If like most small businesses you have a limited marketing budget, deciding whether to spend it on or offline can be tricky, but according to Alan Kaplan it is possible to get the best of both worlds.
Many SMEs ask about the relative merits of conventional versus digital marketing. This depends on many factors such as strategy, objectives, target market, budget, timing, degree of interaction required and others. For larger corporations brand marketing has traditionally occupied a large slice of conventional media through TV, print, and radio, primarily the first mentioned.
The reason is that TV advertising focuses to a large extent on creating and building brand awareness, salience and image as well as attempting to influence brand positioning, often as part of a broader ongoing campaign.
Marketing in the digital space is growing enormously in importance and continue to flourish based on trends. This represents the highest area of incremental spend from a media perspective on a year on year basis internationally. Online expenditure has jumped around four hundred percent in the last decade and Forbes is of the opinion that by 2016 online spend would have surpassed that of TV in the USA.
When it comes to the integration of conventional and digital channels however, research companies, including AC Nielsen, found that, when properly integrated, recall of advertising as well as purchase consideration increases when conventional and digital advertising are well integrated. In fact well before the advent of the digital renaissance research also showed that overall a good mix of traditional media usually achieved similar positive outcomes, something experienced first hand across a number of companies from start ups to international blue chips.
Examples of media integration occur when TV commercials are placed (or adapted) for inclusion on websites or YouTube, or when brands that are built on traditional media utilize Facebook to run competitions on. There is little doubt therefore that in the brand context traditional media still has an important role to play, as does digital marketing, and that they complement one another in many integral ways.
In many instances therefore, traditional and digital media dovetail extremely well, with digital media well suited to direct response marketing, to give but one example.
As such there is a place for both conventional and digital options in the marketing mix and one of the key issues revolves around the optimal manner to engage with the target market relative to objectives.
So far as SMEs are concerned budgets are certainly a key consideration and many, especially small enterprises, often focus on print as a consequence of cost. Others focus on relatively low cost infomercials to coincide with promotions either in-store or online, a synergistic tactic utilised by some clients on an on-going basis.
In this regard it is however important to keep in mind the target market and execution as we have advised many clients to add emotional values to brands they are promoting only in a functional manner. Once this is achieved sales often improve markedly.
Whilst the digital space has many advantages for SME’s including the potential to build loyalty and engagement, relatively low entry cost and measurement and global engagement where appropriate, there is much to be said about the benefits of an integrated approach to marketing, as relevant. In this regard KPI’s and ROI are both important considerations.
In this regard there are no hard and fast rules or one size fits all. Every situation is unique and therefore media tactics need to be tailored accordingly. Where funds are extremely limited our view would be to consolidate what spend there is across the most important channels and review as circumstances permit.
Many SMEs may only be able to afford, or believe they need, digital options at the outset which is an excellent platform from which to build.
Alan Kaplan PhD is an Executive Director of Optivance 360 a multidisciplinary consultancy that helps SME’s grow and flourish. Alan’s international experience spans more than 25 years across academic, media, agency, client and consulting areas. Alan’s profile can be viewed on LinkedIn and he can be contacted on 0418 758 555. The skills and experience of the core Optivance 360 team, together with its service offering and value proposition can be viewed at www.optivance360.com