Online or Offline? Why not BOTH…
I receive emails daily from Internet Marketers all of whom are pushing the Internet as THE medium that works and where you should be today.
Well, they are right … to a point anyway!
There is no other medium like the Internet for reaching out to a global community at very low cost. In fact, it’s a wonderful medium for anyone looking to start up a new business, especially if you have a limited budget – and of course, it’s a must for those with an established business.
However, it is not the only medium you should be using to grow your income or a business.
Studies have shown that, for many businesses, the Internet only allows you to reach 20% of your potential audience. (Of course, it is much higher if you are reaching out to Internet Marketers because they are fully “online” focused.)
The question you have to ask yourself is whether you should place all your focus on Internet marketing on the basis that you can reach your potential audience that way at reasonable cost.
There has been a huge shift in marketing over the past few years, driven by the impact the Internet has had on our society.
Other offline mediums still work no matter what the Internet “gurus” tell you.
Here’s a quick guide to other mediums to keep everything in perspective :-
OFF THE PAGE DIRECT RESPONSE ADVERTISING (MAGAZINES, NEWSPAPERS ETC)
This is not working as well as it did 10 years ago, even for those with significant experience.
However, some promoters are still achieving very good results by taking an integrated approach, one which utilizes the medium to attract attention and then steers buyers to a call center or web page rather than the old fashioned “cut this out and send it to” approach.
In some instances, these promoters are getting as high as 70% of their orders online.
Today’s buyers are clearly very savvy and want more info on a product before they buy and so check it out online. Integration is therefore key – even if it’s only a classified you are running.
As an new customer acquisition medium, direct mail has also dwindled although that is partially because the number of vibrant lists has diminished.
Many marketers (especially online marketers) call it an expensive medium yet that is a matter of semantics – “nothing is expensive if it produces positive results”.
Direct Mail still works!
I recently spoke to a group who generated 800+ sales over a 4 week period from a direct mail-driven offer off one list. By comparison, most online marketers rely on multiple affiliates to generate that sort of volume.
The reason is simple:- consumers in many sectors are still wary about shopping online yet feel comfortable when they can “touch and feel” an offer, especially if its coming from a trusted source and can then order via the mail or telephone (and today, online as well).
Direct mail as a customer relationship tool – well that is vastly different. If you have an established relationship with someone, then sending them a direct mail piece is always going to get more attention than an email. It’s why banks and telcos typically still use direct mail as their primary customer communication medium.
The reason:- IT WILL GET DELIVERED (well, in most countries anyway).
There is no guarantee anymore that emails will get delivered. With snail mail, the recipient has to handle it physically before ditching it, not like with email where you can set filters to block, divert, or ignore certain communications.)
Internet Gurus have a penchant for saying things like “I generate sales of $5 million a year online”. That’s terrific and well done to them. I also know many “direct mail” oriented direct marketers who are doing $10- $30 million a year offline.
My point – there’s still a place for direct mail even if it’s not as fashionable!
This is a wonderful medium WHEN you have an established relationship with a consumer or business.
As a new customer acquisition medium, it is no longer an effective tool in the B2C sector due to DNC (Do Not Call) lists even though some promoters persevere.
The same limitations do not apply on the B2B front but again, there are issues which need to be addressed.
As some outbound operators in competitive sectors which all utilize the same approach find, it is demoralizing when 8 out of 10 calls you make result in “I told you last time, don’t call me” – on their very first call! Yes, their competitors had already called and so they had no hope when they finally got to that point.
Clearly, to make outbound telesales work, you need to have either a past relationship or a unique script, one which gets you past the receptionist with ease and has the recipient at the other end wanting to know more. Unfortunately, few promoters know how to structure scripts that can achieve this.
RADIO AND TELEVISION
Many television and radio stations have suffered a decline in adverting revenues as well, but they are still very effective advertising mediums – for branding as well as generating activity.
For example, if you are a car dealer running an open day offering “test drives” on a new release, then an announcement on Saturday morning radio as people are driving around looking for a new car is a wonderful way to pull in those punters. You can’t use the Internet anywhere near as effectively to reach out to this “un-identified” market!
The same applies to a golf or tennis tournament which people are watching live on television. It’s a great their attention!
The same principle as any medium applies – “it’s not about the cost, it’s the result that matters”!
In summary, you need to keep an open mind about your business and not get taken in by hype that the Internet is the ONLY marketing medium to focus on.
I deal with many direct marketers who would “die” if they relied on the Internet, I know others whose business is built around a web site but take 80% or more of their sales via the phone. You simply cannot say there is “one size fits all” as many Internet marketing products project.
The key is to test everything and see which mediums work best for you!