Monday, March 7, 2011

The Myth of Dead Media

I keep hearing it from Internet marketing ‘gurus,’ and I’m sure you do too: Traditional media are dead.

Yes, the Internet and its accompanying technologies are powerful. They’re fun. And they can be wildly effective. There’s no question the uses of new technologies and the audiences they attract are growing at ever-increasing speeds. Only someone living in a cave would argue against these facts.

But this doesn’t mean old, low-tech media are dead. Not by a long shot. In fact, these changes may just make for some unique and potent uses of these long-standing marketing vehicles.

Consider these nuggets from our history: When TV came around, radio was surely on its way out, right? Apparently not. The fax machine was going to put a serious hurt on the overnight delivery business. Hmmm…seems FedEx, UPS, and others are doing just fine. And what about email? There’s the end to hard copy snail mail. Oh, wait! My snail mail campaigns are still beating email for response rate and profits.

The bottom line is this: there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all answer to the best vehicles for us to use to carry our messages to our audiences. Use the Internet. Use other technologies. Test them just as you do any other medium for your messages. But make sure you’re not walking past willing prospects in the process by completely missing the places they read, socialize, look for answers, and make their purchases if they are not completely immersed in our techno-society. You may be surprised to find unclaimed territory where you can make a meaningful impact on your audience. Instead of simply following the hype, step back and do a little research of your own. As always, make sure you include your team in these efforts. Their insights can be invaluable.

Here’s to your on- and off-line marketing success!

Bryan Waldon Pope


  1. Hey Bryan, I always appreciate your opinions and input. I'm struggling with this right now. At SEMA shows over the past 8 years (we are in automotive performance here at STS Turbo) there has been an entire hall devoted to magazines that you can pick up for free at the show (literally around 400 different mags). This last year, there were about 75. 50% of the bins were empty (and they didn't have that many bins out) - in fact the whole hall was just weird compared to previous years.

    I know that I don't ever turn to magazines anymore for info about products, just too easy to get more info than you can digest in 30 seconds than to wait for next months car mag to get here to see if there is anything of interest. It doens't seem like the magazines are the 'bang for the buck' that they used to be. Apparently they aren't adjusting their prices for ad space either so spending $2k for an ad doesn't give ROI confidence when compared to what you can get for $2k on the internet. You can hire a full time guy to go promote you on the internet for a month for what that ad will cost you.

    I still see people call from reading posts on forums from 7-8 years ago. When was the last time somebody called from an ad in a magazine from nearly a decade past? Seems like magazine ads need to come down dramatically in price and the mags need to be web based so those ads can be permanent and at a reasonable cost. Just my 2 cents.

    Rick Squires

  2. I find it rather interesting we keep moving to where "hype" drives us instead of where "productivity" drives us. Internet Marketing feels to many as one of those "if-we-dont-do-it-well-miss-out" frenzies. There are still many successful businesses who are running today without a web-site.

    Case in point: There is a small acoustic guitar store in Provo, UT called "The Great Salt Lake Guitar Co.". They don't have a self-established web presence (just directory listings), but the owner has been successful enough in the past couple of years to be able to hand control of the store reins to his son freeing up his luthiering work. They focus primarily on "Word-Of-Mouth" campaigns and are quite successful at it.

    Are they the exception? Possibly, but it does go back to your original point. Take time to analyze what your company needs to be doing instead of panicking because some band-wagoner has told you this is the "next best thing".

    Heck if the "next best thing" was always the way to go I wouldn't have had to give up my betamax, laser-disc, or HD-DVD players.

  3. Rick, I hear you loud and clear! Your points are completely valid, and you have a huge opportunity online (as most everyone else does). My point is simply that throwing away everything that isn't online carte blanche is a bad idea.

    Here are just two thoughts specific to your industry:

    1.) If you could have one-on-one contact by direct mail with people you know are seeking a better turbo system for a specific vehicle, could it make sense to use direct mail? If the process of arriving at highly motivated prospects was right, it just might. This is a place the online and offline worlds can work together. I was just reading a report this morning that shows that for B-2-C sales, direct mail is still outperforming email as a delivery method to qualified prospects. Test, test, test!

    2.) I have to believe enthusiasts who follow innovators like you are still listening to the radio. Could it make sense for you to be a regular expert on turbo systems for those programs? Sure, many of them have moved online. You have the opportunity to create a podcast or host an online radio program as well; but there are content-hungry operators out there who have existing listeners you can capitalize on.

    I'm in no wise saying the Internet shouldn't be a vehicle used by most every business. It should. I'm just seeing too many people throw out the baby with the bathwater as they rush to grab their piece of cyberspace.

  4. dellojoio--

    I think we're on the same page. It's all about thinking and not acting blindly. I appreciate your choice of terms when you refer to hype driving us instead of productivity. Productivity is where it's at. At the end of the day, do we really care which vehicles are performing for us in whatever we're working to accomplish? Not really. We're looking for results, and the place from which those results come is the place to be.

    I always appreciate your insights.