In this episode, Daniel Parscale looks for answers from marketing expert Kelsey Rutis on a long-held debate over traditional and digital marketing. Which is better? Which brings a bigger bang for the buck? And what about coupon — do people still use those things?
Read the transcript:
So, thank you, Kelsey, for joining us today on Reach.
It’s a real pleasure to have you here. I’ve been looking forward to having you on this show for a while. And today’s show, I think, is going to be really interesting, because we’re going to be able to really play devil’s advocate from both sides of the argument. We’re going to talk about the difference between traditional marketing and digital marketing. And I guess we should start with some real quick baselines about what we’re referring to with both. It might be apparent that digital marketing is going to include things like online ads, social media marketing, stuff like that.
Yeah, so that would be digital. And then traditional, you’re typically thinking about a printed ad or TV broadcast radio. That kind of thing. So good old fashioned marketing
Right, the stuff that my parents were probably used to, and still are used to, I guess, right?
Right, and I think of that traditionally as advertising. I also kind of put paid search within that category, of it’s something you’re paying for, and getting a product out of it that is going out into the world.
I got to say, I was preparing for the show by trying to see what other people were talking about in this conversation. I literally just searched for digital marketing versus traditional marketing. And there’s a lot written about it. And I got to say that it’s probably because the people who are writing these are digital marketers. But it seems like they are leaning a little bit towards the benefits of digital marketing. But, they also say that you need to make sure to include, or not write off altogether, traditional marketing. And so I kind of want to see, what would lead them to that? What do you think are some of the more important benefits of both?
Well, I mean–
Pros and cons.
Yeah, digital’s exciting, right? It’s the new, well not really new anymore, but it’s the shiny thing that’s out there, that there’s always something new and fun to think about, and new website builds, and new social media. So I think that’s part of it, is people get excited about it because it’s different. But needing to have a balance is really important, because there’s still people out there competing through traditional marketing.
So you have to be out there with your competitors. And you have to be out there to have brand recognition, because not everybody’s online, as much as we think they are.
Yeah, well it’s absolutely the truth. I know a lot of people who are in my neighborhood who they, I can guarantee, that they get no digital marketing sent to them, because they don’t have an e-mail address, or they’re of a certain generation. But, I think that they’re being reached more reliably by mailers or their newspaper ads or something like that.
Yeah, but I also think that’s also a common misconception, is that maybe the older generations aren’t online. And I know that my grandparents, they sure love Facebook.
I think actually that, what is it, I think the 60 plus age demographic, is like the fastest growing Facebook demographic. Like fastest– is that right? I think I’m reaching–
Did you just pull that out of your knowledge bank? I’m really impressed.
I read it once, months ago. I don’t remember the exact number.
It sounds right, yeah.
Because I think the kids are going to like Snapchat, the new cool, hot, new thing that’s out there. Is Snapchat still cool? I don’t know. I think I’m a little bit out of that age range
Yeah, I’m outside of the cool age demographic myself, so I can’t really say reliably.
Yeah, but we’re also talking about the older demographic. But I also get really excited when I get those coupon booklets in the mail. I don’t know about other folks. I’m considered a millennial. But I’m still consuming that media. And whether I act on it or not, I may not act on a coupon, but if I see your brand there with messaging that resonates with me, and then I see an online ad, I might then be compelled to act. So I think it’s interesting to think about how people interact with your marketing in the world, both digital and traditional, and the pathway that they take to act on it.
I have to say I think you’re the only millennial that I’ve ever met who actually gets excited about, or uses the coupon books.
Well, at least that’s told me this.
Oh, mine goes straight into the recycling bin.
What? You don’t even look at it?
No way, I pay full price on purpose. I’m really excited about that. But, this brings up something interesting, right? Like we talked just a second ago about, about the kids moving to Snapchat, right? And there’s always something new, as you pointed out in digital. And I think that there’s an argument to be made for the reliability of traditional marketing, not just in that it’s still continuing to poll, and that people do respond to it. But it’s also like people know what to expect. They might be like me and throw some advertisements away automatically, because they see it and they know it’s an ad. But the ones who don’t, they have this kind of connection with that, in a way that digital marketing– it changes overnight, right?
So there may be a benefit to that.
But you throw away every single ad?
Well, I mean–
Like every single ad you throw away?
