold. If there’s a cost attached to it, it’s best to leave the beast to his dreams (unless someone else makes the jump first).

On the other side, digital purists are just as adamant. I’ve listened to local agencies pitch businesses to invest unwarranted amounts of their marketing budget on social media. The pundits who build Facebook to seemingly unattainable heights and who discount traditional methods of marketing are concerning. It’s the previous problem in reverse – a desire to embrace the future without understanding how we initially got here. And while the change is welcome, this disjointed view of marketing erases that much needed holistic opportunity.

It’s All About the Journey

A customer’s journey from awareness to conversion is usually not the result of one marketing channel. It’s exposure to multiple touch-points over a period of time, depending on where the customer is in their buying journey. And this brings me to the middle-ground of this #teamonline and #team offline debate – why not both?

Marketing has evolved. We’ve gone from simple demand and supply to complex economies where the consumer has more say than ever before. However, the fundamentals of marketing are inherently the same. A marketing strategy (where your business wants to go) and the subsequent marketing plan (how your business will get there), are built around the essential marketing mix. You don’t execute your strategy based on what’s hip in the market. You execute based on what your business wants to achieve in the short and long term. More times than not, this will call for a combination of both online and offline activities.

Strategy vs Communication

Social media isn’t a strategy in the same way that television isn’t. These are mediums, communication tools that deliver messages in strategic ways. My colleague wrote a blog whose stark title says half of it – Facebook is not the internet. As for the other half, she wrote:

“One of my colleagues recommended my company to manage their client’s social media presence with this specific request, ‘We want to go on Facebook and Instagram.’ After meeting with them, it’s clear this B2B company required a brand overhaul with an agreed marketing strategy for both offline and online media. It was interesting to see their uncertainty when I asked the simple question, “…why do you want to go on these platforms?” I really can’t blame them, as the power of Facebook is in their numbers, however the lack of Marketing Strategy is surprisingly common. This has to change.”

Looking Forward

Our market is still learning, but I have to wonder if we’re too slow to understand the value of a well-versed strategy, and by extension how to leverage the channels at our disposal. Social media has done wonders to build community and conversation for one of my clients. On-the-ground customer interactions and discussions have provided one of a kind insight into buying behavior and product usage. Marrying both to build a seamless experience for the audience as they move between online and offline has given credence to the ROI. For local businesses looking for that edge, perhaps it’s time to go back to basics by giving consideration to a carefully crafted marketing strategy and marketing plan.

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