Traditionalist Marketer? Go Digital or Go Home!

Location, location, location!

Be where your customers are!  

These are just some of the age-old principles of business and marketing that aren’t likely to go away in our lifetimes. But these concepts are shifting, and increasingly so. Why?  Because the customer is changing, first and foremost, compounded by technological advances in hardware, software and the way we communicate.

Generations Game

We’re amidst a generational change within the working population, and the communication tendencies, influence and buying power of those generations is enough to have us all sit up and pay attention. For example, at over 92M, Millennials now make up the largest segment of employed adults. And, they’re about to move into their prime spending years, so for all us B2B owners and marketers, we better understand where and how these digital natives buy and sell goods. The short answer is ONLINE. But with only 50% of B2B businesses having a mobile responsive website, just how far are we behind the times and what do we stand to gain by moving entirely into a digital age to promote our businesses?

Think you know Millennials? Take our quiz and find out!

Too many of us are trapped in old habits, a comfort zone of mediocrity, a tribute to yesteryear. Others among us will get pulled along by our customers’ needs, and reluctantly change our ways and gradually update our systems to partially embrace digital. Others won’t. But again, why?  Stubbornness?  Lack of knowledge? Fear of change? Sounds about right, huh? 

Smile, you digital dinosaurs!

Will you be the next Kodak? A company that invented the digital camera in 1975, but whose senior executives told engineers, “That’s cute, but don’t tell anyone about it.”  While Kodak’s oversight may be the most egregious of corporate blunders in the last 30-40 years, smaller scale mistakes dot the landscape of businesses from coast to coast. Holding on to a prehistoric approach will inevitably cause extinction, so pay attention to all the signals, and don’t “wait and see!”

Change is constant, businesses come and go. Some embrace change, and align with technology and customer buying habits, some do not. Some businesses feel traditional methods of reaching customers will endure and knocking on doors and dropping thousands of catalogs in people’s mailboxes every other month is still working. The advent of the VCR in the 80s was the beginning of the end of traditional advertising. Sure, some platforms have adapted and will live on in a new way, but this year marks the first year internet advertising has surpassed TV advertising in total spend (and we all know how much TV ads cost!). The trend lines are through the roof in the coming years for digital advertising spend. Move over radio and print, your successors just finished your lunch and are hungry for more!

So, given the facts and these trends, what tactics are you going to give up and which ones are you ready to learn and embrace?  As we chase and connect with today’s customer, here’s a run-down of the heroes of yesterday and their heirs to the throne in this new digital game.

Direct Mail vs. Email Marketing

Managing an old, cumbersome mailing list? Are hundreds of letters, brochures, and packets being returned-to-sender? Did they move? If they got it, have they looked at it? Ah, the woes of mail.

With email marketing, you can easily segment, track and deliver timely messages through email marketing, check email opens, click through rates and conversions on your website.

Newspaper vs. Social Media Ads

Remember those days of buying square inches and being sold on circulation numbers? How were we so gullible? With newspapers moving to online versions themselves, there’s no better testimony to move away from print newspaper ads.

Advertising on social media removes the guessing game. Target your customers based on demographics, interests, geo-location, and only pay for impressions (views) or interactions (comments, likes, and shares) that have meaning.

Yellow Pages vs. Local Listings

“Look up a plumber in the yellow pages; we have a leak.” Which course of action would you take?

  • Option #1: Pour over six pages of single line item listings. Call each listing individually with no idea who they are or the quality of their work.
  • Option #2: Hop on over to Google and search for plumbers, read free reviews, view images of past work and give them a call — all in a few clicks.

If you said anything but Option #2, you’re lying. Local listing sites are incredibly important to service businesses today. You can build your own Google My Business listing including directions, photos, and customer reviews. From Yelp to listing sites targeted by location or industry, you can add your business easily (and usually for free), and update the profile as often as you choose.

Click here for a full infographic report on these methods!

Catalogs vs. Websites

There’s a compelling argument that mailing catalogs to targeted prospects is a proven B2B customer acquisition strategy. We all still enjoy holding that catalog in our hands and browsing through the glossy literature, but while a catalog can be a great supplement, it isn’t a replacement for a dynamic website.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of a website is its functionality. The ability to constantly update web pages makes it a no-brainer for all businesses. Search functionality also enables users to pinpoint their product preferences and related items quickly, and share products with a few clicks.

Radio vs. Streaming Ads

Radio advertising is expected to remain relatively flat through 2020.    Nowadays, this space always seems to be dominated by car dealerships, law firms, and pizza shop commercials in a highly B2C targeted message.

Streaming advertising is literally fueling music revenue – a clear illustration that there is a strong audience. It’s also hyper-targeted and forces businesses to really hone in on who their ideal customer is – down to music/podcast/video preferences. It requires tweaking, but once you get it, you’re golden.

Do Millennials like streaming ads? Take our quiz & test your knowledge!

Coupons vs. Digital Offers

The Sunday morning ritual of coupon-clipping hit an all-time low in 2016. Gone are the heady days of coupon redemption in the recessionary 90s that drove a mild resurgence of coupons redeemed. 307 billion print coupons were distributed in 2016 and only 2.2 billion were redeemed.

Last year, load-to-card digital coupons were redeemed at a rate of 6.2%, an all-time high as digital’s popularity continues to rise.

Brochures vs. Online Videos

Nielsen studies on video consumption depict a compelling story. Not only are we choosing to watch time-shifted content more so that ever (think DVR), but we have access to more devices than ever before, with 7.5 devices in the average household today. So, we have choices of when to watch things, what to watch, and on a plentiful choice of devices.

While brochures offer some value in their ability to be left behind and read more widely, online videos’ ability to showcase intricate processes and product features concisely make them an obvious choice for B2B marketers.

Could a switch to online video have saved Blockbuster?

Cold Calling vs. Social Selling

With only 2% of cold-calls leading to a meeting and less than 1% ever leading to a sale, it’s no surprise that ‘Cold Calling’ has the bad rap these days. Cold-calling is both time consuming, frustrating for sales reps and costly, over 60% more costly than inbound marketing.

Social Selling gives a salesperson an ability to both connect and showcase content and expertise without an invasive selling approach so that customers can engage with a business on their own terms (and when they’re most likely to convert).

Millennials prefer social selling – test your knowledge here!

Guesswork vs. Deep Analytics

Before big data and analytics, we applied a lot of guesswork and “gut instinct’ to business decisions. Access to big data and analytics is not a new concept. Enterprise businesses have been using data for decision making for decades. Automation has brought it to the masses and even a simple, free program like Google Analytics can make a world of difference when making sound business decisions.

Understanding how people find you, what they’re interested in, how they are engaging and initially converting, provide great insight before making that first call to a prospect.

To be effective, the numbers need to have value and often that means interpretation for executives. The analytics available now make it simpler than ever to pull out the key drivers to help them grab the true value in 30 seconds or less.

SLIDESHOW: Five brands that failed to adapt

DVRs or Disco Balls

Digital is here and it’s not going away.  The fact is, digital is an inevitable, inescapable business shift. If you’re holding on to the old-school ways and avoiding change, you might as well be using a crystal ball to forecast your business’ future.

As the business landscape continues to evolve, the customer is demanding virtual access to your brand’s products and services. So you should likewise value digital technologies as a way to extend and individualize your services far beyond the brick and mortar store.

Video truly did kill the radio star. You may be old enough to remember, but you’re not too old to do something about it!

A lot has changed for marketers in the last 40 years. Click the image below to see which mediums come out on top.