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Marketing Opinion South Africa

Traditional marketing mediums still have a key role to play

Traditional mediums are still relevant in modern-day marketing. Why? Because traditional mediums are the original P, in 4P's of Kotler's principle of marketing.

In simple English - traditional mediums such as TV, radio, print (newspapers and magazines) and outdoor, are the original mediums through which a company promotes its product, services or brand. Looking at the Kotler’s principles of marketing in the olden days, we used to have 4P’s, they were, product; price; place and promotion.

Now we have 7P’s being product, price, place, promotion, people, process and physical evidence. However, according to the marketing studies, the first four P’s I mentioned earlier are called the core, and the last three are said to be extended marketing mix.

Of particular interest is how over the years our marketing activities have changed, for the better. The promotion tool has given birth to so many aspects within it, due to the advent of technology precipitating the digital age. I am still of the view that promotion still plays a very huge role in creating perception and promoting brand recognition. Besides, let’s face it, advertising is about perception and brand recognition!

Digital media killing print

These days, we now have additional siblings in promotional tools at our disposal for example social media and digital media, not forgetting their less used cousin, public relations in the mix. Lately, I have watched how brands, services and products are communicated in the media space, and could not help but observe how the traditional mediums are pushed to the outer sanctum.

Digital media is killing (or has killed) a lot of print mediums, and we’ll be burying many print publications one by one in not-so-distant future!

However, I still believe there is a role that traditional mediums play, and will continue to do so in the advertising industry, especially when huge integrated marketing campaigns are embarked upon – and also small campaigns.

As I toyed with this dilemma, I went back to basics looking back at our days in the advertising industry - the analogue days - how things used to be
done, it was quite interesting how we managed to run effective campaigns just by using the ‘4some’ (TV, radio, print and outdoor) – and won awards as well!

I remember when a huge advertising campaign was about to be launched, a media strategy would have determined the channels, reach, frequency and impact – good old media planning 101. Fast forward 20 years, the picture looks different. Social and digital media are part of the mix in the media strategy and promotion component. And at times, I’ve noticed that clients utilise the social or digital media only without the PR or traditional mediums to launch a campaign.

Now, what is wrong with this picture? When clients (together with their agencies) decide to utilise social and digital mediums alone to run a campaign, they should not be shocked when it does not do well in the public space, or achieve the desired objectives.

Traditional media should kick start the campaign

This is like an elephant walking on 3 legs… that is if it can walk! I believe that using social and digital mediums only and neglecting to add traditional mediums and PR in the mix, would not always yield desired results for a brand or product or service – irrespective of how big or small the campaign is. This is a mistake clients make, thinking that social media is the be-all and end-all of the ‘P’ in the marketing mix.

I still feel traditional mediums are key in carrying and kick-starting a campaign. I believe that if we could use traditional – social – digital – PR (all 4) in any size of any campaign, that campaign would have a better impact and wider reach.
So, hear me out…

  • When a brand or product or service is launched, I’ll just use a product for the purposes of this article, the media strategy should have a detailed plan on how traditional mediums, social media, digital media and PR are going to be utilized and staggered to maximize impact and reach of the campaign
  • First, the campaign should first break in traditional mediums; TV, radio, print (newspapers and magazines) and outdoor for the first week, at high frequency (depending on the budget and size of the campaign, of course).
  • In the second week, the frequency could go from medium to low on traditional mediums, and allow digital to kick in and take effect to continue to keep the momentum. And later, in the same week or so, PR takes effect with views, news, interviews and controlling the narrative of the campaign - that whole publicity blitzkrieg!

  • Then, in the subsequent weeks (third to fifth week or so) social media with PR at the forefront takes centre stage, whilst traditional slows down (not killed!). At this time, communication is quite key as social media is utilised rigorously to prolong the longevity of the campaign in the media space, whilst being backed by PR. Digital will still be at it -albeit at low frequency. Thus, the latter weeks of the campaign are used to unpack content, push a particular narrative – to ensure that a product is recognised and perceptions are positive.

This approach could be done even with small campaigns such as communicating a change of a product pack or change of font in the pack! I really believe there is a place for traditional mediums in this digital age, it needs creative thinking on how it is utilised. In the analogue days, a campaign would run for six to eight weeks just on traditional mediums, with added value from the spots given, to close the gap. I hope these days added value is bigger since social and digital media have taken the industry by storm.

So, let’s not look at the traditional mediums as an outcast – or waste of time, and treat her like a stepchild – she’s always been the firstborn of mediums – the fact that she’s getting old and grey does not mean she’s lost her touch. Not all print mediums are going to die… yet! I still prefer hard copy though. I appreciate the art of looking at pictures, in print!

About Bonnie Ramaila

Bonnie Ramaila is an international communication consultant. She previously worked in the private and public sector as a communication expert. She runs a consultancy that specialises in bespoke communication for niche clients and individuals. Services include communication and media advice, facilitation, publicity and strategy development. She writes in her personal capacity.
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