Tuesday, March 23, 2010

 

How to integrate social and traditional marketing

I’ve heard this question three times in the past two weeks.  Companies are wondering how to not just build out their social media presence, but how to integrate it with the rest of their marketing strategy.

My advice?  Stop thinking about them as two different things.  Distinctions between social and “traditional” marketing are meaningless, or at least temporary.  Why?  Because your customer doesn’t care.

Your customer doesn’t differentiate between their social media time, their Internet time, their mobile time, and then their “traditional” media time.  In the real world, all of these experiences blend together, happen in rapid sequence, and often happen simultaneously.

Your customer experiences all of these things at different times and possibly on different platforms, but their impression of you, your products, and your brand is singular.  Their awareness, preference and action towards what you’re doing and selling is not divided between media platforms and marketing divisions.

Remember 10-12 years ago when your company created a separate Internet advertising department?  Even that feels a little quaint now.  Eventually, progressive brands realized that distinguishing between channels was contrary to the way their customers thought, created first & lasting impressions, and made decisions.  The same goes today for social media.

But if you’re still faced with the reality of separate teams or efforts managing your social marketing from everything else, take a moment to step back, forget about your internal divisions for a moment, and think about the customer.  What is she doing?  How is she interacting with your brand, with those that influence her, and with the critical decision and touchpoints that compel her to make a purchase decision?  How are you organizing your marketing strategy not by channel or platform, but by the purchase cycle she follows, as well as the information and sources she naturally gravitates towards at each stage of the research, discovery, preference, trial and purchase process?

I’m not saying you still don’t have to integrate how you manage your marketing.  I just think that when we talk about how to better manage cross-platform programs, perhaps we’re starting with the wrong question.

 


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