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No doubt you have heard about the huge transformation going on in the media world. You know, the screaming headlines about how “digital has killed newspapers, and TV and radio are next!” You also may have heard about this new demographic group called Millennials, the younger generation that is larger than Boomers and walks to the beat of their own drums?

The impact in the media world cannot be overstated. Television is seeing audiences erode as viewers turn to alternative entertainment and information sources. Newspapers have been fighting for their lives for years as their outdated delivery models render them virtually obsolete in many cases. Radio remains the powerhouse medium for reaching all demographic groups including Millennials but has seen growth grind to a standstill as the time audiences spend with the medium has dropped considerably, especially with those Millennials. Now underway is the “cord-cutting” phenomenon as cable subscribers, fed up with ever-rising fees due to programming increases, drop their cable subscriptions entirely or often trim their packages to lower-priced offerings.

But what has this meant to the marketing world? Literally, it has turned thing upside down.

You may recall in the 1990’s Don Peppers and Martha Rogers essentially started the One-to-One marketing movement now in vogue with their publications about customer-centricity. The theory in summary said that with the advent of the Internet technology, marketers have the ability to revert back to the “pre-mass media” days when marketing involved individualized communication with friends, neighbors and business associates. The Internet allows organizations to identify their ideal customers, group them by various attributes and then interact with them on a customized basis.


Marketers recognized the power of this and rapidly embraced its principles. Now that the media world is being dramatically disrupted by digital technology the pressure on marketing to adapt is greater than ever before.

There are now thousands of vendors out selling digital services to advertisers and marketers. One will sell you a Search Engine Optimization Program. Another is all about Mobile Marketing. Are you advertising online? There are plenty of vendors touting those services.

Then of course, there are the TV stations, radio stations, cable systems, newspapers and billboard companies working to sell their ad packages. Yet other vendors talk about “digital strategy” and others talk about “social media strategy”. Still more will tell you digital is the only marketing you need, that newspapers are dead and radio and TV are following in their footsteps. And of course, as we previously noted the TV, radio, newspaper and outdoor traditional media are still plenty potent competitors and remain the best ways to reach large audiences in one setting.

Marketers are faced with daunting choices as well as increased pressure from the C-Suite to produce solid ROI with their marketing programs. It used to be that marketing was considered an art form. Now, it is a science. Marketing is measurable in ways previously unheard of.

Curious to us, in our practice we still see a majority of marketing executives refusing to embrace the concept of measurement of their activities and therefore, a resistance to accountability. Some of that likely comes from the digital universe which adopts a position where if you aren’t fully investing in digital to the expense of traditional media then you somehow just don’t get it. There’s also a great deal of peer pressure.

Been to conferences or trade shows recently and listened to marketing executives talk about what they’re doing? If you believe what they are saying, everything is all about using social media, mobile marketing and use of digital media. They’re talking about impressions, click-through rates and costs-per-click.

Now, ever been inside a C-Suite to hear what they are talking about? It’s revenue increases, market share increases, profitability and return on investment. And also an often unacknowledged fact: if it truly is all about digital media and marketing, how do you plan on still talking to the Boomers, the second-largest demographic group there is and the ones with roughly double the buying power of Millennials?

Reality is, marketers now need to be investing in both digital and traditional marketing tactics and depending on the type of business, those investments may need to be equal or be weighted heavier in one direction or another.

Mass media remains a very viable marketing choice, and it is essential to reach large clusters of desirable audiences of all ages.

Radio is a medium that has received much criticism in the press, particularly because of the financial condition of two of the major station owners in the country. Despite that, radio has the greatest reach of all media including TV and digital. A recent study conducted by Nielsen revealed 93% of all adults in the U.S. use radio each week, and even among Millennials radio has the best reach of all.

TV continues to provide access to the largest mass audiences at a time but according to Nielsen is losing reach on a very rapid basis with younger audiences. Newspapers continue to erode, handicapped by their slow delivery models and expensive production costs. However, these papers remain popular in local markets with older audiences and as a credible source of information.

Digital media is surging within the younger demos and is eroding time spent with traditional media including radio, even though it trails in total reach.

So today’s marketer faces challenges unlike any of their predecessors. It is complicated for sure. But the tools available to them are also unprecedented and the excuses for producing poorly performing marketing plans are fewer and fewer.

A balanced approach, with intelligent use of tactics based on the desirable targeted audiences needing to be reached is the first step to achieving success. Being fully accountable through tight measurement of marketing performance and investment returns is also critical.

But perhaps most important is accepting the reality of today’s business world. Resources are tight and every dollar invested has to produce. Adapting to that and embracing the disruption going on in media is the marketer’s best weapon.

Chris Petersen is Managing Partner at On Brand Management, a diverse problem-solving firm offering local and regional businesses access to expertise normally reserved for global and national companies. Contact Chris at On Brand helps clients navigate today’s dynamic market by providing performance-driven solutions to sustain an organization’s stability and growth. On Brand has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, New York, Washington, DC and St. Petersburg, Fl.



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