It's really been interesting to see the impact that the deflating economy has had on the marketing industry. I'll have to admit that, a couple of years ago when the real estate market first begun the down slide and the economy started going in the tank, I was still amazed to see that the advertising industry seemed to be remaining strong.
In past recessions, I'd seen that as soon as the economy started to constrict, the clients started slicing and dicing our marketing budgets with no abandon.
This time around, the agency I was working at at the time, was still growing like gangbusters. And the clients were still spending copiously.
Now I think they were all just in denial. Because two years later, the recession has hit all businesses square in the face and the marketing industry has changed more than I have ever seen.
The good thing is that our agency is actually still growing and going strong. Because of our business model, no brick and mortar = low overhead and less cost and more value for clients, we're seeing more and more clients, even big clients, who are looking for a smarter way to leverage their budgets and who are happy to go with a boutique agency with senior level talent and full service with a smaller price tag. Seems like a no brainer to me!
The other interesting trend we've seen is that clients are really looking for creative ways to engage their customers. The days of soley traditional branding campaigns seem to be a thing of the past. Not that branding is dead, mind you! God forbid. A strong brand is still essential.
But as technology grows, we continue find better ways to filter out advertising messages as we seek out our entertainment and information (think Tivo/DVR, XM Radio, Pop-up blockers, etc.), making it more difficult to get our marketing messages to the right, receptive market.
Plus, it seems like traditional advertising just keeps getting more and more expensive and less and less effective. These days, the best way to really reach and, more importantly, engage a clients' customers is to catch them when they are actually in the mindset of seeking out information on your product.
Instead of utilizing only traditional outbound marketing (i.e. advertising, trade shows, cold calling, eblasts, direct mail, etc.), clients of today's economy must include a strong mix of inbound marketing in their marketing plans (i.e. search engine optmization, blogging--to include writing blogs as well as reading and commenting on blogs, participating in social media such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.).
Every companies' customers are already out on the web seeking out information on potential products and services. Of course, you want them to find you when they do! Not only that, but they are having conversations about those products and services. Making commentary. Sharing opinions. It's so important to know what they are saying and be prepared to participate in the conversation.
Best of all, social media and search engine optimization is way less expensive than traditional media and can be much more targeted and viral.
As the marketing arena continues to evolve from pressures in the economy and demands by clients for more direct responses to their marketing spend, we'll continue to see a shift towards more inbound marketing and less outbound marketing. I have no doubt.
We saw the writing on the wall pretty early. So our agency has luckily already jumped all over this marketing revolution for our clients and are continuing to educate ourselves everyday and stay on top of it so we can make the most of these opportunities for our clients. It's been exciting to see the phenomenal results we're already getting through strategic search engine optmization as well as leveraging the blogosphere and social media for our clients.
It'll also be interesting to see the effect that this has long term on our industry. Will marketers who cling to traditional methods eventually fall by the wayside? I'm thinking, probably so.
These are just my thoughts, but I'd love to hear from you. What do you think of social media? Do you think it's just a fad? Have you seen any big marketing shifts in the company you work for? Do you think that social media will eventually cause traditional media to get less expensive in order to compete (one can only hope!)? We'd love to hear your thoughts!
by Tracy Marlowe