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Social Media vs Old School Marketing

Being in my early-thirties I often see ‘both sides’ of the new technology marketing debate when working with clients.

The generations above me continue to focus their time on one-to-one relationships, employing social media occasionally or as a side line to actually meeting up for lunch or chatting on the telephone.

The generations below me focus their time on using the latest technology (currently social media) to reach as many people as possible and engage them through interactive widgets with one-to-one meetings reserved for expos, summits and networking events.


In my own experience both strategies work very well.

High volume target sales benefit particularly well from the ability to engage with large numbers of people at a pseudo-personal level for both marketing and product support.

Service provision businesses see the long term rewards of direct relationships where a customer feels personally connected to an individual within a company.

Websites were the first affordable step toward reaching mass markets and while the younger generations embraced the new technology quickly the older generations hesitated for a number of years before taking it onboard. This break in traditional marketing allowed for a high volume of success giving the impression that websites were the ‘new way’ to market and the slower style of one-to-one meetings was ineffective.


Web 2.0

The advent of “Web 2.0″, i.e. social media, sees the balance restored in how businesses attract and interact with customers. For those new to marketing, social media is the only way to engage people at a personal level. For the more experienced, social media is another technology that takes up precious time that could be spent ‘out’ talking to customers.

From my own point of view the two marketing models have finally come together. The key to traditional marketing was speaking to the decision making individual within a company. Over time (lunch, golf, coffee etc.) a relationship was built that allowed for candid discussion, even among business rivals. As Misner wrote, successful networking is ‘farming’, not ‘hunting’.

Social Media such as Linked In gives us the ‘internal directory’ of people within a company. Using this directory we can find the people we need to engage with. The company listing will link to their website giving you the history and focus of the company. The link back to the company Facebook page will show you the style of engagement they approach their customers with and their Twitter timeline will give you a daily insight into the company itself. The truly successful ‘traditional networkers’ tracked all of this information in notebooks filed under ‘marketing’. With software now tracking this information for us we have finally come to the level of interaction both marketers had been aiming for.

Social Media is old school marketing

Social Media really is the ‘old school marketing’ via the Internet. As business owners we can use the platforms to market to the masses, target the key individuals and gather data to focus our efforts on the right businesses and people. Armed with this information we can then go out and physically meet them to build a genuine one-to-one relationship. Following up any meeting is crucial and getting a business owner on the telephone is always tricky. Facebook messages, LinkedIn direct e-mail and Direct Messages via Twitter give us three new ‘answering machines’ on the desk of the individual we are now communicating with. We also don’t have to settle for a “hello and how are you?”. Links, downloads, useful resources, interactive materials and crucially referrals can now all be sent via social media platforms.

For the new generation of marketers social media is the ultimate marketing tool for maximising your time when preparing to meet and follow up real one-to-one meetings. For the older generation of marketers social media is the time releasing software you need to track and manage your established list of contacts.

Finally, don’t be afraid to compartmentalise. Dedicate some staff or outsourced social media services to mass marketing and PR with Facebook and Twitter. Dedicate other staff to gathering data via Linked In for one-to-one meetings. This combination of online and offline marketing is where you will find the truly successful companies enjoying the benefits of both styles of marketing, or is it just one style?