Traditional vs. Social Marketing. Is One Better?

January 13, 2015 in Influencer Marketing

Let me start this by saying this blog is in no way meant to be an insult to traditional marketing nor am I saying that social marketing is better. In fact, if any traditional marketing folk are reading this I would be ecstatic to have your feedback.

It seems the more I talk with others in the social marketing world, whether that’s influencer marking, evangelism, advocacy, digital marketing, etc., I often hear the same thing; “We would like to do more, we just don’t have the budget”. Why is that? Why are companies still so afraid to give money to those teams? When most are asked this question they give the response, “I just don’t know where my money is going or what I am getting out of it”. To answer the first part of that statement I would say; you should always know where your money is going and if they didn’t explain it clearly then you shouldn’t have given them the money. The second part of the statement, “what am I getting out of it”, is a little harder to answer. I will try to answer, but with a question of my own.

Imagine with me that you are the executive of a marketing team for “brand a”. Your job is to get your product in front of as many people as possible, to make your product a topic of conversation, and of course you want to impact the bottom line. You’ve been given a pretty generous budget, now what do you do with it.

In this scenario why are executives more willing to give money to the teams that say they want to use more traditional marketing strategies? They will take the money and create print ads, billboards, newsletters, TV commercials, direct mail campaigns, etc. All in an effort to bring attention to a product. Now these aren’t bad ideas, they have worked for many years and still continue to work. But what happens when some goes to that same executive and says, “I would like to have X amount to spend on creating content (YouTube video, articles, blogs, etc.), going to an event, bringing people in for an event, Twitter/Facebook contest, Blogger/Influencer outreach, hosting an event, etc. Most of the time when these ideas are brought to the table, you get the “what do I get in return” question.

Why isn’t that same question asked of the traditional methods? Can you really give a confident answer to how many people saw your print ad, your billboard on side of the road, or watched your TV commercial? You really can’t, but you can give an estimate on how many people should do those things based off of information you do know like how many people subscribe to the magazine, how many people travel through a specific area, or how many people tuned in at a specific time on a specific channel. However none of these numbers are concrete….and that’s just fine??? Be honest, when is that last time you purchased something based off of an ad? Do you even remember the last 5 ad’s you saw?

With link tracking, blog/page views, event registration, video/content views, mentions, likes, reach, etc. I can give you those same estimates. In some cases those numbers are more accurate because of what you can track. What are the last 5 blogs you have read; more importantly, what is the last item you purchased after reading a blog? For me it was a Synology NAS after reading posts by Chris Wahl and Jason Nash. While doing research on what my options were, blogs by these two gentlemen made the decision a lot easier once I knew what was possible with the product.

The fact is that most of the efforts in both traditional and social marketing do not have a direct cause/effect relation with profits. But they both provide awareness and that is the first step to making a sale! So why, why is it easier and more acceptable to give money to traditional marketing efforts rather than social marketing efforts, which in some cases are in person events? In a perfect word, wouldn’t these two strategies be used together? Why are we stuck in doing things the way they have always been done?