I recently read a social media newsletter that implied social media was a failure for traditional marketing methods. I suspect lots of traditionalists have just not realised that social media is not meant to be used instead of traditional marketing methods, but in addition to the old tried and tested methods.
Whatever your decision and ideas surrounding social media, the one sure thing is that people are going to keep on talking to each other. It might not be Twitter or Facebook going forward but it will be something that they can interact with. Humans are a social bunch as a rule and we are going to keep on looking for ways to be in touch with each other.
So – has social media destroyed traditional marketing?
I tend to look at this from a simple perspective. Newspapers, mail campaigns, TV adverts and traditional adverts on the side of buildings may still go on, but do they happen as much as they used to? Can you afford to do it as much as you used to?
I priced an advert for a Client on Yell recently, and was surprised that they have dramatically increased the amount of categories you need to be listed in to be sure of being found. Each category, of course, incurs a pretty hefty charge in comparison to the last time I priced entry to their database. The Client decided against paying for an advert. It would cost thousands of pounds to be in any position that he thought would be beneficial for his business, and he simply went for a free listing and decided those thousands would be better spent elsewhere. Whether he was right or wrong in that decision is on his shoulders, but it does get me thinking.
When was the last time you saw a small business advertising on a huge billboard? I can’t remember seeing many billboards going around recently, and if I have, I must have paid them scant attention. I see billboards as an advert with a nice picture, but they aren’t telling me if the products or services that they are trying to sell are any good.
That is the crux of advertising now, isn’t it? The product or service has to have the recommendation factor, and not just by an anonymous pretty faced actor.
Level Playing Field
Small businesses can now compete with the big boys by using their marketing budgets wisely. It doesn’t cost a fortune to build a website any more. Finding customers is easier with social media, and if you target the right audience, you can have the recommendation factor from your loyal customers who you keep in touch with regularly online. That has to be much more cost-effective than random leaflet campaigns which small businesses with small budgets used to be restricted to.
Who reads all their newspapers and magazines in paper format anymore? I know that I rarely do. Most of my news is gained through the Internet, Twitter and my iPad. Have you seen how cheap it is to advertise online in comparison to in printed media? Look for yourself and decide which would be the most cost-effective for you.
Online adverts are massively diverse and if you decide to go for pay by click, or set your budget up front, then you really can keep your costs down to a minimum. Direct mail campaigns are still effective, but less so than in the past. Building your list is still important so that you can keep in touch with the people who are really interested in your businesses. How convenient is it that the Internet makes it easier than ever to collect those email addresses from relevant people?
Moving out of the comfort zone.
Many traditionalists are scared to come out into the open with their marketing. How safe is their job when the multitudes of young and switched on Internet users decide to jump on the new technology to market businesses?
New media is not so easily measured as it covers the hazy aspects of advertising. Can anyone afford to ignore it? Yes, some can. Only you can decide if it is for your business, your blog, or your life, but if you don’t, some of your competitors will. New media is about being bold, taking a risk, and giving different aspects of it a good try.
There are measurables that can be used to gauge how successful a campaign is, and building an audience takes time, but ask yourself, where will traditional marketing roles be in 10 years if social media has reached is current heady heights in the space of the last 4?
Know your competition.
How do you operate? Do you cultivate your competitors, or do you try to smash them down at the first hurdle? Cultivation is to be admired. There are many successful partnerships where competitors can help each other to move forward. Bloggers do it all the time. They talk to each other, they share experiences, and they help boost each others profiles.
How do your competitors operate? If they are successful on social media, you really should be researching whether you should catch up with them. If they are not using social media, should you sit on your laurels, or take that extra little risk to see where it takes you?
Social Media V Traditional
My last argument would be that both social media and traditional methods are required, but the proportions of which are entirely up to the business or blog owner to research and decide. The only foolish things to do would be to completely ignore the fact that social media exists, or insist that traditional marketing methods are the ONLY methods that should be used.
Now where is my coffee?