The dynamics of mass market advertising are forever changed. We have to accept that.
According to a 2011 Pew Research Study, the Internet is slowly (but surely) closing in on television as the main source of national and international news for Americans. In 2010, the Internet SURPASSED television as the main source in news for people younger than 30 years old.
But this is just one indicator of a trend that, by now, should be all too obvious. Where the audience goes, so follows the advertising dollar.
What does this mean for your business and it’s online marketing efforts? One word: Opportunity.
Sure it was great when a Don Draper-ish character could come up with a catchy slogan, broadcast it on one of the big three networks, and feel confident every consumer that mattered received the message.
But there were cons to that approach as well. For one, very little room for testing and failure. You either spent big or you went home. What’s more…unless your product or service had mass market appeal, you were really left to your own devices in reaching your target demographic.
Response rates for direct mail are continuing to sink; where once a 2% rate was considered standard, now you’re lucky if you see a .5% response rate on a large direct mail effort.
So while we could mourn the loss of the golden age of marketing, the real winners will be those marketers who figure out how to capitalize on the shift in how consumers spend their time and gather their information.
How can you make sure your company is positioned to take advantage of this unavoidable trend?
- Don’t panic
Yes, the shift is unavoidable. But you have time. Your current marketing channels will still yield results, albeit at a decreasing return over the next few years. You don’t need to move 100% of your marketing budget over to online efforts immediately.
If you haven’t already reassessed the effectiveness of your company’s current marketing channels, now is the time. What trends are you seeing with respect to your overall marketing ROI? How does this break down by media outlet? Having knowledge of what’s going on will help you determine the next best step for your organization.
- Budget wisely
If you haven’t already been testing the waters for online marketing, now is the time to do so. You don’t have to move 100% of your budget over to online marketing. That would be fool hardy and impractical. However, wouldn’t it be just as foolish NOT to have a respectable investment placed in this channel — like now?What’s realistic? Well, companies don’t think twice about spending $20,000 on a direct mail piece, radio or billboard campaign, but when it comes to budgeting for online marketing efforts — such as landing page optimization, SEO content generation, PPC testing, or social media campaigns — these companies find it hard to spend even 1% of their annual marketing budget on these endeavors.I’m not saying to spend $20,000-$30,000 in online marketing efforts; that budget will depend on your company’s specific circumstance. But if you aren’t spending at least 10% now, then you need to really ask yourself and your team what your commitment is going to be for successfully growing your company now in and in the future.
- Establish measures and targets
Online marketing takes time to master. You may come out of the gate with a winner, you likely will not. But know this is a process of continuous improvement — like any marketing campaign — You will “Plan-Do-Check-Adjust”. You’ll test, you’ll learn, and you’ll get better at it. Establish targets and measures that are realistic for your initial efforts and in broadening the scope of those efforts.
- Engage a professional
Of course, we have a vested interest in making this recommendation. And, you still may be tempted to get an intern running on this project. Hey, they’re young, they’re on the internet all the time right? Go. Do. Internet Marketing. Then you can safely close your eyes and not have to learn this stuff. But engaging a professional online marketing agency ala Sanctuary Marketing Group will give your company the running head start it needs.
The benefits of hiring a professional firm to kick-off your online marketing strategy & execution?
- An online marketing firm is going to be accountable to results. (It’s easier to fire a company than a person AND every hour has to be justified).
- A professional will know what questions to ask and devise an online marketing strategy that makes the most sense for your company.
- A professional will have intimate knowledge of the tools & tactics used to earn online marketing success (we do this for many, many companies across an array of industries…we’ve seen it all).
- You can ramp up (or down) budgets without changing the quality of the services you ARE receiving.
- It’ll be cheaper and more effective than hiring a full time, in-house staffer (at least at first).
- You can (and should) ask them to TEACH you what their doing, why they’re doing it, and THEN how you can do this yourself.