Stuck in the middle
The fundamentals of marketing are the same as they always were. The marriage of a great idea to a compelling message based on a core audience insight is still what carries and resonates. However, the speed at which we need to run, the channels available to us, the power of those we seek to influence, and our ability to measure, refine, and improve have all changed significantly.
The power we have available to us as marketers today is the power that comes from combining the art of what we do with the science that can inform, improve, and deliver it. And it requires a more “tradigital” mindset.
Turn off the (omni)channel
Marketers have grown obsessed with the channels they’re using, often at the expense of campaign effectiveness. Our choice of channels, platforms, and media is obviously important. But it has to come second to the fundamentals, which can all too often fall to the wayside when striving to put together the most “omnichannel” campaign possible.
A “tradigital” approach acknowledges that audience and influence cut across all channels both digital and traditional. The channel is dictated by what influences a particular audience, rather than some abstract benefits or features that may or may not create the desired effect. By going back to first principles, marketers will automatically find themselves combining traditional and digital channels into fully-integrated campaigns – not for its own sake, but because doing so is the best way to get the right results.
Going “tradigital” also makes it easier to adapt existing skills into new practices. Take “influencer relations”, for example, a relatively new practice that’s intrinsically tied to the rise of online influencers like bloggers and YouTube stars. While influencer relations might seem like uncharted territory to most marketers, it’s an evolution of media relations in many ways – something PR firms have been doing for decades. The same rules of relationship-building, partnership, and content direction apply: the only difference is the medium where the content ends up residing.
Marketers with a “tradigital” mindset won’t be attached to working with bloggers, media, or Instagrammers. Instead, they’ll assess which type of influencer has the most traction amongst their target audience, then forge relationships to develop content that will resonate the most with that audience. These relationship-building and content creation processes may take place across a diverse range of channels, but they’re guaranteed to be far more consistent because of a common understanding of who the campaign’s addressing.
Don’t let “tradigital” become tragedy
How can marketers best integrate their campaigns across traditional and digital silos? The first step is to cultivate strong technical skills across all channels, media, and tactics. Only with that technical proficiency can marketers make well-informed decisions about which tactics will influence a particular audience, and co-ordinate those tactics to ensure they don’t deliver contradictory or ambiguous messages.
Whether in-house or agency, the best way for marketing teams to develop these skills is through a T-shaped approach to training, where each marketer hones a single area of deep expertise while also gaining basic skills in a wide range of disciplines. The T-shaped approach ensures that teams not only have access to strong specialist skills in a range of channels, but also can understand one another and collaborate more effectively when bringing those channels together. When doing this, ensure that so-called “traditional” channels like media and outdoor are not discounted in favor of online channels that marketers – and clients – may be more enamored with.
Next, marketers should rethink the way in which they organize their campaigns. Rather than segmenting plans by channel, “tradigital” marketers will focus on how the campaign influences its audience to progress down the marketing funnel. At Text100, we still abide by our IDEA methodology when devising campaigns: insights, differentiation, engagement, and assessment direct how we build brand strategies, rather than simply jumping to the use of one particular channel or type of content.
Finally, marketing teams must invest in a new breed of talent: project managers and planners whose specialty is orchestrating increasingly complex combinations of online, offline, and hybrid (like VR) channels. These individuals play a critical role in making sure that all the talk of audience and influence doesn’t devolve into channel-based silos during the execution process. As the mediators between different channels and marketing functions, they must have both strong communications abilities, rigorous organizational skills, and a desire to understand all facets of any given campaign.
The best advice we can give marketers today is to get rid of “traditional” and “digital” altogether. The terms are increasingly irrelevant in an era where audience preferences, spheres of influence, and media channels are emerging, evolving, and dying faster than ever before. “Tradigital” marketers are just practitioners who’ve realized that there is no real difference anymore between online, offline, or any other professional silo: so we can get rid of “tradigital” too. It’s all just marketing.