Digital Marketing Works Best for Small Business Owners, Right?
What I need is a really cool website.
Online marketing is the only kind of marketing I want to do for my company.
Who needs salespeople when you have the web?
Who needs a call center when you have the web?
I hate actually interacting with someone face-to-face and I’m sure all of my customers hate it, too.
Isn’t everyone on the Internet now?
Digital marketing is always cheaper on a cost-per-account basis.
Everyone just throws out direct mail solicitations.
Outdoor media? You mean, like billboards and stuff? Wow, that’s really old-school, isn’t it?
Why would I bother offering sales training to my customer service employees and my other employees? That’s not their job.
Industry conventions seem like a massive waste of time and, plus, they’re a huge pain.
IF you talk to companies about sales and marketing, you’ll frequently hear comments and questions like this, because everyone’s dream these days is to have a virtual organization that does all its sales and marketing over the web, or on mobile phones, or whatever. You know; the kind of organization where you just click on keys, your advertisements go out, customers respond to your website through an online checkout, and you make millions of dollars with less than 10 employees, and very little overhead.
That’s the kind of marketing plan I want, companies will say.
Well, sure. I want to date Halle Berry, have my own island, and have Warren Buffet asking me for advice about investing, too. The chance of even one of the items in that scenario occurring for me is about the same as all of the pieces falling into place for the kind of company to happen. Yes, occasionally the planets line up and your idea that turns into your product that your company sells is both irresistible and is able to be sold over the internet in such large numbers that you then have articles in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times business section written about your firm.
But most of the time, the results are less lofty. The internet is merely one small part of all the moving parts that make up a typical successful company, and that’s not how most business comes in the door. Some small companies have less than a dozen employees, but large companies have hundreds, or thousands, of employees. Everyone in the company works hard, because they’re competing with other people at other companies that are working just as hard in the same segment, and that hard work eventually makes for a good living and a good return for the company’s shareholders. It’s not exciting and notable enough so that it’s newsworthy, but it’s a good result. That’s what usually happens.
The reason I’m noting this is because many companies, in their rush to embrace Web 2.0 technology, are now giving short shrift to perfectly good customer acquisition platforms that they’ve successfully used for years, things like a field sales force or radio advertising. Seduced by a younger, more attractive face, these businesses are abandoning their long-time partners for a tempestuous fling with digital marketing. They’re doing this even if that doesn’t make sense in terms of their revenue, profit and strategic goals.
Now, just to be clear, I would not advise any client to eschew a meaningful presence on the web. If you’re in business, your customers need to be able to find you on the web. Much of the work we do for clients is in the area of bolstering their presence on the web, whether that’s through SEO marketing, developing a better website for them, developing a blog component for their corporate site, etc. So we are strong cheerleaders for a healthy web presence.
No, what I’m saying here is that traditional marketing and sales may still be where your company’s bread will be buttered, and there is absolutely no reason to cut back or discard those customer acquisition platforms simply because they’re “not new”.
For many companies, those “old-fashioned” methods are still the most cost-effective, despite all the infrastructure needed, and the blocking and tackling needed to execute, and frankly, with a little tuning up and focused process-improvement work, those old-school platforms can be made even more attractive from a cost-acquisition ratio. Just as an example, television advertising still reaches more people in the U.S. every day than internet advertising does. That’s right, even in 2014.
Furthermore, there is absolutely no reason you cannot keep doing what is bringing you good business results currently, and, beef up your profile and capabilities on the internet at the same time. In other words, there isn’t any way to do too much marketing in too many places.
There is an optimum mix of traditional marketing and digital marketing, specific to your company’s needs and goals. Find that mix and your company will prosper. Because, despite what you read in the media about the latest company to set up a website, and 18 months later, launch a $6 billion IPO, most companies still need the combination of traditional marketing and digital marketing to thrive.