I hear it all the time. “We’re hiring an online marketing person to take care of all that”. “We’ve allocated a budget for online marketing”. “We’re doing an online marketing campaign”.
And this is, oh, so wrong.
The divide between online and offline marketing is not there, end of story. It’s all marketing, people. Fair enough about having that kind of separation twenty years ago, when Google didn’t even exist. But today the game has changed.
Just as individuals are slowly but surely limited in their options to have totally separate lives online and offline (Mr Google, Mr Facebook and Mr Twitter want to be able to track you, wherever you are – your data is much more valuable this way), organisations can no longer keep separate plans, budgets and campaigns for online marketing and offline marketing.
Let’s look at an example: imagine you’re hosting an event. You’ve secured a great venue and some awesome speakers, sent a few printed invites and a bunch of emails, and followed-up by telephone with some key contacts. You mention it on Twitter, write about it on your company blog, and perhaps manage to get a mention in a trade publication. If your budget is generous you may even run a few sponsored tweets and an online display campaign in key industry sites. Are we talking online or offline?
The big day arrives: the venue is packed to the rafters, the AV system is working. You take a few deep breaths and you’re off! You ask guests to tweet using a specific hashtag. Let´s stretch the budget so you can have a Twitter wall to encourage audience engagement and that you’re also able to live stream the event in real time. The session is going so well and the debate is so lively you’re now trending on Twitter!
Do you see what I’m getting at?
After the event you send an email out to attendees, linking to a short video of the day that you’ve uploaded to your company’s YouTube channel. You write a few entries for the company blog based on the topics discussed, generating some fresh content that will do your site wonders from an SEO perspective. You also repurpose that same content for a presentation you’ll upload to SlideShare and as a white paper, hard copies of which you’re planning to send to a few interesting contacts and hand out at chemistry meetings.
My point: online/offline boundaries are blurred to say the least. Users have got savvier, search engines have become more sophisticated and the online world has become such a big part of the everyday experience that it doesn’t make sense anymore to keep it its own silo.
So what now?
First of all, blend both the online marketing budget and the offline marketing budget into one. Doesn’t it feel good to see it all plumped up?
Now go back to the drawing board. Think about who you’re trying to appeal to and what you want to tell them. Look at the best ways to reach them: it will most likely be a mix of channels, some of them already in use 50 years ago (like the telephone), some much newer (such as Pinterest). They all matter if they matter to your audience.
The bottom line? It’s about planning, executing and evaluating killer marketing campaigns. The people whose attention you want to grab won’t care whether you use online or offline channels, but they will sure know if you’ve managed to reach them.