Arment Dietrich

Defining Marketing: Traditional, Online, and Digital

By: Arment Dietrich | August 3, 2010 | 

A few weeks ago, in the digital marketing community, we discussed whether or not traditional marketing was going to go away. Then became the reoccurring question of defining marketing and how traditional, online, and digital all fit together. I used to think of it as traditional and new. But now there is too much “new” to fit into one category.

What we decided is that marketing is the umbrella with three categories underneath.

Depending on who you ask, defining “marketing” can go in many directions. In our case, our ideas don’t agree with Wikipedia, but maybe Wiki needs some updating. They say that online should be a subcategory of digital.

What do you think?

  • This is a good exercise to get us thinking, Molli! I personally believe it’s best not to separate them into categories at all.

    The important thing to remember when talking about “digital marketing” is that it’s still “marketing.” The tools might be different, but the principles are the same.

    If we get to caught up in semantics, we’re bound to lose site of the bigger picture, which is how do we reach our target audience where they are with the type of message they’ll be receptive to.

    If that happens to be online, then we should be online. If it happens to be offline, we should be offline. In most cases, it will be a mixture of both.

    • The purpose of this exercise was not to look at a problem and create solutions, but to explore the different types of marketing opportunities out there. I agree with you that we can’t lose site of the bigger picture and when faced with a client we would never look at each one as seporate ideas, but it is imperative as the world keeps changing that we take a step back and take a look at what even today’s top universities are teaching.

  • Bob Reed

    I agree Daniel. But I do think it is essential to have a “definition of terms” at a basic level to get everyone on the same page. Also, if this is supposed to look at the different buckets under digital marketing, why traditional marketing approaches included, yet advertising is omitted? Just curious?

    • Thanks, Bob. Advertising should most definitely go under traditional marketing.

      Anyone have anything else to add?

  • Molli, you and I could do a fab double-dutch as I’m working on a very similar project.

    The most important piece in Marketing discussions is to flag right away if it’s a B2B or B2C conversation because they’re such different discussions.

    As B2B Marketing continues to morph, I’m here to tell ya that in many, many sub-sections of B2B, traditional marketing is absolutely going away. As it should.

    Respectfully disagreeing with the eloquent Daniel (I’m sure it’ll be just this once), I don’t see this as semantics. Unfortunately for all of us, when we say *Marketing* the agency & client-side folks immediately think Traditional Marketing. So for the purposes of clarity, it’s important to be more specific about our points.

    Bravo to Daniel for keeping us pointed on the bigger picture – keep waving that flag, man. Too many folks in the marketing space can’t stop focusing on the tactics they’re producing to remind themselves of the strategic direction.

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  • I’m definitely against separating into categories. Besides, online IS mobile and computers these days. The iPhone in my pocket is basically a computer.

    Besides, the term digital is misleading because it comes under online.

    How about: Online Marketing with Mixed Media ? This would include text, social, mobile and digital.

    • Hey, Jon. Great discussion fodder re online/digital.

      I could be wrong, but I don’t think Molli is separating. Rather, sub-dividing or dissecting for analysis purposes. She still has Marketing as its own category (“umbrella”), but is looking at its piece-parts to see what still is or is not valid.

      I couldn’t standing dissection in school, but LOVE it here!

      • Maureen is right, this is an educational exercise to reevaluate the emerging tools that we have access to. I love your term mixed media, but also feel that is too broad for these purposes. What does that mean in this case? To me that sounds like everything not traditional. But here we tried to move away from the two categories of traditional and new.

        Lucky you for having an iPhone, but when I think mobile marketing, I think texting campaigns. Even though you might check Facebook and email on your phone, I still put that under Internet.

        What other marketing campaigns do you embark on?

  • I know that I’ve lost this battle – but I really think we would all do ourselves a lot of good if we used the words advertising & promotion in this discussion rather than marketing. Marketing is EVERYTHING you do. It begins with the very conception of the product or service you are going to offer.

    The variety of tactics that are used will vary depending upon the conditions, the times and the strategies. The danger of such sub-categories is that we easily fall into turning tactics into strategies – “Our digital strategy is…”

    I think we’d be far better off categorizing our tactics based upon the results we desire. I realize this isn’t how agencies and CMOs are defining things, but if their categorizations worked companies wouldn’t have the problems growing that they have.

    • I agree with you Doug, and consider advertising added under traditional but I think promotion is the marketing umbrella. All four marketing “P”s are the umbrella.

      Like the discussion I had with Dan in an earlier comment, when faced with a client, issue, or campaign we should look at the bigger picture and figure out what solutions can get us the end result. But for education purposes, it is important to divide up these categories for better understanding of what can be done with the changing mixed media as Jon put it.

    • I thought about what you said and I want to highlight that, marketing is everything you do.

  • What a fantastic conversation happening here! There are a few things I’d add, but I don’t want to disrupt the conversation so I leave you with just one thought…many, MANY clients come to us and say, “We want your help with social media.” Our question is always, “Why?” To illustrate Maureen’s point, the conversation is different based on what your business does and who your customer is. Molli’s graphic allows us to show clients what is involved in everything that we do…and social media isn’t always the right answer. It’s an overall look at all things marketing and finding the right tools to help that company grow their revenue and, in turn, their profitability.

  • This IS a great conversation! Molly, I like your graph, it is a format that demonstrates/educates the client about what options/tools there are under the heading “marketing.” To that end, assessing what each individual client needs is all part of what makes us the professionals right? Then we are more prepared to make specific recommendations for their individual needs. Thanks for sharing Molly and loved all the conversation. 😉