Arment Dietrich

Marketing’s Media Prejudice Problem

By: Arment Dietrich | February 13, 2014 | 

Marketing's Media Prejudice ProblemBy Clay Morgan

Some years ago, I befriended a business leader while serving as publisher of a couple of newspapers in Texas.

He was an older gentleman who owned a successful retail chain that actually expanded during the height of the recession.

About 18 months ago, we were chatting on the phone, and he had a tremendous, curse-laden complaint about social media professionals.

Part of it was that nobody wears a suit, and he prematurely ended a couple of presentations where the social media expert showed up to pitch him for business in blue jeans.

His biggest concern was people weren’t listening to him.

He told me he could prove about 40 percent of his business came to him via print advertising, and another 40 percent came via television advertising.

He said he gave the social media firms this research in their information packets.

Then he dropped the two-part question.

“Why would they tell me to drop all print? And, when I ask them if I do that, are they going to pick up the $4.5 million in sales we’d lose, why do they look at me like I’m nuts?”

There’s Nothing Wrong with Telemarketing

Yes, I said it. But with a caveat.

Telemarketing is often viewed as the lowest rung of the marketing ladder, but it does actually have its uses. In the newspaper world, it is a very powerful tool, in terms of retention rates. There are other industries for whom telemarketing yields strong results.

They wouldn’t keep investing in it if it didn’t work. Telemarketing is a victim of a media prejudice.

Think about it.

On Facebook, I was taken to task after I wrote a blog post here that talked about how a street hawker got our attention while vacationing in New York. The problem the critic couldn’t address was the simple fact that the street hawker was effective.

And so is telemarketing, in certain scenarios, and for certain products and services.

The Right Tool for the Job

Here’s my approach to everything from social media to pay-per-click to print advertising, and anything in between. They are merely tools. For each job, there is a right tool, ok tools, and then there are the wrong tools.

A while back, I changed the faucet in our kitchen sink. It wasn’t terribly difficult, but there were a few challenges, not the least of which was reaching the bolt with my regular wrenches.

Sometime later at Home Depot, I saw what they call a basin wrench. I said a few things not appropriate for Spin Sucks, and thought “that sure would have been useful.”

That’s the thing. I changed the faucet with tools I had around the house. It worked fine, but were they the best tools for the job? Of course not.

Direct mail may work great, but is it better, more efficient or more cost effective than an email campaign? Or vice versa? These questions cannot be answered at this moment without more data.

But what we do know is direct mail and email marketing both work. What we have to do is determine which is the best tool.

Questions in Seek of Answers

You have to think about the goal of your marketing efforts.

  • Is it trying to build relationships?
  • Is it driving sales?
  • Reconnecting with former customers?

As I work on new business development, I’m struck by how many companies have no goals (and I’m not just talking marketing goals). You have to know what you are building before you can think about what tools you need.

Who is your audience? Where do they live and work? Do they go to church? Do they have little children, grown children, any children? What’s their income and education level?

You need to paint a great picture of who your audience is.

Now look at the tools. Are you looking to drive direct sales to retirees? If so, print may be the way to go.

Build relationships? Social.

Re-establish relationships with former customers? Consider email.

The point is, each audience and each goal have a set of tools that work best in each scenario. That’s what you want to sniff out, and you do that by asking a lot of questions.

Integrating the (Right) Marketing Tools

I came to work for Gini Dietrich for a couple of reasons. One of the things that influenced my decision was the fact that I’ve never heard her say, “this is the only way to do this.”

She talks a lot about integrated approaches, and ultimately that is likely what you need. Your paid, earned, shared, and owned media efforts have to combine and work together to maximize your reach.

That means some social, some blogging, some traditional media relations, and some paid advertising. However, there are multiple tools within each of these categories. Some are right and some are wrong — for you.

You can drive a nail into a board with a pipe wrench, but you should really use a hammer.

Lose the Media Prejudice

Direct mail, street hawkers, door-to-door sales, social media, email, pay-per-click, and so on, are all tools that should be used if they are right for the job.

The problem is there are a lot of people out there who hate street hawkers. They think telemarketing is a waste of money, and print is dead. They think social can’t be used for B2B, and email marketing is just spammy.

Don’t be one of those. Keep an open mind, and find the right tool for the job. Don’t wind up trying to drive nails with pipe wrenches.

  • I was having this very conversation with briantudor and his digital branding class via Google Hangout today! Zealous digital marketers are quick to dismiss traditional marketing as out-of-touch and antiquated, but as you point out, those channels are incredibly successful for certain people, certain audiences, and certain industries. 

    It think it is also worth repeating that, as marketers, it is our responsible to serve the best needs of the client, and sometimes that mean using the older tools.

  • jasonkonopinski briantudor  The whole point is not to advocate one type or platform or tool over another. Folks should just keep an open mind and try to find the best results for their clients.

  • susancellura

    Amen to the fact that social media can be used with/in/for B2B!!!

  • susancellura  Indeed it can. And it can be challenging, but I’m a bit tired of hearing folks say you can’t use social for B2B.

  • ClayMorgan briantudor Precisely!

  • As an old person, I was very glad to  read this post. LOL All is not lost!!

  • Preach it, Clay! I couldn’t agree more. Using the right tool is so key – personally, I see it in the world of social, where some folks seem to think Facebook is the answer to all of their problems (it often isn’t) or that they “need a Twitter,” without ever asking why they need it and what they might accomplish if they use them.

  • Yes. 

    I have nothing to add but yes. To all of the above.

  • I’ve never said my way or the highway? I need to work on that.

  • ClayMorgan susancellura  Agree. I think that’s a disingenuous and lazy statement that people make without examining a lot of the things you mention in the post.

  • Great points Clay – I’m not sure if 2014 will be the year, but it seems to me that getting back to owned media is what the smart, integrated comms teams will push even harder for. Plenty of brands send massive traffic to Facebook (the TV spots w/FB page URL, for example) and then do a poor job of keeping a blog / website + email marketing, two channels which are extremely valuable if you take the time to do them right.

  • I agree with needing many tools in your toolbox.  Print mail works for me for home repair work, restaurant specials and the like.

    My trouble with some companies who utilize print mails is that they only use that. Most of these companies don’t even have a simple brochure website for interested potential clients to reference or go to for more information.

    I think though someone who abruptly cancels a meeting with someone who is dressed business casual or in jeans is judging a book by it’s cover and will have a hard time embracing new “tools” if they are stuck on meetings being conducted in suits. It’s all about moving forward with the times.

  • clay_morgan

    digett you are too kind!