Marketing Symbiosis: How your peers combine traditional marketing with social media, Facebook, blogs, and the rest of the digital world


If you’ve flipped through your favorite print magazine lately, you might have seen an ad for a product you’ve never seen advertised to consumers before – magazines. In fact, magazines now even have their own tagline – The Power of Print.

At the same time, the publishing industry is falling all over itself to promote the supremacy and fresh capabilities possible with every new digital distribution tool (Hearst is even looking at buying digital-marketing firm iCrossing). It is quite a post-modern experience for my print version of The Wall Street Journal to try to sell me on reading that issue on the iPad instead.

The way the publishing industry has reacted to the digital world is akin to your wife trumpeting how wonderful your marriage has been at the same time she suggests you would have been much happier with her sister.

I kid because I love

I kid the publishing industry because I love it so much. In my job, I read every publication I can get my hands on, and savor the knowledge awaiting me in every bound issue that arrives in my mailbox.

But I’m also picking on the publishers because I don’t want to turn that harsh spotlight on myself and my fellow marketers. Truth be told, while all these digital developments are exciting and spark the creativity inherent in marketers, they’re also a little scary.

And while there are sublime examples of marketers combining the traditional with the 2.0, many marketers are losing money by not putting the puzzle pieces together correctly.

On our free April 28th web clinic – Integrate Your Marketing: How one company combined offline and online marketing to increase subscriptions by 124% – we’ll share the latest discoveries to help you do just that. In the meantime, here is a look at how your peers are making the connection…

Start with the problem

For too long marketing budgets have been set and then an arbitrary percentage, say 10%, went to online without a true understanding of its impact. My firm, WCM, no longer differentiates between traditional and online because the separation is not necessary and new tools are constantly being developed. Online is mainstream.

Moving forward: Start with the business problem. Then make a list of the techniques you can use to solve that problem with marketing. Prioritize the list and diagram the best course of action. See where the connections lead – I suspect traditional is driving interaction through online channels.

Example: For a hospital network, we are creating pre-scheduled, topic-specific discussions on Facebook. (Most companies still use Facebook as a broad discussion board). By using traditional marketing (TV, radio, posters), we will drive patients and caregivers to the daily discussion and grow the loyal and active fan base. Monday is a discussion on nutrition and diets for those combating cancer, Tuesday is all about fashion tips (“looking beautiful when your hair is gone”) etc.

Marketing tool selection should be based on how you want to interact with your audience, but more importantly, how they prefer to be communicated with. For example, those struggling with cancer generally crave interaction with people. Social media makes it happen.

Rick McKenna, President of Wallwork Curry McKenna


The hub or the mirror

There are a thousand different techniques used to integrate online and offline marketing. For a lot of companies, the website is the “hub” that all other marketing efforts connect with. And if the website is not a “hub” then it works as a “mirror” to reflect what other channels are promoting.

With that in mind, online and offline marketing work best in tandem. And they work best when there is a common strategy with outlined goals and pre-defined benchmarks for evaluation.

Here are some obvious techniques:

  • Developing a plan for accounting for untrackable web sales (it’s going to happen)
  • Making sure a website’s URL can be used as a response mechanism
  • Including the URL in all marketing efforts (if it fits strategy)
  • Allow the website to “enhance” the content or messaging of your offline efforts
  • Other than the URL, make sure your site can be found; using keywords in offline marketing that are mirrored through paid and organic search

In the end, your customers do not necessarily care about the techniques used, only that their ease of shopping or ordering or learning, etc. is as seamless and unobtrusive as possible.

John Kennerty, Director of Marketing at Sinclair Institute

Communication and eliminating silos

You must first align your goals, objectives and key performance indicators (KPIs) around one strategy and then speak the same voice across all channels. The communication internally and externally must mesh and meet the customer’s expectations in each channel.

Beyond this, cross promotion and teasers are great. Examples:

  • In your catalog, place the copy of a hot blog, but only put the first couple of lines and refer to the blog. Or have a fun fact and point people online to learn more.
  • Make your homepage either match any direct mail or retail pieces that are active or at least have a space for it.
  • Have a virtual catalog online and/or a virtual showroom.
  • Have your email messages, direct mail, direct response television (DRTV) or other advertising hit at the same time with the same message. Make sure your promotions/discounts are available through any ordering method.

There are many other examples and ideas, but at the core you must stay true to your brand and message in all channels.

