You Don’t Always Need 100 Million Dollars or 100 Years for Traditional Advertising to Work


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First, a caveat: I’m a big fan of Brian Clark and his Copyblogger brand, so this post isn’t a “dig” – more an alternative point of view.

Over at Copyblogger, Brian recently posted this graphic:

Traditional Advertising Works Great ...

Like this graphic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Since Brian is in the content marketing arena (and been very successful in it), it’s understandable why he posted this. Since social media became more mainstream, traditional advertising has long been the brunt of points of view that it’s on its way out.

And it may well be – just not at this moment in time.

While there’s no doubting that social media can offer a much better return as far as in-depth analysis goes on campaigns, investments and success metrics, it’s missing the point a little to say this is where all advertising success happens.

While Pepsi may have switched their $20 million ad budget to social media for at the Superbowl, the majority of advertisement at that event still comes from TV slots. And, looking at the results of the Pepsi social media experiment, perhaps that will continue for the foreseeable future.

The Traditional Advertising Effect

Perhaps the biggest problem is what exactly counts for traditional advertising? With the blurring of the lines between media, whether that be social, print, mobile or TV, it can be confusing to lock down what’s as new media and what’s classed as traditional.

For myself, traditional covers TV, print, direct mail and radio, although email marketing could be seen as traditional too, since it’s now been around so long.

With that in mind, here are some examples of why you don’t need the 100 years or 100 million dollars from the Copyblogger graphic.

Elle Magazine

Perhaps traditional advertising’s natural habitat, magazine ads still make up a huge amount of the advertising budget for brands. And when you look at something like Elle Magazine, it’s easy to see why.

Elle encourages some of the smartest advertising out there, due to its mix of editorial content and related ads opposite the content. A perfect example is the image below (taken from baekdal):

Elle advertising

Immediately you can see how the fashion items being written about look when worn and, for any fashion-conscious person, you can never argue with seeing your new love in action.

It’s this kind of approach that saw advertising spend with Elle rise by over 12% last year. And advertisers don’t buy new ads unless their product campaigns – and, therefore sales – are successful.

Laconia Development

San Diego agency Castle Advertising share many success stories on their website, but one that stands out is their campaign for Laconia Development, a local residential developer.

Laconia’s goal was to sell the remaining units on an urban neighbourhood property, but they were struggling to do so due to the economy and slow real estate sales in general. Castle’s brief was to generate awareness and pre-qualified registrations for a one-day sales event.

Thanks to a strategy that included radio, TV, building banners and email marketing, as well as full-page ads in local publications and unique phone number tracking, the results were impressive: 70% of the units were sold, with 200 registrations pre-sale at a cost of less than $500 per registration.

James Ready Beer

If there’s one market that’s hugely competitive, it’s the beer market (just look at how much is spent by the likes of Budweiser on brand messaging and sponsorship at huge events).

Because of this competitiveness, smaller breweries have to look at ways they can stand out, catch peoples’ attention, and enjoy a return on their limited investment options. Case in point – Canadian brewer James Ready.

To take them to the next level of awareness and sales, James Ready hired Leo Burnett Canada, with media buying and planning support from Starcom MediaVest. Their approach? A billboard campaign.

James Ready billboard campaign

But instead of this being a standard billboard approach, the creative saw the 10? by 20? billboards secured and rented out to fans of the beer for free. The mission? To let fans create ads about why they loved the beer, and the agency would turn this into the campaign to attract new fans and buyers.

The result? An increase of 55% on sales from the previous period, and a growth in market share of 31%, all from a spend of just over $140,000 (excluding production costs). All in all, not too shabby.

Traditional Advertising Does Work – But So Does All Great Advertising

The point of this post isn’t to lay doubts to the Copyblogger graphic. Like I mentioned at the start, social media (or “new”) advertising is hugely effective.

Yet there are many agencies and businesses flocking to social media, when traditional approaches still have their place. And when you couple both traditional and social together, the results can be outstanding.

At the end of the day, the medium that works best is the one that meets the needs and location of your target audience. For some, this may be a Facebook ad; for others, it may be a Sunday slot in the broadsheets.

One form of media doesn’t necessarily trump the other – far from it. Instead, all you need is what you’ve always needed – smart ideas and a solid strategy to back them up.

And that doesn’t have to mean spending 100 million dollars or a 100 year gestation period to be successful…

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Danny Brown
Danny Brown is partner at Bonsai Interactive Marketing, a full service agency offering integrated, social media and mobile marketing solutions. He is also founder of the 12for12k Challenge, a social media-led charity initiative connecting globally and helping locally.


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