Can you build an online brand with old media?

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

Now there’s an interesting question and Bing hopes to find out the answer. They have been very active in advertising using traditional media (spending over $100 mil. thus far), especially TV. They are getting ready to launch another massive traditional media campaign. Can you really build up an online brand using offline tactics?

Well, so far, the answer is yes. As of April, Bing’s market share is 11.8% up from 8.4% back ten months ago at the start of the advertising campaign. During the same period, Google’s share has dropped to 64.4% from 65.1%. If Microsoft and Yahoo would have gone through with the merger way back when, they would have a little over 30% market share of search now. What Microsoft is doing is using mass reach for a mass use service. Remember, search is not a niche product. It’s for everyone, so everyone needs to know about why they should use you instead of the other guy. Sure, online is able to reach the masses, but it’s made up of millions of niches. In the world of search, you want the public to start with you, not someone else. In order to do that, you must use other tactics than the web to communicate that you should be the one they use to search the web. It really does you little good to market heavily online “after the fact” if they used the other guy to start their search.

Google’s stock price has taken a hit lately, though things may change with their green light to acquire AdMob. Part of the stock hit is because they are losing ground in the search game, their core bread and butter. There may be several reasons for this some of which is being distracted with other ventures such as cell phones, running a video site and getting deeper in the advertising business. This could be part of the reason why Google decided to begin running TV spots starting with the Super Bowl this year. Now you see them utilizing outdoor boards, direct mail and consumer print ads. Maybe they too are beginning to think to reach the masses one needs to use a mass medium that isn’t so niched. Where are you going to build mass awareness online? As I stated earlier, the online world is mostly made up of millions of niches and not very much mass.

The real lesson here is to know when to use what tool. You should never be so dogmatic on any tactic that it blinds you to seeing what is truly going on. Too many businesses today have drank the online kool-aid and believe that is all you need. As I have pointed out about social media,  conversations are great, but it doesn’t pay the bills. If your brand is not a narrow niche, then why use niche tactics? Understand what your brand is about and what it means to your customers, then use the appropriate marketing tools to reach and communicate to your customers. Don’t get so narrow minded that you miss out on reaching millions just because you want to stay online and reach only thousands.


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.

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