The Arrogance of the Digital Only Crowd

Digital marketers arrogantly believe that the Internet has taken over the marketing world by replacing proven marketing principles and traditional media. They lead their companies to loose market share by neglecting moneymaking opportunities offered with direct mail, print advertising and Direct Response broadcast.

Digital marketing is not a strategy. It is nothing more than an emphasis on the Internet channel. Such a belief overlooks a large body of proven marketing knowledge that has earned it's standing through rigorous and ongoing testing.

I think another reason for this narrow minded reasoning exists because younger marketers in particular know little if anything about how traditional media works.

It's not that the Internet does not play a major role in the marketing mix. But ROI alone does not achieve top line sales objectives.

I receive regular requests from companies that use digital media alone. They ask for help in reaching their sales volume goals. They are usually making money. But they cannot penetrate their target markets deeply enough to crowd out competitors using digital marketing alone.

Here's the telling question.

Would you rather get a 40% margin on $1,000,000 in sales using the Internet alone or earn 20% on $10,000,000 using all available channels? Almost without exception, the Internet alone cannot meet the top line sales goals of most organizations. 

Digital media alone does not replace traditional media and never will. Digital marketers simply specialize in a single medium ignoring profitable channels that grew out of proven advertising strategies.

And here's the larger issue! It's not just about digital marketing versus traditional marketing or even omnichannel marketing anymore. It's about what I call omnistrategy marketing.

Positioning and direct marketing strategies present the principal two marketing approaches for achieving company sales goals. They can work independently of each other. But I have always believed they work better together than alone.

The rationale for this perspective looks something like the flow chart below. Notice how both traditional and digital marketing flow beneath the overarching positioning and direct marketing strategies.

Omnistrategy Marketing.jpg

Notice how the two overarching strategies use all channels to achieve your sales and profit goals. Positioners (often referred to as awareness advertisers) and direct marketers wield all channels to leverage their campaigns. 

Positioners often use only traditional media or only new media (digital). They also combine traditional with new media. Direct marketers have the same options.

Response rates climb with omnichannel support. Response also climbs when general advertisers build product demand through skillful positioning.

What is missing is a clear understanding about how these two principal strategies differ and how they can work well together.

The telling characteristics of positioning only advertising include the following.

•    No database

•    No analytics of customer data since there is no database that relates response to individual records

•    Reliance on primary research rather than response or behavior data

•    Creates demand by often ineffective mass marketing rather than accurate targeting 

•    Tests the market for product design, but it is not based on projectable sampling

•    Awareness advertising positions the product creating product demand

General advertisers sometimes integrate direct response marketing. But they usually do it poorly. The points listed below show how general advertisers practice direct marketing.

•    Direct marketing considered a tactical, “under the line” activity

•    General advertisers do not see direct marketing as a multichannel strategy or overarching advertising approach

•    Little attention given, if any to the offer

•    Awareness advertisers wrongly consider asking for the order as counter productive to product positioning and branding

•    General advertisers do not want to make their activities directly accountable for sales and fear the accountability for sales

Sometimes, companies use the direct marketing strategy without awareness advertising support. They count on the direct response advertising to create demand and sales simultaneously. In most cases, all channels promote the company's services and products. It is not uncommon for the Internet or even direct mail to emerge as the core medium when substantiated by appropriate testing.

These are the characteristics of direct marketing when used as the primary marketing strategy.

•    Positioning often poorly defined

•    Look and feel takes a lower priority than response

•    Customer data analyzed for targeting by demographics, lifestyle and behavior characteristics

•    Primary research not considered helpful except for unveiling new creative concepts or product design

•    A/B split testing key part of the direct marketing discipline that continually strives to exceed past results (testing uses controls to make the response analysis scientifically reliable and scalable)

•    Direct marketing goes well beyond direct mail to include any channel that improves both top line and bottom line sales results

•    Direct marketing is the only marketing strategy that allows true accountability for sales results

Modern direct marketers understand how positioning and awareness improve response rates. 

The bottom line -- improve your results through omnistrategy marketing that merges the best of positioning and direct marketing strategies. And yes, you do want to incorporate new media in your mix.

Posted on August 25, 2015 and filed under Direct Marketing Strategy.