In this age of digital domination, businesses are having to change the way they conduct themselves. Social media is just one example of how the ways in which companies advertise themselves has been completely revolutionised. Increasingly, businesses are told to ensure that they have a ‘strong online presence’, and whilst this is undoubtedly good advice, more traditional marketing techniques are often being overlooked as a result.
Whilst gaining ‘likes’ on Facebook or ‘followers’ on Twitter can be a great way of tracking the success of a marketing campaign, it cannot, and should not replace offline marketing techniques. When used in isolation of each other, both can be effective, however when combined, the results simply speak for themselves.
Imagine for example that there are two restaurants in roughly the same location, selling the same style and quality of food, the only difference being their marketing campaigns. One has a presence on all the major social networking sites, but does little in the way of offline techniques and the second restaurant uses a combination of both. Which campaign do you think is likely to be more successful?
Before making your decision, consider the following example of an offline marketing technique. The latter restaurant owner has created a signature dish and through a field marketing agency has organised what is known as an ‘in-house promotion’. This would involve giving members of the public free samples of said signature dish in order to promote both the restaurant’s brand and reputation.
Interest is generated by offering the sample, first at popular locations in the local community, and then encouraging customers into the restaurant itself. Meals can then be offered at promotional prices, and providing that both the service and product is of a high standard, word of mouth will spread like wildfire.
This is where social networking finds its strength; the phrase ‘word of mouth’ takes on a far more substantial meaning. Once interest has been generated, people are far more likely to search for you on Facebook, mention you to their friends or ‘follow’ you on Twitter, where you can continue building customer/brand experience. Whilst this can arguably be achieved to some degree by using social networking in isolation, the process is considerably slower and far more luck is involved in its being successful.
The question is, if you’ve spent many years developing a brand and nurturing its reputation, would you really want to leave the marketing aspect of your business open to such fickle a thing as chance? The simple fact is that social networking is a fantastic marketing tool, when utilised to full effect. However, unless consumers are actually aware enough of your company’s brand and message to begin with, it is far less likely that they will care if you have a social media presence or not.
Offline marketing techniques focus on actual interactive experience between customer and brand, social media is merely a way to continue to strengthen this relationship.
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