I’m pretty careless with my mail, to be honest with you.
I’m kind of disappointed in you as a marketer. I feel like it’s a hobby to look through ads, and kind see what other people are doing.
I suddenly feel like the tables have turned in this conversation. So, some of the other things that might be different in here, people are obviously, marketers especially, are going to be talking about the ROI on your advertising or your marketing. And that’s vastly different between the two, right? Traditional and digital, that is? Or can be, I guess I shouldn’t be sweeping.
It can be. If you think about the reach of an ad in a newspaper, you have the cost associated with printing the piece. So obviously there’s production cost there that you don’t have in digital. So I think one of the good points about digital is that it doesn’t cost a whole lot to create those ads. If you have a designer, and sometimes not even that, if you’re doing text ads, you just have to put some words out there, and you’re done. So there’s a lot more work involved with traditional. But I think the impact is also different. I think there’s something great about holding an ad in your hand.
I agree, yeah.
But I read coupons, so, it sounds like I’m the only millennial that you know that likes the look and feel of a printed ad.
I really hope I haven’t touched a personal nerve with this.
I’m a little sensitive now, it’s OK.
Well, I’ll be sure to send you a card.
It’s OK, I’ll take you out for a buy one get one.
This is something really good already. Well OK, so actually, that’s something that I wanted to touch base on is that’s a limitation of digital actually. And I don’t think that people often think about the limitations of digital. But, you don’t have something tangible in the same way that you do, if you get a postcard in the mail or something like that, right?
And that can be an asset, depending on what you’re advertising.
Yeah, I think of my friend who is so adamant against Kindle. She loves the feeling of a real book in her hands. And it’s the same kind of concept that some people just really like. And it has a different feeling, or it resonates differently than a digital ad would. And a digital ad kind of disappears off into space, unless it’s an e-mail, right?
So, if it’s a paid search ad, it’s great. But it’s there for a moment in time. So I think there’s something to be said to have something tangible. So I think that’s where email can really fill that gap, because I know when I’m out shopping and I’ve received an email with a coupon in it, I pull it up on my phone. Again, I’m showing my love for coupons here. But–
You’re very thrifty.
I am, I am.
So, for people where that really– where they are actually engaging with this kind of thing, that provides something that they, you cannot get it with, for instance, a display ad, or a paid search ad, or something like that. So that’s a really interesting benefit to that.
Yeah, I love coupons.
I know you do.
What’s the last coupon you clipped?
It was probably something at Ulta, beauty supply store.
Another place I’ve never been to.
I’m not surprised. Yeah, no, they send coupons via e-mail. And so, I don’t often think of it before I go. But when I’m in the store, I’m like, oh, right, I need to look that up. And so, I’ll pull out my phone, which is another plus of digital, is that we’re all carrying tiny, brilliant computers, connected to everything in our pockets.
So when you have that experience, do you feel like you are getting more from the advertising that is on your phone, that’s digital? Or are you getting more from your experience with the coupons that are being sent to you? Or do you feel like you’re lacking in some way?
It’s equal. I love coupons, as much as I love having access to them on my phone.
That’s interesting. So, OK, you’re in the store, and you did not get your Monday coupons, which is sad, but you’ve got your phone out. What are some of the other things that might make for a positive experience for you, with that situation?
In a store? Interacting with my phone?
Actually, when you’re shopping, so you’re shopping and you’re comparing prices or comparing selection, I’ll often look up a product on my phone to either look at ratings of it from people, to see if it’s something I want to buy, or if I feel like it’s really overpriced, I might see what other retailers are offering it for. And that’s access to so much information that we’ve never had before. 20 years ago, we couldn’t have done that. So it kind of blows my mind still, thinking about how I had a Nokia phone that couldn’t text message, couldn’t do anything, back in early days.
Actually that’s another point, too, that I think has been raised in previous discussions, but I think it’s important, is you’re talking about being able to pull out your phone and compare things. You can’t do that if you’ve got a coupon book that’s been mailed to you, right? It doesn’t flip to the next page, and suddenly you see the competitors pricing on the same thing, or there’s separate offers. So that’s actually kind of nice. You’ve got kind of a captive audience, if you are able to engage with people at all. So that’s kind of a benefit that, or an advantage, that traditional marketing may have over digital, right?