– Steve A. Cates, VP of Multichannel Marketing at Carrot-Top Industries

A detailed method

Here is a strategy we tested that has worked successfully for us since 1999. We used it for over 30 Fortune 500 clients, mostly publishers. Word of warning: excellent technology will not take a bad campaign and make it good. However, if you have an otherwise excellent effort, it’s worth adding powerful technology behind it. Passing some of Marketing Experiments’ exams would truly help you understand the power of this method.


1. A direct mail piece goes out with a common URL and a unique login ID for each recipient.

2. There is an incentive and a deadline to encourage recipients to log in.

3. When they do, the campaign owner will be notified.

4. Additional enhancements (leads delivered by email, SMS, stored and exported to delimited or mainframe formats), are all possible to add value to your client (if you are an agency).

A brief non-technical explanation:

Direct mail list (database if you will) gets an additional field, let’s call it UniqueID. This number can track each individual as well as campaign constants (campaign ID, incentive used, etc).

The recipient is offered an attractive incentive in the mail piece to log in with their unique ID (raise motivation).

When a login occurs, the campaign owner is notified. If a form must be completed, the information we already have about recipient can be conveniently pre-populated (reduced friction).

Notice how even if they DO NOT proceed to claim your offer (but just log in) you are still notified, giving you the ability to identify “warm leads.”

If the user is supposed to complete a form, this can be pre-populated with variables which display values from the same database used for the mailing. When they log in, the form they are supposed to use for ordering is already filled out (they can correct any mistakes / update info and continue).

Some marketers make intentional mistakes, to “push a button” in people to correct a misspelling (and in the process subscribe to something they offered).

Simply having the technology (your prospect receives a mail piece that allows them to log in to claim a desirable bonus) puts the merchant in a better light (reduced anxiety).

If the campaign is an email, the login step can be eliminated. Clients can click and land directly on a pre-populated form or personalized welcome / landing page.

This is something I’ve done for a decade and I can elaborate at length, if anyone is interested in the technical details.

– Dan Banici, Business Analyst at Incentive Server

Win a free ticket

Are your worlds colliding? Or are you a smooth operator at making the digital and the analog flow seamlessly together? Let us know how you integrate traditional and digital marketing in the comments section. Our favorite comment will win a free ticket to the 2010 Online Marketing ROI Tour.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Paul Pacun, winner of a free ticket to the 2010 Online Marketing ROI Tour.

Related Resources

Integrate Your Marketing: How one company combined offline and online marketing to increase subscriptions by 124%

Press Releases — How we tested the impact of press releases on website traffic and inbound links, and found that effective PR can deliver an ROI superior to PPC advertising

Are video clips medium-agnostic?

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  1. Robert Brady says

    I love digital media. My RSS reader constantly pulls in the best blogs for me to read and I read the newest books on my Kindle. However, there is something about holding a magazine, with its glossy paper and smooth texture, that makes it worth the couple bucks. Maybe it’s the thrill of getting a new surprise in the mailbox or maybe it’s the allure of the crisp images and stunning photography, but magazines will always have a place in my world.

  2. Paul Pacun says

    We use both PURL’s on our postcards and personalized links in every email we send. We send HTML emails with our ESP but custom (though mail merged) emails from our CRM a week later to follow up with the users who download our offering packages. For us, just looking at a picture of the property is not enough, we need to focus on the engaged users. As my friend told me, “It’s not the size of your list, it’s what you do with it”.

  3. tony felt says

    Im a big fan of digital media. I read blogs all the time and have found many business opportunites through blogging. For example, I recently found Yacht Exports through the blogging, a company that shipped 3 boats for me and did a great job. But, reading a new National Geographic is still thrilling and that new magazine smell is one of a kind.0

  4. Joseph Dyett says

    Hi would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S My apologies for being off-topic but I had to ask!

    1. John Tackett says

      Hi Joseph,

      Thank you for the question. We use WordPress for our blog.

  5. Aurelia Varughese says

    Excellent article. I’m going through a few of these issues as well..

  6. Solar Panel says

    When you love digital marketing, reading such a blog is informative. I get to know many new things. And keeping in mind that there are heavenly instances of advertisers joining the conventional with the 2.0, numerous advertisers are losing cash by not assembling the interconnecting pieces effectively.

  7. Apk Pivot says

    Hey great article, i would love to see more articles like this. Keep Up the good work.

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