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I recently discussed marketing with a friend of mine who’s been running their own business for nearly 40 years. Our discussion ranged from topics such as copywriting, strategy, and to our favorite single ads. (Spoiler alert: mine was the 1962 Alka Seltzer “Spicy Meatball” ad; his was Eisenhower’s 1952 Election Ad) However, we kept getting hung up on how to identify effective measurements. He kept defaulting towards newspaper placement, billboard location, and television views. In contrast, I kept talking about impressions, clicks, and conversions, which kept highlighting the differences between traditional marketing and digital marketing. However, in 2021 both methods are potent forms of reaching out and interacting with potential customers. 

Traditional Marketing

Traditional marketing campaigns such as magazines, newspapers, catalogs, TV ads, and billboards are tried-and-true marketing methods that continue to provide strong results in 2021. These forms of advertising are heavily localized and are natural tools for businesses such as dentists, car repair shops, beauty salons, and doctors. By narrowing in on local audiences, campaigns that implement these tools can give remarkable outcomes to advertisers.

When businesses focus on communities inside a particular area, they can use radio, TV, and local newspapers to generate leads and purchases. The conflict of traditional marketing vs. digital marketing takes a new shape when you consider the strengths of traditional advertising for local audiences. 

Physical Touchpoint

Over Memorial Day weekend, I drove to my hometown in Southeast Idaho and was delighted to see billboards for many local businesses that had survived the COVID-19 pandemic. I saw ads for other local businesses in the local newspaper and was given a pamphlet for an upcoming local event. These physical touchpoints tend to stick in the minds of consumers, and repetition through daily commutes and frequently-visited locations continue to remind them as they continue to spend time there. People interact with these physical ads on a level that digital displays don’t and can hold on to these physical copies for easy reference.

Local Network

Have you ever gone to a new restaurant because a friend recommended it? Family and friends are a valuable resource for traditional marketing since 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. Moreover, there’s already innate trust built into these relationships, which will help a potential consumer sway one way or another when considering a purchase. Although some tools such as Google My Business seek to replicate this small-town aesthetic, a local network remains a potent tool for community members to interact with businesses. 

Easy To Execute 

Traditional marketing methods will generally be less complex to learn and apply than digital marketing. For example, there’s only one way to design a billboard ad, radio advertisements will still be an audio-focused medium, and magazines are still a powerful method to reach out to tight-knit communities. However, digital marketing strategies are subject to frequent change. For example, in late May 2021, Google announced several radical changes to Google Ads. Likewise, Facebook Ads continues to implement changes to stabilize itself from the iOS 14.5 changes. In that regard, it’s easier to maintain skills in traditional marketing—you only ever have to learn how to do it once. 

With local advertisements for newspapers and magazines, you just need to draft the ad (sometimes even just the copy), and the publisher handles distribution for you. This form of “set it and forget it” marketing isn’t present in digital marketing. You have to be in the account frequently to measure key performance indicators (KPIs) and ensure that everything is running correctly.  

Digital Marketing

Easier To Measure

It’s easy to place a billboard ad off the highway and hope it brings in more customers. Or to run an ad during the local newscast and hope it brings in more customers. However, it may be hard to measure the impact of those ads over time, or even which of the two drove the conversion. However, with digital marketing campaigns, an advertiser can see exactly which ad generated the conversion, what prompted them to make the conversion, and other vital demographic information such as age, gender, and location to help inform how to best allocate your ad spend. So when you’re weighing traditional marketing vs. digital marketing spending, consider how vital it is to have the most accurate information to make spending decisions.   

Two Way Communication

If you misspelled a word on your pamphlet, newspaper ad, or billboard, you might not realize the error was made for days on end. However, with many forms of digital marketing, the consumer can interact directly with the business to inform them of these errors. The consumer can also reach out and ask essential questions that will help them close the gap towards making a purchase. When you compare and contrast traditional marketing vs. digital marketing methodology, maintaining two-way communication will help you understand your consumers’ pain points and how they weigh the value of your brand. 

Tailored Targeting and Retargeting

One of the greatest tools available to digital marketing efforts is the ability to target users who have specific interests, patterns, or identifiers. For example, Facebook advertising campaigns often rely on users’ interests to know what ads to serve them. Google advertising campaigns can use Affinity Audiences to pinpoint user’s interests based on their search history and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads to keep that user in the marketing funnel for as long as possible. Through these digital marketing tools, advertisers provide quality control on who can and cannot see the ad. 

Making An Impression

Traditional marketing and digital marketing each have their special-case uses and will continue to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of marketing as a whole. At its core, marketing aims to lead a client to fulfill a specific call to action. To quote Bill Bernbach, “Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.” At Set Fire Creative, we emphasize the importance of all touchpoints in the marketing funnel and how your customers interact with your business. As such, we build potent digital marketing campaigns that work hand in hand with traditional methods. Reach out today for a free consultation on how Set Fire Creative can help you scale your business!