We can all acknowledge how much marketing has changed over the past 10 years with the advent of online and social media marketing. Some would argue that this change is so fundamental that the essential nature has completely and utterly transformed. That the “push” or sales-driven marketing of the past has now been replaced by the “pull” or interest driven marketing of today.
If this is true it means that direct marketing is dead or at least dying in a world dominated by the likes of Google, Microsoft et al. The problem with this argument is that like all half-truths the temptation is to exaggerate.
The fact remains that in order to create new customers in the future you have to communicate with someone who is currently a stranger to you. Obviously we have the capability today to build online presence and social media networking that can attract some prospects to us but this ignores the fact that in a very, very busy world most will not have the time or inclination to find us (no matter how great we think our products or services are).
Maybe some individuals offer something so completely new and exciting that the world and their brother are beating a path to our door to buy what we have to offer. Going “viral” is the dream.
However most of us mortals still have to go out and find our prospects by using all the traditional tools of the marketing mix IN ADDITION TO using the new, web-enabled channels that present such exciting prospects.
I think that sometimes the distinction between something interesting and the imperative to sell can be confused. I may spend my entire day writing interesting stuff and having people comment “likes” and making new connections but does that bring anything new to the bottom line?
The truth is that despite having to survive higher costs and stricter laws, the direct marketing channels of telephone, mail, and email remain vital resources in the marketer’s toolkit.
You can argue that they need to be complemented with social media presence and activity, a properly designed, configured and inter-connected web site, and restructured to fit into the wider context of these new, media channels. This is true but dead they certainly are not and especially for the B2B marketer, the “push” approach of getting the sales message across to new prospects remains vitally important.
To mix my metaphors whereas before we were mostly hunters, now we have to learn to be hunters and fishermen.
The bottom line is results and measurability. If mixing online with a more traditional approach makes for higher sales and a
more profitable company then all the better. Above all let outcomes be the measure of your marketing efforts.
If that is the case I contend that as enticing as the new media may sound, the “outbound” marketing approach will never be completely replaced by online networking no matter how cleverly designed the communication strategy may be.