Old school rules still apply to new media

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

I had a discussion a few days ago with a colleague who is into online marketing and social media. As we talked about the application of new media as it relates to traditional media, I began to realize how similar the core “rules” are. To me, the new media arena is still in it’s beginnings. There’s still a lot of experimentation, a lot of new apps coming online, a lot of everything. But, as the industry matures, there seems to be emerging some common ideas that really mimic the base guidelines that govern good marketing. Here are a few ideas that came up as solid, online practices:

• You must utilize different channels – This is a core of solid marketing. There is no silver bullet. You can’t depend on just one tactic to drive all of your marketing efforts. In David Scott’s book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR”, he states that it’s not an either/or on whether you should blog, podcast, RSS, video, etc. He says you should integrate all of the online tactics into your campaign. Not everyone likes to just read or just watch videos. Individuals like to consume media differently. (sounds familiar?) I completely agree with David’s assessment. Where I do differ from most new media evangelists is they believe all you need is blog, podcast, RSS, video, etc. Anything offline is old and dead. That kind of thinking is very ironic considering they will try almost anything online whether is really works or not. As long as it’s online, they believe it’s the thing to do. What happened to the concept of integration? To me true marketing integration takes a look at ALL possible channels and then decides on what tactics are best suited to achieve specific goals. In fact, there are recent independent studies out showing that a combination of traditional and online marketing increases word-of-mouth buzz of almost 4x as much as if you only utilized online tactics. (see: The realistic way to view TV in your marketing mix)

• Quality content is more critical now than ever – Because the internet gives everyone ability to be their own media center, you see a ton of crap. Not everyone is suited to make a video, design a web site, or even blog. Keep in mind, I’m not trying to criticize media that is for personal reasons only (though some of that is even crap). Too many business are DIY (do-it-yourself) and really have no idea what they’re doing, and it shows, both strategically and tactically. Lets take video for example. Anyone can shoot a video, post it, and call it a day. That used to be good enough because the technology was so new then. Now, it’s becoming different. We are starting to expect a level of professionalism, entertainment value, and quality that we see on TV. We are getting bored quicker online because the novelty of watching video from our computer is wearing off. The rules of producing a :30 spot or a 5 minute video still applies no matter where it’s shown. Storyline, pacing, music selection, lighting, art direction, message, script all are important. Just as it is on TV. The business success of Hulu is, in large part, because of the quality content. They have quality shows, not just home made videos. Susan Boyle of Britain’s Got Talent is a huge viral success. Again professional quality video contributes to the effect of her performance.

• Your online presence must have a personality – Again, I completely agree. Your web site, blog, twitter, and podcasts all must sound and “feel” like they came from the same company. It must carry a core personality. To marketing veterans, that’s nothing new. We’ve understood that is the essence of brand. The specific application doesn’t matter. The brand IS the core of who you are and what you stand for. It is the “personality” of your company. In referencing David Scotts’ book again, he believes the same thing: your online voice must have a consistent personality. There are two key ideas here. One, you need to have a personality. Just like a person, who wants to be with someone with no personality? They’re a bad hang. The second, is consistency. No one likes to keep company with Sybil. This is a company that doesn’t know what they’re about or does something out of character. We all know when a company says or does something that just doesn’t feel right for them.

My ending thoughts lead me to believe that as new media matures, it will adapt core marketing principles that are still true and effective. Just because the medium is different, doesn’t mean that what existed before no longer applies. In reality, it’s just a different use of the same guidelines. Integration, quality, core brand are all as important now as it has been in the past. I would say, because of the vast new media choices, it’s even more important. Just as though there are new types of alloys, glass, and construction techniques, doesn’t mean that the “old” rules of applied physics isn’t relevant anymore.



About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

6 Responses to “Old school rules still apply to new media”

  1. Well said. Thanks for mentioning my book.

    I think in future, all marketing & PR will be just marketing & PR. We’ll drop the “new.” Not sure what that does for my book sales though!

    • David,
      Thank you for taking time to read my blog. I do appreciate it. As you can probably tell, I’m in marketing and advertising. Though most would call me an “old timer” (I’ve been in the business for over 25 years), I do believe in the online media and social media. But, I also know how powerful the traditional forms of advertising STILL is. To me, it’s those who are able to combine the two into a complete strategy are the ones who will gain the long view benefits. BTW, I enjoyed your book. I didn’t agree with a few of your points, but that’s the great thing about learning.

      Best Wishes,

  2. I’m old line media too. Worked at Knight-Ridder for six years from 1989.


  1. Old school rules still apply to new media « Bebranded's Blog - August 21, 2009

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