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Clients constantly ask us for digital marketing information and recommendations. “We need digital marketing.” “We need a digital strategy.” “Wait, what exactly is digital marketing?”

There it is. Everyone is hearing about digital marketing but there is confusion about what it is and does. By extension, we have also learned that there is even more confusion about what it does NOT do.

It is probably best to think of digital marketing as an umbrella term that includes online advertising (banners, etc.), blogging, social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), search and paid search, and mobile. Of course, each of those has significant detail behind them and can be their own deep-dive discussion which we will avoid here.

Suffice it to say that reaching both Millennials and Boomers is critical because they are the two largest demographic groups in history, with Millennials representing the current and future market for a brand with a long lifespan and Boomers representing the current and past market with an eroding lifespan. Doing so is a huge and confusing undertaking because of the dynamics of both groups. Those dynamics are also well documented so we won’t detail it here. But take a look at Nielsen’s recent data on the reach of respective media channels:


Surprised? Radio, traditional media’s old warhorse, has the best reach of all media channels even amongst Millennials. Note that TV has only a 76% reach among Millennials compared to low 90s for GenX and Boomers. What this tells us is that if a marketer wishes to talk to “the market”, they need to employ a combination of traditional media and digital media to do so. No shortcuts.

No doubt you’ve come across companies advertising “work with us. All you need is to do this digital marketing tactic or that one and watch the results!” Be careful, because “results” mean different things to you than they do to the company selling you on their service.

For example, does it do you any good to generate a million impressions online with your digital campaign if your sales fail to increase? Do you care how many likes you get on Facebook if it costs you more than you generate in profit during the campaign?

On the other hand, a company that takes the time to construct a marketing campaign that includes a healthy dose of digital marketing supported by a strong traditional media effort tends to produce “results” that matter. Our clients tell us they are getting tremendous success increasing sales and traffic in their store locations by devising campaigns that use traditional media to reach masses and drive them to digital tactics designed to engage them on a deeper level and influence their behavior.

We recently had a restaurant client create a digital-only sweepstakes contest to create interest in their brand. There were daily cash prizes and a large grand prize and ran over a 30 day period. The contest was designed to promote brand engagement by posting customer stories about their feeling for the brand, photos, etc. on a dedicated social media site. We used a strong local market TV campaign with a call to action to go to the microsite created for the contest to sign up and win cash.

The 30-day campaign was a clear success. Digitally, it out-performed all industry benchmarks by a wide margin…as much as 250% in some cases…and that was accompanied by a positive impact on sales tied directly to the customer behaviors resulting from the campaign. It fully satisfied the objectives of the campaign: establish a stronger digital presence for the brand so it can begin attracting and engaging younger demographic customers while at the same time still talking to existing, older customers, as well as positively impacting sales.

The moral of the story is: digital marketing is far less effective on its own than when it is backed by a strong traditional media campaign. Put the two together and you have the most powerful recipe for producing results that matter you can find.

So avoid the hundreds of tactical companies trying to sell you on using a specific digital tactic, whether it is mobile, search or online ads. Look for a firm that “gets” how to help you achieve your real goal of increasing sales or profits, developing new customers while still speaking to old ones. Look for a strategic firm that offers an integrated approach including traditional and digital media.

Remember, growth only comes from increasing top line sales. Impressions, likes and engagement do not grow a brand unless sales also increase.

About On Brand Management

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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