I think so. But I do think you lose that exclusivity, because I know if I get, say my favor restaurant sends a coupon for a free dinner if you buy one, I don’t think about all the other restaurants I could look up that might be having that same offer, I just pull it out and I use it. So, I think there’s something to be said about feeling like it’s a special offer, just from that company, just for me.
That’s a good point.
Versus the price shopping or the comparing online that we do. So I think they’re almost two different animals.
OK, so let’s switch gears a little bit, and put ourselves back into the office of the marketer. And you’ve got your ads out, and you’re trying to figure out how they’ve been doing, right? So there’s different opportunities with metrics. And I think, in my opinion, tell me if I’m wrong here. I think that digital has a clear advantage here in that you can do a ton of different stuff to track the exposure, to focus the exposure that you get, to really see if it’s doing well, to make, I mean all kinds of different things, right? We could have an entire show based on just the surface of all that, but do you agree? Do you disagree?
Yeah, I absolutely agree. The capability is to target and really customize your message, and make messages relevant to those particular groups of people you’re trying to reach. You can’t get that anywhere else. You can’t target the moms who are 40 plus, and living in a certain suburban area, in a newspaper. You can target a zip code, and maybe with a direct mailing by demographics. But, you really can’t do that. And I think the access to information, and it’s almost scary how much tracking is always following us around online. I think it’s awesome as a marketer. But I know lots of people are a little anxious about it. So, but as a marketer, it’s amazing. I love when I see new types of ads, or new ways of advertising online, because we’re getting so smart with how we do it.
There are a couple of different ways that you can track your benefits of your traditional marketing. You could use a tracking phone number, for instance. You could also just kind of gauge your foot traffic, if you’ve got a brick and mortar store. Or coupons, great example, right? You can use those as a way to figure out how many people are actually getting these, keeping these, and then using them. But is that all enough? I mean, is that enough to really make you want to invest in that, on its own? Or?
To some degree, and I think it depends on who you are. Like some people I think love hearing, Oh, I saw your ad. It looked great. And that’s enough for them to keep doing it. There’s other folks that need the hard data to say 27 people called, and 14 purchased, and we made X amount of dollars. So, I think you have to take all pieces into account. And it’s the same with digital though, if you think about it. You’re tracking calls. But who’s to say that somebody didn’t see a newspaper ad, went to research your business, and called off that website number, or e-mailed off that form that’s on your website? You don’t always know what triggered the action.
Which is why it’s important to be out in a lot of different avenues, because you just– you want to be out in all the ways, and at all the times that people are ready to act.
I think you’re right. That’s what I would ordinarily advocate. And sometimes you can build campaigns, or come up with a concept that really does both at the same time, or relies on having both of those out there. Branding is a great example of this, I think, because you can have, in a lot of cases I think you can have the same message with the same style, portrayed in print and digitally, and have compounded efforts with that.
So that’s an important thing to take note of. OK, so I have my opinions on digital versus traditional. You’ve got yours. Convince me, which one is better? What do I– what is it that I want to invest in?
I feel like a parent with what I’m about to say. And it’s that you can’t really pick a favorite, not at this point in the world. I think 10 years down the line, it might be different. But I do feel like it’s pretty evenly matched. And it depends on your industry. It depends on your business structure, what you’re offering. But I do really think that you’re missing the mark if you don’t have a balanced marketing plan that’s integrating both digital and traditional methods. You’re missing a huge opportunity within your market to reach the people that need to be reached, for whatever it is that you’re offering, in the various places when they’re ready to act. Let me ask you, Dan.
What’s your favorite? Or what’s better? Not favorite, what’s better?
Well, I mean, my career focus is on digital. So I think that for my job sake, I’m going to say digital. I think it’s more interesting. And I think you can reach a lot of different avenues that you can’t with traditional. But, every time I build something that is a digital campaign, I always make sure to include it with kind of a physical counterpart too, whether it’s just a flyer to match the graphics that I’m using in my digital campaign, and put it out into the real world. Or, what’s another example of something, or just an ad, honestly. If I can expand my digital into the, I guess you could call it the real world, then [INAUDIBLE] what’s there. Then I feel like you get a lot more reach, and it reminds people in different mindsets too. Because you know, when I’m sitting in front of my computer, and I’m browsing the internet or whatever, I’m in one frame of mind. And if I’m at home relaxing, reading a magazine, for instance, I’m in a totally different one. So if I’m getting hit at, from both angles with that, that’s the way that I do it. But I think that for my personality, I tend to think digital first, at least in the way I’m planning it out.
