Traditional vs Search Marketing – BIMA Cross Media Forum

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I attended the BIMA 3rd Annual Cross Media Forum yesterday where people specializing in various channels of marketing came together to discuss media integration.

The forum was mainly geared toward large companies who use several different agencies to handle their print, television and online campaigns, and how they are able to overcome the obstacles that may be involved in working with a variety of platforms. The panelists discussed everything from brainstorming an idea to campaign execution to using metrics when measuring success.

The sessions mainly focused on traditional media and there was very little on search (the topic only came up twice during the questions portion). However, as I was listening to the panelists discuss the steps they take and the problems they encounter, I realized that the strategies they use and the obstacles they encounter are not much different from those that we encounter in the search marketing industry.

I decided to take some of the traditional marketing topics examined during the forum and compare them to the search marketing industry:

  • Understanding the Consumer – This was one of the biggest points the panelists tried to drive home. No matter what the product, no matter who your client, the most important thing is understanding the consumer.
    As it relates to Search: Isn’t this the first step in search marketing, whether it be paid or organic? The entire keyword research process is intended to find out what the consumer is doing, what they are looking for and what they want.
  • Understanding the Client – Before beginning a campaign you must understand what the client wants and what their expectations are.
    As it relates to Search: One of the foremost topics when it comes to SEO and search is setting client expectations ahead of time. This not only has to do with the service you will be providing them but the results of that service. You must understand what the client wants and they must understand what you will be giving them.
  • A Big Idea – Several of the panelists talked about how a ‘big idea’ was used to start a campaign, sell a client or make an account successful. They repeatedly stated that a big idea was almost always necessary to creating a good campaign.
    As it relates to Search: While there aren’t always ‘big ideas’ to jump start a campaign, there are often big ideas throughout – The article that made it to the first page of Digg and brought 10,000 visitors or the keyword research that determined people weren’t looking for ‘product’ but ‘equipment’ and increased sales 35%. Big ideas often play a pivotal role in helping a client succeed but they don’t always come at the beginning.
  • Be channel “agnostic” – The discussion was that many agencies are still only focusing on television or only on magazines when there are other platforms that may be more effective. The most successful companies are those that figure out which channel and channel combinations are best for the client and leverage them.
    As it relates to Search: There are many different “channels” within the search industry – PPC, Organic, Paid Links, Social Media, Affiliate Programs, etc. It is important that we keep an open mind and never force a client to use a “channel” because it is successful for someone else. PPC may work great for one client but not for another. We too must be “channel agnostic”.
  • Use Metrics – There was a lot of talk about metrics and measuring failures and successes through reporting. Each company had their own way of doing it and each metric varied by client. The main point being, there are no set metrics across the board for TV, Print or online.
    As it relates to Search: As search marketers we often live or die by metrics and reporting (or as we like to call them, analytics). One of the greatest achievements as a search marketer is being able to show your client an upward graph detailing their traffic growth, leads and sales over the past year. But, like traditional media, every client is different and there are certainly no set metrics across the board.
  • Overcoming Agency Barriers – With many of the larger companies using two, three, four or five different agencies, cohesion can be difficult. The digital agency may have a great idea for a website banner but it doesn’t fit with the magazine layout the publishing company just developed. Many of these agencies have to figure out how to work with one another, whether it be through a liason or simply getting to know one another.
    As it relates to Search: You make a great recommendation, the web-marketing person loves it, they pass it on to the VP of web-marketing, who passes it on to the VP of marketing who passes it on…okay you get it. With larger companies (and sometimes small ones as well) there may be several channels you have to go through to get your recommendation approved and in place. It often takes figuring out who can make the most impact and getting them immediately involved.
  • Working with the Media – Apparently, there are times when agencies and companies struggle to get the TV networks and magazine publishers to work with them. When an audience member asked “How do I get the media companies to work with me”, the simple answer was “pay a lot of money”.
    As it relates to Search: Does this sound familiar? Switch out media with search engines – How do we get Google and Yahoo to work with us? why isn’t my client ranking? Why are there only 300 of their 3000 pages showing up? The only difference is, even when you pay a lot of money, they still may not work with you!

Overall, the forum was interesting as I learned a lesson I apparently wasn’t aware of – Search marketing isn’t all that different from traditional marketing when it comes to strategies and problems. While the terminology and mediums may be different, in the end we are all facing the same issues…and that makes me feel a little better.

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