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Killing Traditional Marketing Could Kill Cash Flow

by on
in The Integrated Marketer

Is it just me, or is there a lot of buzz about the death of so-called traditional marketing tactics?

This summer, for example, Visibility magazine ran an article in which Gen Y Business Consulting’s Aiden Livingston asserts that Web 2.0 conversation marketing has killed the effectiveness of traditional tactics like TV ads, radio spots and direct mail campaigns.  Why?  Because, he writes, “the change most advertisers fail to grasp is that we promote products within our own groups.  We don’t rely on information that is solicited to us.  We ask friends who would know.”

How long can you wait for results?

Okay, so we ask our friends and colleagues what they think.  And conversation messaging strategies and marketing tactics should be part of every communication and promotion plan.  Agreed.  But the weakness in only using Web 2.0 tactics is that while messaging may be instant, the process of gathering input from that trusted group – friends, colleagues, experts — isn’t.  It can take a while for people to act.  That’s a problem if you need to generate leads or close deals fast. Direct marketing, TV, radio and print ads can indeed deliver fast-track results. 

Case in point: a fishing lodge was extremely successful at starting Web 2.0 conversations with potential guests. Traffic at the Web site and blog soared, a real community formed, other blogs and outlets picked up news about the lodge. The lodge owners see good “down the road” potential from these conversations.  In the meantime, they’ve had to rely on direct response to land immediate bookings.

Something to talk about

All of us – not just Gen Yers – like to get our “group’s” opinions and help.  But before we ask for advice about how to spend our money on a product or service, we’ve got to know that product or service exists.  At least for the time being, traditional marketing still shines at introducing us to what’s available.  So if we’re going to enter into conversation with brands, traditional marketing gives us something to talk about.

Did you see that?

Sure, there are Gen Yers who may never interact with TV or radio and hate direct mail.  By the same token, there are plenty of people – even GenYers -- who don’t blog, Twitter, use Facebook or an RSS reader. That’s why, in my book at least, strategy should still focus on a marketing MIX.  It should also focus on making a good, old-fashioned connection with your audience. 

Because the truth is that while Web 2.0 technologies are new, “conversation marketing” isn’t. Good campaigns have never lectured; good marketing has always been about building relationships and offering solutions. Traditional marketing just offers those solutions in a more action-oriented way. 

Bottom line: Sure, embrace Web 2.0 tactics. But be careful -- killing ALL your traditional marketing might just kill cash flow, too.

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