Digital marketing? Traditional marketing? It’s all marketing.

Digital marketing? Traditional marketing? It’s all marketing.

The world is digital. Everything we do has a digital element, and marketing is no different. In fact, marketing has absorbed digital. This means that you’re not ‘doing digital marketing’ – you’re marketing in a digital world.

Further, your customers don’t distinguish between online and offline activity.

They engage with digital and non-digital platforms at the same time – and they expect consistent messaging and a seamless experience when switching between them.

And yet, there are many businesses in our industry that still treat digital and traditional marketing as two very different beasts.

Here’s why that doesn’t make sense:

  • TV is digitally delivered.
  • Newspapers have digital editions that are growing faster than print editions ever did.
  • Radio is streamed.
  • Outdoor advertising is actually digital display advertising.
  • Direct mail is designed and distributed using digital tools.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to isolate what’s digital and what isn’t.

But you shouldn’t focus on the platforms anyway.

Solutions are solutions – digital or not. They’re all a means to an end: creating value for customers, building communities and trust, branding yourself through stories, crafting messaging that stands for something, and creating a movement.

Ultimately, you should use any and all tools to better understand your customers. And you have a better chance of achieving this if you have multiple channels in your marketing mix. Channels that are integrated into holistic, 360-degree (ha ha!) campaigns that use different tools to do different things, at different stages, for different audience segments.

By separating them, you limit your options. It’s like labelling yourself an ‘Excel accountant’. When I see that, I make assumptions; the biggest being that you have no idea what you’re doing and have no permission to play in this space.

You don’t need a “digital strategy”.

Digital strategies focus your attention on the wrong things: the tools.

You need a digital transformation strategy that’s enabled by digital tools. That strategy should focus on your customer; on developing your brand voice consistently and communicating effectively across all platforms and devices.

Embrace any channel that gives you an opportunity to reach and engage with your audience. That’s where success lies: in balanced, connected, cross-channel communication. Your customers don’t distinguish between traditional and online tools. Neither should you.

Last word

Using digital tools does not make you innovative. Innovation is practical. It means showing up when your customers need you to, on the platforms that they’re already using, so that they can become better versions of themselves.

Stop thinking digital marketing. Start thinking media neutrality. Aim for diversity, for effectiveness, and stop giving things names. Just do the things.