This is one of those chicken and egg kind of arguments.
But instead of asking which one came first, people are trying to figure out which one is better – digital or traditional? Truth be told, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to marketing. Digital has its advantages as does traditional.
So, why is there such a level of animosity between the two camps? For one, in an environment where budgets are reduced at what feels like monthly intervals, agencies on both sides of the fence need to justify their existence and figure out new ways to deliver more bang for the client buck.
South African agencies have an even trickier time of it. In a country where digital is growing, but not quite reaching the levels of say the United States and England, traditional marketing still rules the roost. Given that roughly 13 million South Africans use Facebook (out of a population size of approximately 53 million), this makes sense.
The digital divide is still very present in South Africa and the rest of the continent. But despite this, agencies are leveraging the limited market size with increasingly innovative ways of creating targeted campaigns. While traditional hits the numbers in terms of eyeballs, digital is often used for a more nuanced approach.
Just think about that Facebook promoted post targeted for a specific neighbourhood down the road from a company’s head office. Or that LinkedIn advertising campaign focused only on getting C-suite executives clicking. While still required (well at least in developing countries), the likes of TV, radio, billboards, brochures, and so on will remain a client favourite.
But on the flip side, those smaller businesses that cannot afford a traditional campaign are turning to digital. And this is happening in droves. Not only are these campaigns more cost-effective, but they are considerably more measurable than anything a traditional campaign can provide.
Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, engagement between the customer and the company can happen more directly. No longer is it required to use a newspaper, magazine or television station as a conduit. In the digital world, companies are relying on the likes of Facebook and Twitter to drive their message home and get feedback in real-time from new and existing customers.
South Africans will not say goodbye to traditional marketing any time soon. And nor should they. The trick is just to find the right balance between the old and the new. And if this forces agencies to be more creative, all the better for it.
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