This blog post is written partly in a question and answer interview format. This step-by-step process is meant to make it easier to understand the transition from traditional (print) advertising to online (also known as digital) marketing. It also emphasizes the importance of this evolutionary change. Since I know my own experiences intimately (what I have gone through as both a consumer and a business owner), I am using myself as both the interviewer and interviewee in the Q and A section.
WHAT IS HAPPENING AND WHY
The world as we know it is going through a major transition from printing everything to digital (paperless) technologies. There are several reasons for this change from print to pixel.
• First is the green reason. It involves using less paper, having less waste and conserving resources. In fact, some businesses have a green or paperless policy. They frown on the use of paper and go to great lengths to minimize its use altogether.
• Second is technology. The computer and the Internet have begun to make this possibility into a reality. But this transition is not seamless. One area where this is a road filled with uncertainties is in the marketing & advertising industry.
• There is still a great deal of paper used in this industry. Although it is decreasing and there are options to use paper or go paperless in many of our daily activities, it is my opinion that the case to continue in the less-paper direction with all due diligence is a crucial one.
• Unfortunately, one of the major obstacles to going paperless is the generation of adults, considered baby boomers and older, who grew up and became educated without this technology. The height of sophistication was slide rules and pocket calculators. Now there are the Inbound Boomers to help with this transition.
• The process of thinking is very different for those of us born before desktops, laptops, iPhones, iPads, iPods and I don’t know what other ‘i’ things there will be. We think on paper. Our reality is based on doing and learning things by reading from and writing on paper not from a computer screen, keypad and mouse (or touch pad). It takes a focused and concerted effort to change one’s thought processing beyond ‘recycling one’s garbage’.
• None the less and for the reasons listed above, I think it is very important to have a discourse (this is where the Q and A format begins) to highlight where we are in the transition from print to pixel and the value of continuing as quickly as possible.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS FOR CONSUMERS:
Q: Do you have any phone books in your home?
A: I admit that I still have a few local ones but none of the large, cumbersome ones.
Q: If so, what do you use them for?
A: Primarily to gather dust but I hear they are good as pillows for high chairs, car seats if someone is short and can’t reach the petals or see above the dashboard and the latest designer furniture pictured here.
Q: How many times have you opened a phone book in the last year to find a phone number or locate a local business?
A: Once, maybe twice.
Q: Do you read the advertising circulars and magazines that are delivered weekly to your home by the post office?
Q: Or do you throw them away without reading them?
A: They are delivered by letter carrier between Wednesday and Friday and placed in our lobby. Within a day, they become a messy pile. The building super throws them away on Sunday for Monday garbage pickup.
Q: Do you collect discount coupon books and cut out retail coupons?
A: I love coupon books. In fact, when they arrive, I take most if not all of them so they do not end up in the trash. I hand them out in my neighborhood. Everyone loves when I do that. I have no patience to clip coupons but I do hear about people that do.
Q: How many times have you left coupons home or misplaced them so you were not able to use them when you needed them?
A: I always misplace the book coupons or other discount papers I receive.
Q: Do you have the plastic ID key chain tags that retailers give out?
A: Someone could write my biography based on the number and variety of the ID tags I have. In fact, CVS Pharmacy gives one the option of printing out a coupon or placing their weekly discount information on their ID tag so one never has to worry about losing a coupon. Other retailers should adopt that system too. It is a great digital, paperless move.
QUESTIONS FOR BUSINESS OWNERS:
Q: What techniques do you use to promote your business?
A: All online, ‘attraction’ and Inbound Marketing.
Q: What is the primary way your customers find you?
A: Networking, recommendations and referrals online and in-person.
Q: Do you advertise with traditional print media, print ads, coupons, etc?
A: No. But I know plenty of local businesses that do and I am startled by how much money they willingly spend to do so.
Q: Do you know where the circulars and magazines that you spend your advertising budget on go when they are delivered to postal residents in your community?
A: I know they go right into the garbage.
Q: Do you believe that if you keep using traditional methods of print media advertising, including direct mailings, that it will eventually pay off again when the economy improves?
