Villing & Company

Digital marketing: Strategic solution or just another shiny object?

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Although digital marketing is hardly a new marketing tool, it seems like every day a major brand announces it is shifting the bulk of its media dollars into digital. The same goes for local and regional brands. Not long ago a regional tourism attraction told me they wanted to put all their marketing dollars into digital.

For sure, one cannot deny the precise targeting potential of digital – as well as the analytics available to assess numerical impact. But for a long time, I have had the feeling that these capabilities are often more seductive than they are effective. Digital ads may appear in the right places.  They may even get noticed. But all too often they lack the strategic messaging and creative memorability necessary for consumers to engage and act upon them.  For that reason, I believe marketers should be cautious about putting a disproportionate amount of their dollars in the digital basket.

When that regional tourism brand informed me of their intentions, I immediately flashed back to classic marketing funnel.  It is based on the simple acronym AIDA.  Attention. Interest. Desire. Action.  From my experience, it is very difficult to stimulate attention, much less interest from a typical digital ad.  Without interest, creating desire and action are rarely achievable. As marketers, our job is to grab a potential customer's attention and then lay the necessary foundation to peak his or her interest sufficiently to move the transactional process forward. In short, we have to give the target audience a “reason to believe” in our product or service. Anything less is just so much noise.

Once a product or service’s merits have been established, digital marketing can be very effective as reminders and as a stimulus for action.  That’s where, in my opinion, the real value of digital marketing comes into play.  And, depending on what one’s strategic marketing goals are, digital should be part of the media mix.  But like most things in life, there needs to be an appropriate balance.

As I started thinking about how to approach this subject, I came across an interesting article by a digital marketing expert.  Interestingly, the article was titled “Digital Marketing is Overrated.”  One of the author’s concluding statements was “It’s time to embrace all forms of media and make decisions because they are the right ones not because they are the ones we’re expected to make.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Filed Under: marketing, branding

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