Applying traditional media principles to new media

David Ogilvy writes about innovations in direct mail that worked wonders. He describes an initiative for the new Cessna Citation business jet when prospects were surprised to receive live carrier pigeons with an invitation to take a free ride in a Citation. The recipient was asked to release the carrier pigeon with his address tied to its leg. Some of the recipients ate the pigeons, but several returned alive, and at least one Citation was sold – for $600,000!

A simple definition of the aim of any marketing communications programme is that it should make the target audience think, feel and act. That being said we can draw lessons from traditional forms of advertising that have been tried and tested and apply them on new media to reach audiences, despite the technological and generational changes that have taken place.

Direct mail marketing in the US is worth $12 billion a year and it is also a significant proportion of advertising expenditure in western countries. It never took off in the Kenya due to the low penetration of post office boxes and the dwindling prospect of the postal services due to the uptake of the world wide web, electronic mail and mobile telephony. Posta currently boasts of 400,000 postal boxes and a guaranteed return on investment if you use their direct mail services, even though that seems to suggest that they can only reach less than 1% of the population.

The strength of direct mail is the ability to target your prospects through comprehensive databases that are developed and improved over time. Direct mail is very effective because it always contains a call to action. As many readers tell themselves that they will mail the coupon ‘later’ but never get round to it, a study revealed that twice as much response is lost in this way. So those using direct mail started to use specific calls to action to get their audience to act immediately with such phrases as Limited Edition, Limited Supply, Last Time At This Price, and Special Prices For Promptness. With direct mail you also have the option to test every variable and its effect on your sales including pricing, terms of payment, premiums and the format of your mailings.

Targeting specific audiences has been perfected with the advent of online advertising and social media marketing and with that the learning from direct mail can be applied to deliver effective campaigns. Test every variable of your campaign on an ongoing basis and ensure to develop multiple call-to-action messages and closely follow the responses from your target audiences.

Other lessons can be drawn from Network Marketing, also known as Multi-level Marketing or Relationship Marketing. Avon is among the largest multi-level marketing companies and they earned revenues of $10 billion in 2013 from global sales. The multi-level marketing concept is built around recruiting independent sales agents who are users of the brand, and who in turn recruit others sales agents from their social circles that are prospective users of the brand. The new recruits then recruit other sales agents, encouraging them to do the same, and in this way create a ‘downline’ of agents who earn incentives for the recruiters whenever they buy the product. The difference between network marketing and illegal Ponzi schemes is that a product must be sold in order to earn incentives as opposed to incentives being earned on recruitment alone, without a sale taking place.

Network marketing turns casual observers into true believers who spread the gospel of the brand to their family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. The personal approach and word-of-mouth evangelism drives the highest rate of conversion in marketing, and research shows that 80% of people who have received a brand recommendation from a friend or family member are likely to buy the brand.

Influencer engagement in social media marketing is based on incentives for promoting a brand paid to individuals with a large following of relevant audiences, irregardless of whether the influencer uses the brand or not. If we considered the essence of network marketing, the alternative is to recruit influencers that use the brand, or even convert the influencers to use the brand, and then get them to convert their followers into users as well.

Even though people generally think of digital marketing as separate from traditional marketing, its core is based on the same primary outcomes, and that is to make people think, feel and act. In this regard references can be made to the effectiveness of traditional marketing that can be applied successfully to digital advertising.

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