Many companies are struggling with having to reduce their marketing budget as they look to the year ahead. As they reduce expenditures, either by line item or categories as a whole, many ponder whether they should forgo their traditional marketing expenditures and instead put their budget towards Internet marketing strategies instead. The answer is a resounding "maybe".
While internet marketing appears to be a more predominant player in many companies' budgets, there is still room for traditional marketing efforts as well; the two are not mutually exclusive. In order to determine if you as an organization should forgo traditional marketing altogether, you need to look at your target audience and where they currently reside. Is your target demographic almost exclusively online? If so, you should perhaps target your efforts almost exclusively towards digital marketing.
Does your ideal client cover a wide range of demographics? Then perhaps you should consider diversifying your efforts between both traditional and digital, and make sure that the efforts are well balanced and support one another, not working in isolation from each other.
What if you're not sure how stable your marketing budget is for the upcoming year, or the service or product you're representing change frequently and require that your marketing efforts be fluid and dynamic as well? If that is the case, you may want to consider dedicating most of your budget to internet marketing strategies instead. The reason? Digital marketing efforts are much easier to increase, decrease, change or stop altogether as compared to more traditional methods.
Think for a moment about print marketing. Whether your print marketing includes a daily newspaper or a monthly magazine ad, there are lead times and print runs to consider. Once those efforts have been committed to print, it's difficult to stop. The same can be said for TV, radio, Yellow Pages (the print version) and billboards.
However, for most companies, the best strategy is a mix of both; the percentages to each can be dictated by your own company's needs, budget, flexibility and demographic. A good marketing mix should be viewed in a fashion similar to an investment portfolio; a mix of aggressive, moderate and conservative efforts. From a fiscal standpoint, that might mean a few things. One could be the cost of the marketing strategy versus the ability to directly correlate ROI or return on investment. Some forms of marketing easily lend itself to this, such as print marketing with tracking codes. Pay-per-click can also help with this direct correlation.
Other strategies may be more difficult or subjective to determine, such as social media, natural search rankings, or trade shows/word-of-mouth efforts. Intuitively you know they are effective, but directly attributing the costs of the efforts to direct results can be challenging. Baseline measurements can help see a pattern of success, but clear results may be difficult to defend.
So should internet marketing replace traditional marketing in your company's budget? There is no wrong or right answer here. The bottom line is results, not matter how they're obtained.