Smarter Marketing Blog

Getting Lost in the Digital World of Marketing but Staying Real


As a business owner, do you remember the first time you set up a social media account? It was probably a personal one where you exchanged jokes, ideas and pictures with friends and family.

As you grew more familiar with various platforms, you decided to start using social media for your business. Let’s face it everybody was talking about the digital world of marketing and how it enabled the measurement of marketing ROI. So why not?

Then it happened! You were consumed by the digital world and its trappings. As you started to read more and more blogs, they told you how to search for communities, build engagement figures and analyse authenticity scores, you got lost in the traffic (no pun intended).

Yep – managing your online presence became much more immersive all of a sudden. Everybody was caught up focusing on the tools and the numbers. We were all beginning to forget about people – the very people we wanted as customers.

Are you still operating in the real world or have you left us?

How do you know when you’ve become too immersed in the digital world? – score yourself out of 10, on the following scenarios:

  1. You unfollow your friends because they don’t re-post you or follow back
  2. You discuss your various online reputation scores when out socialising
  3. You curate recommendations, but don’t bother with them yourself
  4. You have been annoyed that your LinkedIn connection count stops at 500
  5. You don’t sell anything on social media because that’s not what it’s for
  6. You spend more time on redesigning your profiles than you do on advertising
  7. You spend a lot of time convincing people that they’ll miss the boat without digital
  8. You can quote most of your Google Analytic stats
  9. You love checking out new apps / tools / latest channels – and use them once
  10. You write posts about being immersed in the digital world (whoops)

How many are you guilty of? I have definitely been guilty of 5 of them in the past! However, in the last 8 months or so, we have reduced the number of digital channels we use and aligned the remaining ones with a specific function to reflect the ‘why’ of our business.

For example, we use twitter to keep abreast of all things marketing and share tips and timesavers with followers that may find them useful. Most of the curation is automated, but the sharing and follow-back is still a human decision.

You will notice that after 3 years on twitter, we still have a relatively low follower count but that is on purpose. Helping people (particularly SMEs), we believe, reflects the O’C&K values and builds our reputation. In other words, we want to be real to our clients and prospects. We have learnt that you can only be real if you are relevant, be it online or offline.

Entering the digital world is not the only marketing solution for every situation.

Sometimes when we’re networking at SME meet-ups, people don’t always see us as being real, especially when we start talking about an offline promotional mix (one of the four Ps – remember them?). Quite often people’s eyes become glazed over until we mention SEO, social media, content marketing, link building or growth hacking.

Of course, we have no problem with specialists per say, we use a lot of them ourselves. However, we have encountered many digital marketing gurus that don’t necessarily have a background (education or experience) in traditional marketing and communication. Their only solution is a digital one. Sometimes I just wonder if they are providing the best solution for a client, who might need more comprehensive, marketing communications advice. The ‘why in’ and not just the ‘how of’, the digital world.

Some of the same specialists argue that ‘traditional advertising is dead’, ‘inbound marketing is the only future’ or ‘social media is the only way to engage people’. Well, here’s our opinion on that – marketing hasn’t changed that much, mainly because people haven’t changed that much and the function of marketing in the future won’t change much either.

The agency (or guru) that does not provide you with a customised strategy, linked to your business objectives and supported by a range of marketing tactics – is probably just trying to sell you something. Depending on the business objective, product, brand or industry, different elements of the promotional mix will apply.

The real relationship is between marketing, communications and promotion.

Allow me to elaborate by way of background. One way of looking at marketing communications is through the prism of relationships. In marketing, the focus is on customer relations and in communications, the focus is on influencer relations, media relations, community relations and government relations.

Bear with me just a little longer – of the 4Ps (product, price, place and promotion) – promotion comprises Direct marketing; Personal selling; Sales promotion; Advertising and Publicity. In the digital world, these elements of promotion don’t change.

It’s just the tools and channels that are available right now, allow us to engage with people in a more relevant way. The challenge remains to choose which promotional tools to use, that will build the various relationships.

When using a mix of tools to engage an identified audience, professional marketing communications will ensure efficient and consistent messaging across all audiences and all channels. All that remains is to allocate different weights to each part of the promotional mix, based on business objectives.

Ask yourself, can our audience be best reached offline or online (or a little bit of both)? Based on your answer, you can then start to decide which promotional elements to use to engage them. To finish off this segment of the post, here are some examples of combined online and offline promotional activity.

  • Direct marketing: producing brochures / online newsletters to engage prospects directly
  • Advertising: creating PPC and AdWords campaigns to support offline ads
  • Personal selling: designing presentations, webinars and podcasts
  • Sales promotion: creating coupons, landing pages, lead magnets
  • Publicity: blogging and writing guest articles or capturing a publicity stunt on video

Tips and Timesavers

As a small business owner, you wear multiple hats, some of which are a better fit than others. It’s not unusual for business owners to feel uncomfortable with marketing. The growth of digital marketing has definitely added complexity and import, but also power to small business marketing.

Succeeding in the digital world means providing content that your audience wants, where and when they want it. Here are some tips in relation to content creation and its distribution.

Content creation addresses your messaging and the best way to communicate it:

  • Blog post
  • Video
  • Email
  • Audio
  • Whitepaper
  • Infographic
  • Presentation

Content distribution determines how you are going to reach your target audience:

  • Newsletter
  • RSS subscribers
  • Social networks
  • Email campaigns
  • Community groups
  • Forums / offline meet-ups
  • Live streaming / Podcasts
  • Print / promotional items
  • Workshops


There are many powerful tools and channels for communicating with people and building your business. Sticking to online or offline only, however, isn’t going to get the job done. Whether it’s traditional offline marketing or the use of digital, you need to do each well and ensure you’re using them both in your promotional mix.

Marketing is a type of communication – communication is one person talking to another

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K



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