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Print is Dead, Long Live the King “Online Advertising!”…Really?

Print advertising has been the go to player forever, but the online advertising explosion simply eclipsed it. Print is still a viable medium when used as a targeted marketing tool. Sadly many newspapers, magazines, and gazettes have been sent into permanent retirement because of a mix of bias reporting, unrealistic costs, lack of relevancy, and inability to track results effectively. The age of the online experience is in full swing and marketers across every vertical push out endless supplies of critical data, lists, terminology, definitions, and check lists. They attempt to sway opinion and preference through a barrage of data rather than a carefully constructed message. Print is ideal for target marketing


Two reasons, cost reduction and analytics. What better way to impress the boss than with reports on site visits, page clicks, views, likes, and hopefully revenue. The problem with this scenario is comparable to shooting a shotgun at the head of a pin, from 100 yards – no focus! At least print, although sometimes biased and opinionated, provides a specific platform for the message. Online experience is teaching “users” (who are not necessarily buyers) that graphics are most important while the art of the written word has become an ancient practice, akin to magic.

Next Picture Please

I can already hear the legions of successful online marketers laughing at this comment. In their opinion, the end justifies the means. Kind of a crack pot way of thinking considering that most online exposure is short-lived and tossed aside in pursuit of the next idiom and associated graphic. The true benefit of print lies in the written word and its longevity in building strong relationships between individuals and groups. Online marketing programs tend to push impulsive behavior in lieu of conversation about true value. They overcome obstacles by linking unaccredited sources to data “proving” their position. Unfortunately, all that is proven is ability to use the Internet.  I mean how reliable is Wikipedia for you? Do you use it as a reference or a starting point in research? The answer defines you.

Forming a Strategic Partnership

Alright, I am off the soap box. The truth is that both print and online are necessary in any strategic initiative regardless of a company’s size, budget, or industry. The issue lies in how to best use both together, in parallel, or as a supporting role. Print can be directive in long-term strategy for brand awareness and publicity whereas online exposure is a great way to increase short-term cash flow through discounts, promotions, contests, and daily deals.

I know what you are thinking- online can also do that through blogs, websites, forums, and chat rooms – and you would be correct. Print is simply another tool to enhance targeted campaigns and provide additional touch points with the target audience. So get your pencil and paper out and scratch out a plan to use both print and online in your next campaign. You can’t go wrong. See, I put it in writing...

Is Your Marketing Planning Better than a 5 Year Old?

Listening to a 5 year old explain what he wants is both educational and humorous beyond words. The linkage between cause and effect in a five year old mind is one that should be retained for life. Sadly, we forget this simple skill set as we age and process more information. We, as parents and adults should continue to admire the tenacity, focus, and “sales pitch” that assaults us each time a child embarks on a personal agenda for a favorite toy, event, food, or to avoid taking the deadly bath and going to bed.

Marketing Strategy

Changing gears to marketing, we can learn many lessons from the process that a 5 year old goes through to execute “strategy”. The top three are consistency of message, follow through, and attention to detail. The 5 year old is deep in the process of developing lifelong communication skills and abilities surrounding getting what they want from others. He is driven, focused, and socially unfettered. Truly amazing! I for one, have fallen prey too many times to the ingenuity of my little task master and regularly pause in admiration.

Keep marketing messages simple

Think like a 5 year old when building marketing plans

Clear and Convincing Messages

In any marketing relationship a clear message that resonates with both speaker and audience is critical to success. The key components include simplicity, easy interpretation, relevancy, and expectations for response. The only way to achieve success is to keep everything consistent and set realistic expectations, abide by adequate measurements, and provide flexibility in the process. In the case of the 5 year old, he describes a desire for a toy, explains how good he will be in return (expectation), will only play with it when allowed, and still remains open to other toy selections (flexibility). He also includes benefits provided by not enduring his potential bad behavior. All in effort to justify his request and provide his parent with a way to better their lives and his. Quite a sales feat for a little person.

It’s ALL in the Details

As we age, we tend to muddy the waters and focus too much on what others might think, the critical steps in the process, and what is in it for everyone else. Take a lesson from our 5 year old guru and provide a simple yet compelling message to your audience and watch the positive results pour in. At the top of his game, the five year old is the role model for follow through and attention to detail. How many times have you had to extricate yourself from a thoughtless comment or “bad deal” because your little nemesis has “recorded” your earlier promise and won’t change his perception. Eventually, he will win or “cry trying.” Truly, keeping everything simple and direct creates a powerful and convincing argument regardless of position.

Taking Action

Review your last marketing campaign and decide if it delivered the goods or failed because of complexity and over-thinking. I have, and found results could have been better if I had listened to my inner 5 year old, simplified my message, and clearly understood my goal. Marketing can be as complex as you want to make it but focus on simplicity will give better results.

Here is a basic road map:

1. Develop your initiative within a budget and for a targeted audience

2. Define the “simple” message and expectations

3. Describe the process and evaluate feasibility and plausibility

4. Establish a series of tasks, milestones, and feedback mechanism(s)

5. Choose or create compelling graphics and key words for impact

6. Execute and prepare for change

Probably sounds like what many other marketers have said but the difference is in your mindset. All I ask is that you adopt the clarity and forcefulness of a 5 year old mind, uncluttered and focused, rather than continuing with status quo. Send your results as a private message to me.

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