Being a marketer since 1995 (shhh… don’t tell anyone) gives you an unique perspective on the evolution of modern marketing. It was during these 17 years that one of the most transforming technologies of our lifetime found mainstream acceptance and began to revolutionize every aspect of our lives. No its not the new iPhone or the Slanket®…
I speak of the Internet.
Before the Internet; lawn care and landscaping companies had no alternative but to rely solely on offline marketing: print mailers, door hangers, newsletters, yellow pages, newspapers, etc… With the Internet came a whole new breed of marketing options: Email, Pay-Per-Click, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Local Search and now Social Media each rising and falling in popularity after having their turn at the top.
During this ongoing marketing evolution many companies have abandoned offline advertising in favor of an endless succession of the newest or most popular online marketing flavor of the day. Choosing marketing strategies as they would clothes. If it is fashionable this season then that is the approach they are going to try. Spam Emails? Sure why not. Social Media? Yes, Please. SEO, I’ll have seconds.
Is this really the best way to choose a marketing plan? Should you be trying to market your business like a Fortune 500? Is spending 4 hours a week on Pinterest going to get you any new customers? Isn’t offline marketing dead?!?!?
Well lets ask Google, who according to the Wall Street Journal spent $213 million on traditional offline marketing in 2011.
Yes, Google, undisputed heavyweight king of online marketing, relies on those forgotten offline marketing strategies of yesteryear including direct mail and print advertising to market many of its own products. So I have to chuckle when I hear offline marketing doesn’t work or is dead like the Dodo.
In reality, it is still very much alive and if implemented correctly can be enormously effective.
At the end of the day; AdWords, direct mail, email, social media, print ads, etc. all have pros and cons and are ultimately just tools to accomplish a goal.
It is the marketer’s job to choose the best tool to achieve this goal.
Most of the time, that goal may be just to get as many qualified leads as possible. In that case starting with one or more online strategies such as SEO, PPC or Local Search and then adding highly targeted print flyers might create the widest possible net for capturing leads.
At other times, that goal may be to get more referrals from existing clients or to increase their average lifetime value . In that case, a multi-part email campaign with frequent social media “touches” combined with a very targeted print campaign can yield the best results; upselling your clients into buying new or more profitable services or nudging them into becoming active referrers.
Ultimately, your campaign will succeed or fail based on whether or not you choose the right strategy and how well you executed it.
So when clients tell me they have stopped all offline marketing and now only rely on Google AdWords, my immediate reaction is that they need a better toolbox.
Have a crystal clear goal in mind, then choose the best marketing tool or combination of tools to achieve your goal. Not just the one with the most hype.
Too often we get caught up in what is fashionable, cool or new, instead of focusing on what really works the best.
And remember, avoid plaid this season. It never looks good on anyone.