Outbound/inbound, digital/traditional, push/pull, emerging/ tried-and-true

Marketing tools – seems like just when you choose your marketing mix, something new emerges – and it’s generally digital. But we’re here to remind you that traditional marketing tools are still around, they’re still popular, and they can work with digital marketing to reach your target audience.

This is the first in a series of blogs in which we’re going to look at choosing and using marketing tools strategically.

Marketing Toolbox 2014: What Should You Use???

Cross-channel Marketing: Integrate, Don’t Eliminate

The traditional versus digital marketing discussion can overshadow the more important discussion about content. Marketing tools offer multiple ways to convey a consistent, coherent message.

As marketing consultants, we need to understand all the available tools, so we can advise clients not only how to use them, but whether they make sense for them at all. We’ve had many conversations that go like this:

Client: “I need a facebook page.”
Us: “Why?”
Client: “I don’t know, doesn’t everyone have one?”
Us: “Are your clients on facebook? Your competitors?”
Client: “I don’t know.”
Us:  “What will you post on facebook?”
Client: “I don’t know.”

Our feeling is that it doesn’t make sense to start with any marketing tool until you’ve done enough research to ensure that your investment of time, effort and budget will  be worthwhile. This series of blog posts will help you make that determination.


Marketing_infographicX20034% of marketers did not have a “documented plan” in 2013. Companies with fewer than 50 employees were least likely to have a plan. In addition 22.5% of respondents indicated they don’t have “measurable marketing goals.”  Remember, optimizing the mix of marketing tools involves doing the foundation work needed to understand your audience and how, when, and where it’s best to reach them and then developing a marketing plan that aims for 360 degree reach. Integrating traditional and digital marketing gives you more options for optimizing the opportunity for push and pull reach.

Which Marketing Tools are Marketers Using?

A recent survey, How Are Marketing Departments Allocating Budgets?, has us thinking about whether we marketers might be overlooking legacy marketing tools by thinking of them as passe, rather than adding tools to the marketing mix strategically. Or, maybe we’re trying to mix and match to see what works, sometimes without an overall plan.

The survey asked respondents whether budgets for specific tools would Increase, Decrease, or Stay the Same. Another choice was Not Applicable (NA) or Don’t Know.

We have to assume that since the respondents are marketers, “Not Applicable” is far more represented than “Don’t Know.” At least we hope so, because if marketers  “don’t know” whether a tool is being used, it could mean that they aren’t involved in configuring their own budgets or implementing marketing strategies. Uh oh.

Here’s the breakdown of marketing tool usage with 25% more marketers responding “Increased” and the combined “Decrease” plus “NA or Don’t Know.”

Table 1: Marketing Tools and Percentage of Marketers Reporting Increased and Decreased/NA/Don’t Know Budgets.

  Increase   Decrease/NA/Don’t Know
  Email marketing   64%   Product placement   76%
  Web site   69%   Telemarketing   70%
  Social media marketing   63%   Place-based advertising   70%
  SEO/paid search/Google AdWords   58%   Teleprospecting   53%
  Online display ads   51%   Print ads   53%
  Live events/trade shows   26%   Direct mail   41%
  Mobile marketing   48%   Mobile marketing   27%
  Direct mail   25%   Live events/tradeshows   35%

Marketing tools in the 25%-50% range in both categories in Table 1 were live events/tradeshows, direct mail, and mobile marketing. What could this mean? Perhaps these tools are more important or less important on an industry-by-industry basis or maybe their relative usefulness is being adjusted within a narrow range as other marketing tools are integrated or tested. Add to this the fact that roughly a quarter to a third of marketers allocated the same budget for live events/tradeshows (39%), direct mail (33%), and mobile marketing (26%), the takeaway may be that marketers try these tools and, if the tools work, marketers stick with them.

Marketing tools in the 51% and up range do break down clearly, with digitally based tactics increasing and traditional tactics decreasing.

Let’s break out the combined Decreased/NA/Don’t Know category:

Table 2: Percentage of Marketers Categorizing Marketing Tools as Not Applicable or Don’t Know

  Tool   N/A or don’t know   Decrease
  Email marketing   4%   2%
  Web site   5%   2%
  Social media marketing   10%   2%
  SEO/Paid search/Google AdWords   12%   4%
  Online display ads   16%   6%
  Live events/trade shows   23%   12%
  Mobile marketing   25%   2%
  Direct mail   26%   15%
  Print ads   29%   24%
  Teleprospecting   46%   7%
  Place-based advertising   58%   12%
  Telemarketing/radio ad   59%   11%
  Product placement   70%   6%

Is it a coincidence that the “Not Applicable” category is weighted towards traditional marketing tools? Is that a good idea?

Just Like in an Investment Strategy You Have to Diversify!

The rule of seven said that a prospect needed to see or hear your marketing message seven times before the message would be absorbed. Today, with a constant flow of information, that number may be higher. So how do you know the best way to get your message through to the right people? Start by looking at your target audience, and compare the demographics with those of the users of different media. Then, get your hands dirty and dig! Find out specifically (and it’s not that hard to do) where your prospects, customers, competitors and industry thought leaders are getting information, and make sure your business is using those channels.

For more information, contact us or visit our blog regularly. Some other great sources are:




Our upcoming series of blogs explores marketing tools and how and when to use them.

Contact us to find out how we can help you develop a marketing plan that works for your business!