One of the other things too, is that for my skill set, I think that I’m a little bit more inclined to work with digital stuff anyway. I would argue that with traditional stuff, when you’re actually putting it into practice, you have a lot of coordination skills, and planning, and scheduling, and working with other people to make sure that everything is right, and it hits by a certain date and so forth. And with digital stuff, there’s a little bit more flexibility on those kinds of things, because if you, let’s say that a website has a typo, you can just fix it, right? You can’t do that if you’ve got an advertisement that goes to print the same typo. So, I’m inclined towards those features a little bit more, because I’m–
Such a millennial.
Make a lot of typos. I know, I know, I’m unreliable with that stuff.
Can you give me an example of any brands that you know or like that maybe you’ve seen different advertisements from them, one in print and one online maybe?
Have you ever seen that happen?
Yeah, my dentist is really good at this. So thank you for asking. I love their marketing. And I’m always like, I just want to go talk to their owner and say, good job, you’re doing a great job. Because they are private practice business, so they’re working hard for their money. And what I appreciate about them, is that they send me mailings. Knowing that I’m a millennial, they haven’t just opted me out of mailings, which I appreciate, because you know I love coupons. And they also send me text messages and emails. So oftentimes I’ll get their mailing, and I’ll set it aside and say, oh yeah, I need to make an appointment, or I sure do want to get my teeth whitened. But I don’t necessarily act on it at the time, but maybe I have a few free minutes at lunch at work, and I get an e-mail. I may follow up on it then. And I appreciate that they’re hitting me at different points in the day, and in different mediums, so that when I am ready to act, I have their information right at my fingertips.
I have a similar experience with my dentist, now that I think about it. I would always forget to schedule my next appointment, if it weren’t for those e-mails and other ways that they’re hitting me up. In your case, are the messages in the mailer that you’re getting, different than the actual e-mail? Or do they kind of look comparable? Or how do they different?
I get a little bit of both. Sometimes I’ll get a promotional like postcard, with a coupon for a free whitening, or whatever it is. And then I’ll get kind of more the patient retention message over e-mail of, hey, don’t forget to schedule your appointment, which is important because one message might resonate with somebody more than the other. So it’s a little bit of both.
Yeah, that makes sense. You were talking a little bit earlier, I believe, about how you can have your first interaction with one kind of marketing, and then actually make your action, or your decision to interact them, based off of one that comes later. That’s a great example of that, too. Not only with two different calls to action, but two different offers. They hit you at different times too.
Absolutely, and I think they carry it throughout their office. So we were talking about it’s important to carry your message or your brand throughout whatever interaction it is. And when I show up, they’ll say, hey, it was so nice talking to you the other day. And I’m always blown away that they knew that they talked to me on the phone. That doesn’t happen anymore in this world.
They also have a registration system. So when you come in for the first time, you set up all your information on a computer or tablet. I remember thinking that’s so cool. It’s so, so new and digital. It’s awesome. And they have a sign of like us on Facebook to be entered in a contest. So they’re hitting me in these different ways that’s carrying that brand of patient care throughout the process, which makes me want to act on things when I get a coupon in the mail, or when I get an email from them. I’m more likely to act on it, because the experience in the office mirrored their message that they’re putting out there.
That’s a really good point. And you know when you’re laying it out, with all these different options, you are kind of put in the position where you get to choose which one of these is resonating the most with you, right? So it kind of makes it a little bit more personal, even in the way that they’re advertising to you.
Right, it’s kind of choose your own adventure, for their demographic.
Oh, I love those books.
All right we’re going to get down to brass tacks here.
Let’s do it. I’m ready.
So, we’ve been avoiding the conversation about cost, right?
I haven’t been avoiding it. Maybe you have.
I’m a little bit scared of dollars and cents here, so
It will be OK.
OK, thank you. Walk me through this then.
OK, thank you. Walk me through this then.
So, I’m going to want to know eventually, how am I going to get the most bang for my buck. And I want to know is one of these methods going to be more cost effective? And how do you just make that decision, like when you’re actually planning things out?
