• Adam Whittaker

Never forget traditional marketing

Having run many workshops across the country, obviously a commonly recurring theme is the importance of social media. In the modern marketing world, Twitter, Facebook et al are fundamental to the promotional activity of any business, however they are not the be all and end all.

Things change…

There is an ever shifting landscape when it comes to marketing and communications. When working for the NHS many moons ago, our sexual health work had a definitive target audience and we realised that we had to change our approach. To broadcast our message to 15-24 year olds, we had to incorporate Facebook into our strategy. Since then the demographic has changed somewhat with an older age range using the platform, with Instagram and Snapchat the dominant force for the younger generation. In those days however, there was a definitive mix in our approach. Radio promotion, bus advertising, leafleting and street teams were employed alongside the online presence. It seems now though that new businesses in particular feel pressured into using social media as the major factor in their messaging, believing it to be some digital Holy Grail, which it isn’t.

Who are you trying to talk to?

In a recent consultation I undertook with a small charity who were looking to rebrand, over three quarters of respondents claimed that they were unaware of the activities of the organisation as they hadn’t seen a poster in their GP practice waiting room or community centre and hadn’t had anything pushed through the door. Although a fairly mixed audience, they tended to be a little older and this traditional means of delivery was still of great importance to them. And this is a critical factor in marketing – it all depends on your target audience. If I’m looking to engage with my 15 year old niece and her peers, I’d be all over Instagram but this becomes irrelevant if, for example, you work with the homeless. A mental health expert that I recently chatted to, who operates within that community, uses text messages to communicate with her clients. They may not have a smart phone but in most cases they have a pay as you go mobile, social media is irrelevant.

Social media is so fleeting, instantly discarded with a swipe or a scroll, that more and more people are looking for something tangible, something they can refer to at a later date. Your business Facebook page should be complimented by your offline activity – networking, meeting people, picking up the phone. Social media should never be the totality of your marketing plan rather a key element, a vehicle to promote your blogs, instructional videos or press releases (yes people still send them out!).

Where would you rather be?

In many delegates there appears an underlying fear that if they don’t jump on the social media bandwagon their business will get left behind. This is reinforced by the thinking that they also need to be on EVERY platform too, which is definitely not the case. Their working day is fractured by a need to check Likes and Follows, when their time could be better spent in their workshop, client’s office or working on their website.

When developing your marketing strategy and incorporating social media, remember:

  1. Pick the social media channels that work for you and your product

  2. Pick the platforms that suit your target audience

  3. Don’t forget traditional marketing methods. A poster could be more effective than a Facebook post