There are some key differences between traditional marketing and digital marketing that a small-business owner should know. Since each type offers opportunities to catch the interest of potential customers, create awareness as per the sales funnel, we will outline them in broad strokes in this post.
Maybe the concept sales funnel is known to you already? A sales funnel illustrates how the relationship between a potential customer and a business changes once it develops from becoming aware to the actual sales transaction and beyond.
The constant question we as entrepreneurs must ask ourselves is of course “How will people find our business?”, and in changing times there certainly is no one-size-fits-all answer. Our visions and missions are unique to each firm, and our business models differ, too, even when the former sound rather similar (for example a restaurant or hair salon).
Many modern-day marketers focus heavily on social media, but there are numerous additions or alternatives to them. It may simply be a matter of not having found what works for you optimally yet, if you have a hard time getting the word out.
How could you have sales if your targeted segment isn’t even aware of your business? It is easy to jump ahead to focus on later phases of doing business, since your own firm is naturally familiar to you (as in you already know the products and services, but your potential customers don’t!).
In uncertain times, however, it is particularly important to work regulary on the first parts of the sales funnel, namely letting people know you exist, so you can move on to capture their interest.
This is where traditional marketing and digital marketing come in. You may think one is vastly superior, but it may turn out it is the other that will be the option to go with. Or a combination of both! Continuous testing is key to success.
Defining Traditional Marketing
Traditional marketing consists of methods to reach your potential and existing customers whilst using offline forms of communication.
Traditional may sound old-fashioned and outdated, but it isn’t unless you think for example that media such as print or radio are dead.
Some forms of traditional marketing:
- Broadcasting: advertisements in tv and radio. Podcasting as a recent phenomenon belongs here, too.
- Cold-calling: phone calls made randomly to potential or existing B2B customers. Compare to B2C telemarketing below.
- Fairs, trade shows and customer events: in-person meetings that can be booked in advance or happen organically during trade shows etc.
- Outdoor marketing: ads on billboards next to roads, bus stops, shopping streets, etc.
- Referrals: a customer refers a friend and gets a perk of some kind such as a coupon code. Compare to the digital form affiliate marketing below. If referrals happen online, they are considered a type of digital marketing though.
- Print media: ads in newspapers and magazines, customer magazines, product catalogs, brochures delivered in mailboxes, pamphlets put on window shields of cars, and much more.
- Telemarketing: the dreaded unsolicited phone calls that quite often are unethical due to the recipient already having forbidden them. Compare to B2B cold-calling above.
Read more about B2C and B2B in our blog post “What Is Customer Experience Or CX?”.
Defining Digital Marketing
Digital marketing happens online. It is much more than the typical example of social-media marketing that is used among small-business owners.
Some forms of digital marketing:
- Affiliate marketing: relies on the assistance of affiliates, your customers who already know and believe in your offering, to reach their own networks, and paying the affiliate a commission on each sale. An affiliate receives a unique link to share with their contacts such that each sale they generate becomes tied to their person or business. Compare to the traditional for referrals above.
- Content marketing: also called valuable content marketing to insinuate that the targeted audience gets educational content in return for their engagement. Once there is enough trust built, they are ready to pay for even more content such as e-books or online courses.
- Digital advertisement: ads online such as on influencer website blogs, or pay-per-click ads on social-media platforms.
- Email marketing: the typical regular newsletter, automated courses that usually pitch a product at some point, automated marketing campaigns when launching a product or service.
- Search-engine marketing: placing ads for specifically chosen keywords to appear on top of a search engine before the search results are listed.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): the optimisation of a website and all its content to drive organic traffic through appearing high in search results for various keywords.
- Social-media marketing: marketing on social-media platforms with the aim of driving sales (but beware of vanity metrics, numbers that are pretty make-up without converting into actual sales!).
It is easy to assume that traditional is bad and modern is good, but while some forms of traditional marketing such as tv commercials are expensive to produce, networking at a trade show could add numerous new customers to your database. In the latter case you may only have paid a registration fee, so divided by the number of customers hooked it may be a fast track to spread the word.
Using social-media platforms for marketing is free, but running many ad campaigns that have no real conversion into paying customers can be surprisingly expensive. Placing an ad in a magazine may have produced a better return on investment.
While the creating awareness section in itself has nothing to do with the definitions of traditional and digital marketing, we return to the conundrum of spreading the word. If one tactic does not serve you, another may take you by complete surprise in its fruitfulness. Unless you keep testing, you will not know though. While it may sound theoretical to discuss yet another definition, the reason is why you can remain in business, securely and profitably.
Nobody said that marketing is easy. It can be ridiculously frustrating to be honest, but often this is a sign that we haven’t found what works yet. We don’t tend to get sighs from the big names in marketing, do we, because they already figured it out (as per Marie Forleo).
The one thing we will always recommend is that no matter which tactic you choose, be consistent. Our own efforts during the pandemic have admittedly been scattered, since I spent most of 2020 on my sole proprietorship, but we are back in full swing now with lots of good stuff about to be launched, so stay tuned!
Photo credit: Kate Trysh.