OK, thank you. Walk me through this then.
That’s a great question. And it’s something I’m dealing with a lot lately, as I write a lot of annual marketing plans right now.
And the question is how much do you allocate. And I think it depends on a couple things. One is, what is your market look like. If digital is not performing as well, you may allocate a smaller percentage of your budget to digital advertising. But I think you’re missing the mark if you’re not allocating any dollars to digital.
To be honest, a lot of budgets include a big portion going to digital marketing these days. And I think that’s important, because it’s where people are finding you. We’re becoming more and more research driven as consumers. So if you’re not out there, you’re missing the mark. That being said, I don’t know that I can ever tell you how much you should spend on each thing.
I do know that there’s certain elements that I absolutely recommend. You should be spending money on your website. You should have a really great, mobile, responsive website. And if you don’t, you should be spending money on that. You should do some sort of search engine optimization, whether you’re teaching yourself online, and trying to figure it out. That’s not ideal for most business owners. They don’t have the time for that. So paying for that service might be smart. And I think paid search is huge. If you’re not doing it, I feel like you’re missing it, because it’s one of the easiest ways to get to the top of the search list. And that being said, you have to then figure out how to supplement your overall kind of regular digital plan, with traditional marketing. And how do you make the two work together? And how do you measure ROI? Because I think–
Yeah, without that element, then I mean we’re just tossing money at everything, and it’s as much as I can pull out of my pockets at a time, right?
Right. And it’s not always easy to track the traditional media. You can track through call tracking programs with phone numbers. You can always get reach numbers, in terms of how many households it was delivered to. So you have to take that into account. You also have to do your own work in the office of wherever it is that you work, to ask folks where they came from, how’d they hear about you, and do some of that qualitative measurement, as well as quantitative. And at the end of the day, is somebody coming to your website because you’ve been running ads? Or is somebody calling on your ad because they’ve been to your website? It’s hard to know the track. So I think just as much analytics that you can do with the information that you have, and the budget that you have, the better.
So you’re telling me there’s no silver bullet out there? I’m really looking for that.
Everyone always asks for that marketing silver bullet. And I know that we like pretty pictures in marketing. But there really isn’t.
It’s a lot of testing with bullets, rather than cannons, right?
And then figuring out what works, and running with it, which is why I like marketing myself.
I agree, it’s always an adventure.
It’s not a science.
Yeah, you really do have to kind of figure out what’s working, and make the adjustments to your plan overall, over time. The same thing as it’s always been, really.
Right, and it’s always good to get another opinion too, because we all have our own preferences.
Even I have to check my assumptions on things. Like I’m not a big fan of TV advertising. So whenever somebody’s excited about TV, I need to always get another opinion, or ask for successes to really check my assumptions.
You know that’s funny, actually, because while I may throw away my coupon books, I really like watching TV ads. And my wife hates them. She will always mute the TV, and that’s something she’s done since she was a kid. So I almost never get to hear the audio part of a TV ad. But it reaches me somehow. So I like the little story.
All right, Kelsey, so it’s that time of the show. And we’re going to ask you, what are your top three takeaways? Which should we remember from today?
Why I think we’ve covered balance in quite a bit of detail today. But really that’s my biggest suggestion for anybody trying to put together a marketing plan, is you’ve got to have a little bit of everything. Obviously you can’t put everything in that you’d ever want to do because nobody– most people don’t have all that money to throw at a marketing plan. But it’s important to make sure that you have a little bit of digital, little bit of traditional, to really create a well balanced plan so you’re not throwing yourself off kilter.
The second thing, I think, is once you have that plan, to put together a solid strategy around executing it. Not just copying and pasting whatever it is that you do in the newspaper, or on the radio, into Facebook, or paid search, but really tailoring your message for the tactics.
Lastly, through both qualitative and quantitative measures, tracking your return on investment. So that could be how many folks came into my business. It could be how many people purchased. How many phone calls or how many pages did I get it. It looks different for whatever tactic it is. But really defining what success is for yourself through those methods. And looking at industry standards helps too, so you can set some realistic expectations. And then keeping track of that, and measuring it over time, so that you have historical results.
Awesome takeaways there. Thank you so much for being on the show. I had a great time. And I learned a lot too.
Thanks for having me.