The Design Division

Is Offline Marketing Dead?

Now that we’re into December, how about a Christmas ghost story! Many people have been mourning the death of offline marketing. “Everything is moving online” they wail! “Don’t waste time on offline marketing” they howl. But we don’t agree. Offline marketing is far from finished. In fact, it can give your online marketing a more than welcome shot in the arm!

Almost like a nuclear reaction, the online revolution that is changing our world accelerates at a frightening rate. From interacting with friends to shopping for Sunday lunch, the almighty web is leaving no stone unturned. Marketing has felt the impact more than most, massively so. Indeed, it’s possible to believe now that there is only the website, the email, the blog and the likes of Facebook.

If tomorrow belongs exclusively to Virtual, however, why do most of us still go to work in a physical office? Driving down a physical street? Looking at physical 48 sheet posters on the way? Listening to a physical radio, albeit a digital one? And reading physical newspapers in our lunch break?

Because the physical world is still there! And as much in marketing as anywhere.

It reminds me of that trick quiz question, ‘What’s the main component of milk?’ The obvious answer is calcium, but of course it’s also obviously wrong when you think about it. Like most things, including you and me, milk is mostly good old water. It’s so obvious, in fact, that it slips under your radar.

Offline marketing is like that. The new kid on the block may hog all the limelight, but the old guy’s far too tough to just give in and fade away. Even if companies spend around 25% of their marketing budgets online, it still leaves 75% that they don’t. Newspaper ads, TV, radio and cinema commercials, printed brochures and direct mail – they’re all still there, and all still effective.

Indeed, in some ways the success of online actually helps. Printed flyers drive customers to targeted landing pages or social media, minimalist ads direct people to websites for more meaty information. Like that oft quoted Mark Twain gem, rumours of offline marketing’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

The way forward is, as suggested, for the two to work together, in integrated campaigns with synergy of messaging and branding. The trackability that online affords can bring rich mutual benefits. For example, run a split test between two posters asking people to visit two different URLs – and then sit back and see which one gets the hits.

Far from being dead, offline still has a vital role to play. The offline culture of direct, top-down marketing is more appropriate for many activities than the bottom-up, information-led, social community ethos of the web. And that won’t change anytime soon.

So, we say, welcome back to print! (Not that it ever left us. Nor will do.)

For more discussion on marketing issues, call 0845 230 4810.