A: I know that is NOT the case. Technology is changing the way consumers shop and businesses need to advertise. But many of my local business colleagues do not seem to understand this yet. Some times I consider sending out a postcard for the fun of it but the cost of printing and postage cool my enthusiasm.
Q: Do you know what the cost is per new customer based upon the system of advertising you are using?
A: I admit that I don’t use this tool religiously but I know it works and I recommend that clients use it. I also know that online marketing is much more affordable and has a much wider reach than traditional advertising unless you can afford an advertising spot on the SuperBowl.
Q: Do you have a trackable method for learning how your new customers find you?
A: Yes, the new online marketing technology programs have amazing features to assist business owners in following and recording the progress of their marketing activities.
Q: Do you think it is easiest and cheapest to use direct mail (letters and postcards) to contact existing customers and attract new ones?
A: I cringe every time I get another postcard or even letter in the mail from one of my community business colleagues. I know they think this is a reasonable and inexpensive way to advertise. It worked in the past. If only they would take that leap into the 21st Century, the new economy and online marketing to at least give it a try for a little while. They can always continue with traditional media too and compare the results.
Q: Are you afraid of the computer, the Internet and the new advertising & marketing technology?
A: Personally, I embrace it and I am fascinated by what is going on. But there are so many business owners who are terrified of using the new technology. Some barely know how to use a computer.
Q: Do you know what online marketing is and how it differs from traditional advertising in content, cost and coverage?
A: Because marketing and advertising are my business, I started to learn about the new technology about a year and a half ago. It was very challenging but essential for me. Therefore, I am now well versed in what online marketing is. It is the use of the computer, the Internet and a whole host of new programs to help businesses attract new customers. Just as customers have changed the way they shop, business owners have to change the way they advertise to meet their customers’ searching needs.
A: I also know that online marketing is very cost effective. In fact, it is the only way that many start up businesses can afford to advertise on a zero dollar budget. Print advertising is VERY expensive and it requires constant repetition for recognition. With online marketing, once you are on, you’re on. But you do want to update and tweak information there too.
A: Online marketing’s coverage is so much broader than print media. There is NO comparison.
Q: Are you familiar with Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?
A: Search Engine Optimization is something that Google has been using for years to help consumers find what they are looking for. Google also designed SEO so that if a business uses the right formula, keywords, etc. it will rank well (first place or at least the first page) when a consumer searches for what they want.
A: Local SEO is the latest and most exciting addition to the host of services and tools Google offers. Instead of a ‘global’ search where a customer is looking to purchase something by mail (for example) and it can come from anywhere, local SEO is community specific. It is designed for consumers to locate what they want in a specific community. It is for making local, face-to-face purchases.
Q: Do you know what ‘Google Places’ are as well as their significance in promoting your business?
A: Google has identified over 49,000,000 local businesses in the US. Only about 11% of these businesses have ‘claimed’ their Google Place. Claiming one’s Google Place is the first step in participating in local online marketing and broadening one’s reach better than any other technique.
Q: Have you claimed your Google Place? Is your business on the ‘seven pack’?
A: Yes, my company has claimed its Google Place. In the business categories I am listed under, I rank in the first seven listed and on the first page. This is both for my industry and geographic area. This is what is called the ‘seven pack’. (No it is not a free can of beer when you buy a six pack).
Q: Have you heard of Local Online Business Directories?
A: Local Online Business Directories are similar to print directories but they are dynamic, interactive, and can have visual and verbal information changed at any time. They also have links and can take you to other places. One of their primary features is reviews. They are the most attractive advertising aspect.
Q: Are you listed on Local Online Business Directories?
A: I am listed on over 70 directories because someone did it for me as a favor and did no know it is unnecessary and even appropriate to be listed on so many.
Q: Do you know how to get recommendations and use word of mouth on line?
A: Yes, there are programs designed to help businesses get recommendations from their website, e-mail, blog, etc. These type of recommendations ARE word of mouth online.
Q: Do you know how to convert your current customers into your sales force?
A: On line recommendations from loyal customers are the best selling tool a business can have.
Q: Did you know that national and regional corporations sometimes need to be advertised as local businesses?
A: Yes, when they have a local retail presence like a Subway, Dunkin Donut, CVS, etc. They are all part of your community’s retail landscape.