“Why are we spending billions on outdoor media when half of drivers aren’t even looking at the f#%king road—they’re too busy texting?!” Gary Vaynerchuk, a successful retailer turned new media marketing guru, asked this very question in a recent keynote speech. And he’s right. Fueled by the growth of the Internet and the popularity of new technologies like tablets and smartphones, the number of eyeballs viewing traditional media channels—billboards, direct mail, print ads, TV, etc.—is on the decline, and the effectiveness of so called traditional advertising and marketing strategies is going downhill with it.
While small businesses can rely on referrals and word-of-mouth marketing to pay the bills, larger companies or contractors trying to take things to the next level need to find new ways to profitably generate leads and sales. The traditional marketing strategies of the past no longer produce an acceptable return. Continue to hang onto what “you’ve always done” and 2013 is going to be a rough year. Now is the time to embrace online marketing and go “all in” with the Web.
Why Traditional Advertising Is Dying
Three things are killing traditional media, and traditional advertising and marketing strategies along with it. First, you have a fracturing of the media landscape. In the 1940s and 1950s, there were three TV channels. Today, most homes have more than 1,000—and this doesn’t include TV alternatives such as YouTube, Hulu, etc. I couldn’t find stats on the number of radio stations in the ‘40s and ‘50s, but there couldn’t have been more than a handful—whereas in 1985, there were more than 10,000. Today, with satellite radio and online music alternatives such as Pandora and Spotify, there must be the equivalent of more than 1 million radio stations. At the same time, the cost of advertising has, for the most part, only increased.
Take a look at this:
On the left, in Figure 1, you have advertising costs for TV graphed over time. On the right, in Figure 2, you have the average minutes households spend watching TV graphed over time.
See the problem?
The media landscape has fractured into a millions of tiny niches. Instead of having millions of eyeballs in a handful of places, today you have a handful of eyeballs viewing content distributed by millions of different channels. As a result, it’s virtually impossible to cost-effectively put your message (your ad) in front of the same number of people you could in the past.
The second thing that’s killing the return derived from traditional advertising and marketing strategies is technology. Entire businesses have been built to shield consumers from advertising. On TV, you have technologies such as TiVo and DVR which allow viewers to skip over advertisements. Caller ID protects you from unwanted calls from people or companies you don’t know (and don’t want to know!). Spam filters prevent you from receiving unwanted emails (although no spam filter seems to prevent overseas SEO people from flooding your inbox with promises of top rankings on Google!). Most people are sick of being interrupted by advertising and marketing, and today, technology exists that allows them to avoid much of it.
The final thing killing traditional advertising and marketing is the Web. Before the Internet, if you had to replace your roof and wanted to educate yourself about your options, you had to ask a neighbor, visit the library to find a book, or talk to a local roofing company. Today, you can pull out your phone or fire up your laptop and ask Google! You search, “what is the most durable type of roofing material” and you get a plethora of options to choose from—just take a look at the screenshot on the right.
Before the Web, if you were in a business with any level of technical complexity, you could be pretty certain that, at some point, consumers would call or visit you to get an education before making a buying decision. With the Internet, you’re no longer a required part of the education process. Consumers today have a world of information instantly available at their fingertips, and they’re not afraid to use it! This is why it’s more important than ever to create Web-based content to educate your consumers, so that they find you when they search and NOT your competitors!
The Shift from Outbound to Inbound Marketing
Traditional advertising methods—things like direct mail, magazine ads, radio, and TV— could best be described as outbound marketing or interruption marketing strategies. The Super Bowl aside, when is the last time you actually looked forward to a show being interrupted by an advertisement. How about NEVER! Consumers are sick and tired of being interrupted by ads—especially when most of the ads are completely irrelevant to the individual (e.g. Summer’s Eve commercials being seen by a 50-year-old single guy!). Outbound marketing is despised and it is quickly being replaced by inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is an umbrella term used to refer to advertising strategies such as pay per click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO). The reason inbound marketing is so much more effective is because it places your business in front of consumers at the exact moment of interest (and sometimes buying intent). It also puts the consumer in the driver’s seat—giving them control—and it’s easy and intuitive.
The Rise of Content Marketing
The most popular forms of inbound marketing rely heavily on what is becoming known as ‘content marketing.’ According to Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing refers to creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action. In a nutshell, content marketing is a way to communicate with and educate your prospective customers without reverting into a sales pitch. Today’s consumers want to buy, NOT be sold to. By creating relevant, educational content designed to help your prospects make better decisions, you will naturally find your website rising to the top of Google for various keyword searches related to your business.
Here’s a simple example.
Have you ever wondered whether yellow page print advertising is worth it? Of course you have! Well, so have a lot of other remodeling companies. If you go to Google and do a search for a keyword phrase like, “is yellow page advertising still effective”, look what comes up – a case study (content) created by me and Blue Corona. You see, we track advertising for about a hundred different companies—this includes a fair number of print yellow page ads. Seeing that we track advertising, people started to call us to bend our ear on whether they should renew their print yellow page ads or discontinue in favor of testing something new. I figured (correctly) that the people calling us represented a small fraction of those actually asking the question, so I created a case study detailing the print yellow page advertising results from one of our clients (with the client’s permission, of course).
Here’s another example.
Marcus Sheridan is one of the owners of River Pools and Spas. One of the most common questions he got daily was, “what does a fiberglass pool cost?” He thought about creating a blog post about the topic, but worried he might be undercut by his competitors. Against conventional wisdom, he went ahead and wrote the post anyway.
Today, that post ranks number one on Google for the dozens of related search queries including “how much does a fiberglass pool cost?” Marcus attributes over a million dollars in business to inquiries he received as a result of this post. How much time do you think he spends these days worried about his competition? Not much.
Traditional marketing strategies don’t deliver the results they once did (although many companies don’t even realize this because they aren’t accurately tracking their advertising and marketing!). A new marketing landscape is emerging and at the center is the World Wide Web. Nimble, often young, companies fully embracing the Web and its marketing potential are prospering like never before (even with the current economic conditions). Other companies – those unable or unwilling to change and adapt – are sucking wind. These stodgy companies, set in the ways of yesteryear, can’t seem to kill the bear that is Internet marketing. Some won’t be here this time next year.
It’s adapt or die. What will you do in 2013?
Are you going to slay the bear, that is figuring out how to use the web to take your business to new heights, or are you going to lay down and die?
Whether you go it alone or make us your Anthony Hopkins, a change must be made!
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
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