Traditional vs. Online Marketing: What Contractors Should Know

We’ve preached, pontificated and proclaimed the importance of integrating your media strategies with a mix of traditional and online solutions. But this integrated strategy doesn’t mean “a little of this, a little of that,” as if you’re blindly picking from one camp or the other.

Sinking your time into cheap strategies that don’t reach prospects, or sinking your dollars into pricey platforms that don’t generate leads, is, let’s just say, “not the right direction.” It’s far better to choose wisely and develop an integrated plan you can sink your teeth into.

Wisdom begins with knowledge. So, how do we weigh options for slender marketing budgets? Let’s start by stating the obvious: Traditional and online media have different benefits and drawbacks.

Expectations Are Set

Traditional media covers the gamut from Direct Mail and billboard to print and electronic media. Traditional also includes yard signs, door hangers, even telemarketing and home shows. Basically, if marketers were using these tactics more than 10 years ago, it’s traditional marketing.

Upside: Traditional – as the name confirms – is established. People understand how traditional media works and what to expect. Oh, sure, you might watch a television ad and think, “that was weird.” But that would be about the content – some strange creative idea where maybe a weird dude was doing something weird. But you wouldn’t be watching a news program or network television, see it interrupted by a 30-second commercial break and ask, “What is that? A commercial? They use commercials on these shows? That’s so weird.”

With traditional, billboards are quite familiar. It’s not weird to see a newspaper ad. Radio ads – heard those before. You wouldn’t even think to ask, “How did they know I’d be in my car right now?”

On the other hand, online marketing weirds people out sometimes. Search histories and Facebook clicks give hints of your interests, and these silent cookies (or spies) are watching your every online move and delivering ads to your browser for the very thing you are seeking. Awesome for marketers, but again, it can be unsettling for your customers from a more traditional era.

So, pursue a workable mix of the new and old. Traditional can be used to add credibility and build your image and authority, even as your online marketing reaches people right where they are – and often for less cost.

Can Cost Be Countered?

For online marketing (which includes SEO, search engine advertising, banner ads, social media advertising, etc.), the upside far and away is the low-price options. Traditional can’t hold a candle to cost per click or to the extent of its reach. Plus, digital gives customers a direct means to respond to your offer. Furthermore, metrics are easy to measure, so you can find out what worked – and what flopped.

Here’s another takeaway. Online marketing lacks a physical presence, and that’s a missing piece that matters. On-screen, ads, news and posts are all competitively vying for your customers’ attention. “Pick me, pick me, pick me!” they scream. With traditional marketing, you can narrow the focus. You can create a physical presence that, lacking competitors, takes up your customers’ field of vision. 

Oh, and one other thing. Customer service is also a form of traditional marketing, having been around for a really long time – possibly since Og invented the wheel and Og’s neighbors brought it in for routine maintenance. Your in-person expertise, courtesy, thoroughness, problem-solving and follow-up after the service or installation puts a face on your marketing that the best online video can’t match.


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