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Businesses Play With Fire When They Stay Stuck in the Marketing Past

by Tom Ruwitch

A talented young digital marketer applied for a job at a publishing company and sent samples of his work.

He didn’t get the job, but he got a nice rejection email from the company’s sales manager.

“Thanks very much for sending us samples of your work. You’re very talented,” the sales manager said. “I feel your strength lies in film and digital, and our market responds to print.”

Hmmmm.

I don’t know the sales manager or his market. Maybe, just maybe, his market responds to print and not to digital.

But this sales manager reminds me of lots of marketers I’ve met over the years, marketers who have said:

“I don’t need a website. My customers find me through the Yellow Pages.”
“Email? My customers don’t like email.”

“Social media? That’s only for young people. My market responds to direct mail and phone calls.”

All of these people may as well have said: “I don’t know or understand digital marketing. I’m comfortable with what I know. I’ll stick with that.”

I have nothing against print advertising, direct mail, telephone calls and other “offline” marketing channels — as long as they work. In many cases, they can work. But it’s getting harder.

I also am not one of those guys who says, “You have to try this latest digital marketing channel because ‘everybody’ is killing it.’”

Social media, podcasting, paid search email and other digital media channels are not right for everyone.

But I’ve seen too many businesses fall behind because they’re stuck in old ways.

I’m friends with a guy who used to run an envelope business. He was so busy marketing his business the old way, searching for prospects who wanted to market their businesses the old way that he didn’t notice that email and other digital channels were killing his envelope business. Then it was too late, and he was out of business.

That guy who passed on a website and kept investing in the Yellow Pages? He’s out of business too.

Maybe the sales manager at the publishing house has tried digital marketing. Maybe he has devised great strategies, employed smart tactics and learned that his market truly responds only to print.

But I doubt it.

If I were in the sales manager’s shoes, I would hire that smart young digital marketer. I would tell that marketer not to dump print altogether. I would encourage that marketer to find ways to use digital channels to complement the print marketing — and vice versa.

I would require the marketer to set goals and measure results. That way, when I say either, “It worked” or “It didn’t work,” I’ll have data to support the claim.

But I’m not that sales manager. All I can do is hope the guy’s still in business five years from now.

Tom Ruwitch is the president and founder of MarketVolt, an interactive marketing firm. For more business-building marketing resources by Tom Ruwitch, go to MarketVolt.com/resources.

Submitted 23 days ago
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