A colleague of mine recently published the bold prediction that traditional marketing was dying, if not dead already. Rather than responding directly to his blog, I have chosen to use this forum to point out some reasons why it may be around a little longer than he thinks.
As the resident “dinosaur” at 212 Media Studios, I have seen an immense amount of change in marketing over the past several decades. I’ve witnessed graphic design go from using type galleys and key line boards to a completely digital environment, so I know that change and innovation are inevitable. There is no argument that many traditional marketing channels have seen dramatic decreases. But this does not prove that the audiences for these have disappeared. In many cases, these venues have seen resurgence.
One example is digital media’s return to print—with the most visible case being Newsweek’s return to print less than a year after changing to an online-only format. They found that offering premium or expanded content in print form lets them reach a niche audience. They readily accept that a lower circulation will result. But with a higher subscription price, they don’t need a large readership to break even.
The advertising environment has also improved in print media. It often has fewer distractions than the increasingly cluttered online ad landscape, where one competes with social media, video, and other ads for reader attention. When combined with a targeted interest group, publication advertising can reach a focused audience that is unhindered by numerous competing voices.
We should not find it surprising that multi-channel marketing is still vital in a sensible, balanced strategy. The key is finding the best media to reach your buyer persona. “Know thy customer” will always be the best rule of thumb when it comes to deciding where your customers live. If you’re selling long boards to a youthful persona, the best media choice will not be the History Channel. More likely, it will be a mixture of event sponsorship, broadcast sports advertising, trade magazines, social media, and others.
Interested in more proof that traditional marketing is not dead? Just go to your mailbox or shake out the inserts from your newspaper. Count the number of advertising leaflets or direct mail items you receive. It is staggering to see everything from full-color clothing catalogs to simple dental office reminders, not to mention restaurant coupons.
Just like print, the broadcast and outdoor media will not disappear. They will simply innovate and more precisely target the audiences they reach. By doing so, they will stay relevant.