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Key Points About Integrating Traditional and New Mediums

By: Guest | March 13, 2012 | 
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Today’s guest post is written by Michael Schechter.

Note – This post was inspired a while back by this post from John Falchetto and our ensuing conversation in the comments.

A while back, I was called out on this very site.

Shown for who I really am.

A truth I had long tried to hide was brought to light. Worse yet, this public unmasking was perpetrated by a friend (et tu, Gini).

This embarrassing truth: I am not a digital native, but an employee of a traditional company, selling a traditional product, through traditional channels (oh the shame).

Now, I’m almost certain you are getting ready to stop reading this post, I mean, what could I possibly know about digital?

We don’t have millions of followers and our customers aren’t losing any sleep over our next post. But bear with me for a second, we may find that Gini’s betrayal may have a tangible benefit to both those within and those beyond the bubble.

Some brands have been forged in the digital fire while others have had to (or eventually will have to) jump into it. The biggest problem I see here is we are trying to treat these two entities as one.

These are two very different situations and need to be treated as such. Those outside the bubble, who did not build their business in these channels are interested in what digital has to offer, but they don’t always need it just yet. It’s not that there isn’t a juicy opportunity, but balancing multiple channels (especially a mix of traditional and digital ones) is no easy feat.

We often try to show traditional brands the success digital brands have experienced. It is alluring, but it isn’t always relevant. Rather than enticing prospects with purely digital examples like Zappos or even those who have long had digital efforts like Levis, you need to understand a few key points:

  • With, not instead – Since many working in digital are true natives, they focus on what they know; selling and promoting in digital channels. Businesses are not going to want to abandon what they know and what is still working. The digital natives have to learn what they do and integrate what they know might work alongside their existing viable (if not flourishing) practices.
  • It’s just not as important- I want to be very clear here, it’s not that digital opportunities do not have the same potential as these brands’ existing channels. But they don’t have the same potential today. Companies are not looking to burn the ships and abandon their current revenue streams in hope of online riches. Many of these companies and these business owners have made a hell of a living working a very specific way and for now, while it is still working, that is likely to remain their priority.
  • Change takes time – It is going to take time and care to weave digital into the fabric of traditional companies. It is going to take time for their brand partners to see online opportunities as anything but a threat. Digital marketers have to teach these brands that digital is an investment in their future rather than an imperative of their present. It takes time to learn these channels and they cannot simply jump in when they inevitably feel the time is right. Show them digital is where the puck is heading, but remember, people still walk into stores to buy things (who knew!).

We often talk about listening at the point of need, but when it comes to selling the traditional company on the digital, we are selling want. Any entrepreneur worth his salt is curious about digital. He cares about the future of his business and knows the web will play a role. You have to tap into this desire. You have to help these businesses to see their future more clearly, but you also need to be realistic about where they are now.

This hits on the biggest mistake I see from those who try to sell me on digital services and products: What they are offering is critical right now, rather than an investment in what is likely next.

I may be an outsider, but I want in. I want the digital channels to inevitably become as important to my business as the traditional ones, but it is going to take time, thought, and work (and no, I don’t want to hear how your product or service can get me there faster… were you even listening?!?).

It isn’t easy to turn around the Titanic, but then again, thanks to the movie, I know what happens if you don’t…

Michael Schechter is the digital marketing director for Honora Pearls, a company specializing in freshwater pearl jewelry. He writes about all things digital over at his blog and you can follow him on Twitter @mschechter.

38 comments
susie_parker
susie_parker

When I'm speaking to anyone about social media and digital marketing, I ask why they want/need to be there. Sometimes they stare at me blankly as if to say, "You're the strategist, aren't you supposed to tell me I *need* to be there?" I say no. My number one mantra is "be where your customers are." You can always coax new customers but we all know the cost of acquisition. Instead of abandoning traditional media, the longevity of both social and print/TV/radio etc is based in integration. This is the future. They need to work together. Great post. Will share. 

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

 @MSchechter As someone who comes from SMB, I love this. Many in social media have a hard time coming to grips with how unessential it can be in certain industries and to specific businesses. It's importance is highly contextual and what many consider to be a game changing marketing and communication channel is still nothing more than a sideshow for many businesses. As you point out, this will change over time, but most SMB owners live in a fairly resource-triaged present, even when planning for the future.

Craig McBreen
Craig McBreen

Hey Michael,

 

I love what Jay Baer has to say about future marketing and how companies can make it work … if I can use his “Youtility" line ;) and the fact that you really have to plan long-term and find how to become really, really useful so your image remains fresh in the propect's old noggin. I guess the creative part is figuring out how to become That useful and figuring out a way to market that as a service. 

 

I want to bottle that wisdom and start selling it to hungry clients. Or start weaving it in. ;) That Jay is a real wise guy, so I'll just leave it up to Marketing Experts.

 

Bravo, Gini for calling this guy out. ;)

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

Well Gini is obviously destructive to her 'friends...' she knew she was making me less productive and pulled me over here anyway, and of course I had to read it.

