The future’s bright: the future’s digital. Well, that’s what many marketing executives would have us believe.
They argue that the future of advertising must by definition be a digital one. In fact, some would even go so far as to say that internet marketing and social media marketing are the only future, and that other more traditional areas of the marketing mix like PR and offline branding and promotion are now dead ducks. But is this really true? Is the case for the superiority of digital so clear cut? Have traditional advertising methods passed their sell-by date?
Digital advertising and internet marketing.
Digital advertising can undoubtedly be good for business and make a significant contribution to growth, but it can’t fix a business overnight or guarantee that growth. It’s the overall marketing strategy that determines the success or failure of any business. An important part of that marketing strategy has to be what we could be termed bread and butter advertising. These are proven strategies and don’t lose their appeal overnight. It’s all well and good sticking a link to Facebook on a business website or adding a Twitter icon at the bottom of the homepage, but if these sit in isolation and fail to amplify other areas of the business’ marketing mix, then they won’t help to stimulate growth.
Marketing budgets: how much should be allocated to digital?
What proportion of the marketing budget should be allocated to digital advertising? Well, it depends on the size of the business and the sector of the market in which the business trades. Some analysts have suggested around 15 percent, but putting strict figures on the amount of budget dedicated to digital could in some cases prove to be too prescriptive. Smaller businesses may be able to get away with spending more: larger ones may wish to allocate less. The crucial factor is that the digital advertising needs to be integrated into and work alongside the existing advertising strategy and to complement it.
Traditional advertising still has a role to play.
Traditional advertising still has a place in the digital age and it is still important. Its value lies in its ability to connect with new customers and audiences. Traditional advertising can help to generate leads and connect with the other sectors of the market that online marketing can never quite reach. Yes blogs and tweets have their place, but for a certain sector of the market these new-fangled advertising methods are anathema. Many business decision-makers don’t start their days by reading blogs and tweets; they rely instead on newspapers and business journals for their daily fix of news and industry information. Traditional advertising can reach these people: digital advertising probably won’t.
There can be little doubt that the media landscape is changing quickly, and that digital advertising is the future; however, there is still sufficient evidence to suggest that we haven’t quite reached that tipping point yet. Traditional media, PR and branding still plays a significant role in the day to day lives of ordinary business, and to ignore that by focusing exclusively on social media marketing could backfire. The smartest businesses are still using a mixture of old and new media to target as wide a range of customers as possible. Social media marketing is then used for engagement and to improve customer service.