Balancing Acts: Digital vs. Traditional Media

I work with business executives seeking to strike the ideal balance between digital and traditional media. Finding the right mix is a high-stakes challenge that can mean the difference between marketing ROI and a waste of precious budget resources. The answers aren’t always clear, but there is a way to develop a marketing mix that yields real results.

A Strategic Approach

Recently I was asked about this topic for an article on As I explained,

Finding the right mix of print and digital is less about your business and more about your customers,” says Joellyn “Joellyn” Ferguson, a principal in consulting firm BrandSprout. “Think about who they are, how they buy, where they go.” Understanding those things will help you determine how to reach customers with a mix of print and digital that provides the greatest visibility in the right places.

Small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) in particular feel pressure to move online because everyone seems to be there. Rather than following the herd, I counsel my clients to take a strategic approach that fits their unique business model. This individualized approach usually involves a mix of online and offline marketing.

Fortunately, the digital vs. traditional decision is not an either/or proposition. Digital and traditional tools can be combined for greater impact than an all-or-nothing bet, and the cumulative effect can be dramatic.

“Look for the ability to create multiple impressions in a variety of venues to get the best ROI from your marketing programs, Ferguson suggests. Avoid wasting money on marketing programs that won’t reach your target customers by first doing research to ensure that any opportunity you are considering will actually help you connect, online or off.”

Find Your Mix
Some key questions to consider when deciding on the best media mix are:
Where are your customers? If they don’t use Facebook or Twitter, you don’t really need a presence there. Social media can be enticing, but it takes a lot of time and effort to do it right, so SMBs should be sure they’re committed before jumping into social programs. Likewise, if you’re going to advertise online, find the right sites to place your ads. Think beyond PPC to display ads, content marketing, and promotions on sites your customers visit regularly.
How can you get the best impact from your investments? The number of people you reach is not as important as reaching the right people. If fact, dealing with too many unqualified leads can be a problem for businesses with limited resources. Look for opportunities to connect with a more targeted group that will be receptive to your message. This might be done through direct mail or other offline programs (seminars, events, etc.) rather than online campaigns.
Can digital enhance your traditional marketing? If you already have strong traditional marketing programs such as a print newsletter, think about using digital to improve the ROI. Print articles could be redistributed as blog posts or shared as content on your website, for example. Moving some of your traditional marketing online might also reduce overall costs, improving your net marketing return.

Over time, putting it all together becomes second nature. With a little patience, you’ll learn what works for your business and what doesn’t. Keep your focus on the needs and desires of your customers, and you’ll enjoy the payoff from blending digital and traditional marketing.

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