 

Seriously, when @dannybrown  wrote his You Don’t Always Need 100 Million Dollars or 100 Years for Traditional Advertising to Work (  http://dannybrown.me/2012/03/05/social-media-traditional-advertising/ )  last week it really struck a chord - too many marketers are SO focused on New Media and the gold at the end of the rainbow that there is evident disdain for Traditional advertising, even when there is evidence that it works for specific client.  It will be interesting to watch you move that ship Michael. 

MSchechter
MSchechter

@ginidietrich Man, no one is jumping in on this one. Could be my first @SpinSucks dud...

MSchechter
MSchechter

@jasonkonopinski Every now and again. I like the far more respectable title @lisagerber gave it. The Boy Outside The Bubble was vague :)

C_Pappas
C_Pappas

 @susie_parker Totally agree here! I see companies all the time that say they want to 'do' digital marketing and social media but if the customer is not there, then why would they be? There has to be a blend. Being a part of the mobile advertising currently, it's interesting to watch how brands are reacting. They feel like they should be reaching mobile consumers, but dont know why or how. It's reminding me a lot of the conversations we had a few years ago around social media. The big difference is that mobile is a line item on the budget and social just isn't. The thing we need to remember is that we just dont add new channels and forego the former, it's about easing things in and evolving with communication channels and keeping your message consistent.

MSchechter
MSchechter

 @susie_parker It is always nice to see the retention light bulb go off in peoples heads. They're often so busy worrying about new followers and follower counts that they often overlook the customers they could be nurturing. 

And couldn't agree more on integration. Speaking of I know someone who probably has a lot to add on that subject... paging @ginidietrich :)

Nic_Cartwright
Nic_Cartwright

 @susie_parker What Susie said..,...!!!

 

Social Media is fun, it is exciting, it makes you look cool (OK - maybe stretching that a bit far - but you get me eh!).  But listen to what your market wants / to what your customers want and communicate with them in whatever way will get the best results.  

MSchechter
MSchechter

 @adamtoporek And it's that lack of understanding that often keeps them from getting to the customer. Framing this as "where things are going" is always better than "we're here now and you're missing it". Maybe it doesn't create the same sense of urgency, but it will sure as hell make sense to a business owner who is still succeeding with traditional tactics. 

 

I couldn't hear you more on the resource crunching, welcome to my world, but that can be brought into the conversation in a very helpful way. Right now, most SMB are still doing a lot of guess work. The analytical side of digital is an often undervalued selling point. One thing the the resource restricted cannot afford is waste and traditional marketing does lead to a lot of it.

MSchechter
MSchechter

 @Craig McBreen Considering @jaybaer is informally known as Smarter Me (we look a lot a like, but I'd enjoy some of his brains), I am contractually obligated to agree. 

 

Figuring out where you're useful is essential, but it takes some time, some trial and some missteps. And don't encourage Gini.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown

 @AmyMccTobin @MSchechter My advice is always simple and concise - if it's the right fit for you, be where you need to be. That doesn't always equate to social (shock and horror!). 

 

Plenty of businesses are doing just fine without a big digital presence. The tunnel-visioned digital evangelists just need to realize their words aren't always gospel, just because they don't have real success to show except a growing Klout score.

 

Meh indeed, as @danieleagee articulates so well.

MSchechter
MSchechter

 @AmyMccTobin It's been interesting turning ship, but it's also so essential to know that what works for a primarily digital business won't always translate to a traditional without serious adaptation. And yes, Gini is a terrible influence.

SpinSucks
SpinSucks

@mschechter I've been a slacker too. I need to get over there. It's not a dud. :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@MSchechter Something is going on - people must have spring fever

danieleagee
danieleagee

@MSchechter @ginidietrich @spinsucks I got your back, don't worry.

MSchechter
MSchechter

 @Nic_Cartwright  @susie_parker Well said as well. There is no best practice or ideal solution. There are tools and options that need to be examined and tied to our goals.

Nic_Cartwright
Nic_Cartwright

 @DannyBrown Never heard that before - so well done on a new slang word for someone who prides themselves on having established a fair grasp of the slang that it out there,,,,,

 

Can't really work it out and let's just leave it there...

MSchechter
MSchechter

 @DannyBrown  @AmyMccTobin  @danieleagee I still think it's always wise to give it a good look and begin to experiment. It may be optional now, but for most businesses, some portion of this is a logical part of their future. It's always wise to look ahead (just so long as it doesn't become a distraction from what's working now).

MSchechter
MSchechter

@ginidietrich or worse yet, they've developed taste...

MSchechter
MSchechter

@danieleagee @ginidietrich @SpinSucks I don't think I've ever quite felt support like that before. So this is what friendship feels like...

Craig McBreen
Craig McBreen

 @MSchechter  @Nic_Cartwright  @DannyBrownIt's been months since Danny had said two words to anyone ... ;)

 

Actually I have a list of "Danny-isms" I'm compiling. I need ammunition for when I encounter the occasional mean person or a tailgating rural oaf.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@MSchechter That's not it. It is you, after all. They love that you antagonize me

MSchechter
MSchechter

@danieleagee Yes... that certainly falls in the "defense" pile... :)

danieleagee
danieleagee

@MSchechter In my defense, I haven't read it yet. Getting around to that now. Just hopped on the comment train first.

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