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Why we need to stop the bickering about Digital versus Traditional marketing

Why we need to stop the bickering about Digital versus Traditional marketing

As digital marketing continues to grow, we've seen far too much politics in the marketing landscape.

Big names in advertising agencies are proclaiming that digital marketers don't know what they're doing. Digital agencies and platforms are claiming that advertising and PR are dead.

These headlines keep popping up and frankly, they're unhelpful for businesses trying to get their marketing right and they aren't helping marketing professionals to be the best they can be. The reality is that digital and traditional need to work together to solve today's marketing problems.

The marketing problems of today are constantly changing and thus so are the solutions. Change is inevitable in today's digital world and it seems like every time you get across the newest technology, a new platform, new updates or a new trend pops up, making it difficult for business owners to keep up, let alone know what marketing decisions they should be making.

The issue with black and white arguments over digital versus traditional is that in general, their aim seems to be to generate controversy or 'win' the opinion of the marketing world, rather than helping us to improve. If you read past the blanket claims and bickering however, you can find some valuable lessons. One particular article by Samuel Scott of Tech Crunch was titled 'Everything the tech world says about marketing is wrong'. Whilst this statement is certainly bold, there are 3 key points he made that can help marketers (whether digital, traditional or both) to rethink how we operate on a day to day basis, and to reunite digital and traditional.

1. Question marketing trends and buzzwords

Today's ever-increasing plethora of blogs, theories and new technology means that marketers not only need to keep abreast of trends, but we need to do so with a critical eye. Filtering out the fluff from fact is vital to ensure that we don't just adopt new trends if they aren't actually of benefit to businesses.

2. Get back to basics when it comes to marketing decisions

Samuel Scott calls marketers to get back to marketing basics – look at the strategic foundations of SWOT analyses and the marketing mix – ultimately what message will reach your target audience in a meaningful way and what is the most appropriate channel through which to send that message?

3. Don't separate! Integrate new technology and traditional marketing

Yes, marketers do need to be abreast of the trends and technologies coming out, however even strictly digital campaigns need to consider the fundamentals of marketing in order to make decisions and formulate strategies. Yet traditional marketing channels can have a disadvantage compared to new digital channels. Use the advantages of digital to feed into your traditional activities (EDM statistics, Google Analytics, the ability to use targeted messaging through lead profiling) and use the traditional (Marketing 101, SWOT analysis, the four Ps, market analysis) to support your digital activities.

Don't let petty arguments arguments distract you to the point of hindering your marketing. Yes you should be on digital platforms if they're the appropriate channel for your message. Yes, if you haven't considered the marketing mix in your campaigns, you need to re-visit your decisions. There's no need for an all out war though.

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comments ( 5 )
  • Dara Lin
    Dara Lin
    19 Jul 2016

    Could there be a big difference between the two strategies? I really do agree with the third one point. By using both traditional and digital methods a business can appropriately balance all the ways it can interact with current and potential customers and can draw strengths from both areas. Digital marketing should not replace proven traditional forms of promotion. The online campaign must be integrated with the existing offline campaign. Thanks for this great article Mellissah.

  • Caitlyn Ong
    Caitlyn Ong
    10 Jun 2016

    This debate between the two marketing types has certainly increased its popularity throughout the digital age. I agree with all the points stated especially, the third one. If we look at marketing today, it is almost impossible to separate traditional and digital marketing.

    Traditional marketing knowledge is the fundamentals. With these fundamentals, we should be attentive of trends and keep up-to-date of our surroundings while being adaptive and flexible. Marketing relates very much to social, cultural and psychological factors. If we take Tesco Homeplus in South Korea as an example, having a virtual shop but in physical subway stations capturing subway users on a daily basis. Can we say this is purely digital marketing?

    In my opinion, the boundaries between digital and traditional marketing have surely blurred and in many ways merged to create better strategies.

  • Lacey Jones
    Lacey Jones
    30 Apr 2016

    I agree with the third point presented here; marketing must happen in digital platforms these days in order for it to be successful.

  • Johnathan Lau
    Johnathan Lau
    29 Apr 2016

    Coming into the Job market with a traditional marketing degree, I realised that it simply wasn't enough to keep up with the ever changing trends that is synonymous with marketing. Many employers were looking for digital marketer specialising in SEO this, SEM that. I determined that I had to update my marketing knowledge so i enrolled in several online courses. What I found was that while digital marketing was a growing field, much of it is based on traditional marketing models and concepts. As the article says, "Don't Separate! Integrate!". Why not? Why not take the best of both world and achieve the kind of results that no single marketing ideology can achieve?

  • Adrian
    28 Apr 2016

    This is an interesting blog post highlighting the interdependence between traditional marketing and digital marketing. As our society becomes increasingly embedded into a digital age it is important to stay grounded in traditional marketing techniques whilst at the same time not shy away from being digitally innovative.

    I personally believe as technology continues to develop there will be far greater and more exciting opportunities to create marketing solutions for business of all sizes and industries. Therefore as marketing consultants, the challenge is to step out of the comfort zone and explore new marketing concepts without throwing away existing processes. It is definitely exciting to see how technology will influence and shape the future of how businesses operate and market themselves in the years to come.