In a recent “Mr. Marketing” column at the San Diego Union Tribune, Rob Weinberg highlighted the frequent need for a counterbalance between digital marketing and advertisements in other media. It is a fairly basic premise, but what is interesting is that it is framed in a way that reaches out to people who rely on digital marketing only, but it could have taken the exact opposite approach.
Of course, it made sense for Weinberg to start by expressing his frustration with people whose immediate impulse is always to advertise via social media. In the year 2020, it is simply a lot easier to find examples of people who over-rely on digital marketing, to the exclusion of other alternatives. But this isn’t to say that there aren’t still people who go the other direction and fail to recognize the value of digital marketing for their own businesses.
As ubiquitous as the internet is, we still tend to see it as a method of communication that is global first, and local only as an afterthought. This perception isn’t entirely unfounded. Purely local communities do exist online, but they are quite rare, and most web users don’t give much thought to whether the people they’re talking to are next door in Los Angeles, or half a world away in Timbuktu.
If both of those locations could be a source of viable customers for your online business, then it’s only natural that you might get hung up on digital marketing strategies. But if you run a brick-and-mortar store and you need to attract customers from Los Angeles in particular, it’s equally natural for you to think that digital marketing has no value for you, compared to advertising in local publications and on local television.
But if I had to compare these two assumptions, I’d say that the latter is probably more misguided. In the first place, increasingly sophisticated algorithms are making it easier to target local social media users based on public data and IP address. And while the growing prevalence of VPNs might cut into that trend in the near future, there will always be significant numbers of people who freely identify themselves as local consumers, and thus open their arms to local digital marketing campaigns.
In the second place, a serious online presence helps to expand on the benefits of marketing you’ve channeled through other media. Even if you decline to run a digital marketing campaign that focuses on your local area, it’s not going to stop your established customers from wanting to interact with your business online. The more you indulge that impulse and engage with those customers, the more they will pass your marketing messages along to other local friends and followers.
A single-minded approach to marketing is never a good thing. There are legitimate reasons to put your focus on one type of media instead of another. But generally speaking, if you cut yourself off from any of those other alternatives, you are cutting yourself off from potential sales, as well as potential displays of brand loyalty.
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