I am not a big fan of “old vs. new”. As a matter of fact, I am not a big fan of black vs. white or left vs. right or traditional vs. progressive.
Come to think of it, unless I am playing a video game or some kind of sport, I’m not a big fan of the concept of vs.
Aside from the topic of honesty vs. dishonesty, I tend to cringe at the thought of a rift being created in the marketing community when it comes to old vs. new or traditional vs. progressive. Here’s what’s really going on: Over the last few years, the Marketing industry has been going through an evolutionary leap. One that was sorely needed. One that came as the direct result of a communications revolution that gave consumers a true voice and the power to control the very message of the brands they were once spoon-fed through “traditional” media.
This isn’t about philosophy or schools of thought. It’s about following the evolution of a medium as it adapts to changes in the economic, scientific, social and cultural fabrics of our society (feel free to call them markets if you must). This isn’t an academic debate. It is reality.
Things like online communities and social media, WOM, open-source marketing, blogging, micro-blogging, mobile customer service and online reputation management aren’t replacements for traditional forms of marketing. They aren’t the enemy. They are simply the newest chapters of a book that is being written every day out here in the real world of customers, shoppers, clients, product design and 24-hour free shipping. To think that Marketing (or any field for that matter) is static is ridiculous. Advances are made in biology, political thought, film-making, athletics, warfare, foodservice, and the arts. Is it so difficult to accept that the same is true of Marketing?
We’re all supposed to be creative people. Contextual interpreters. Trend spotters. Is it so difficult for some of us to accept so simple a concept? Do some of us fear change that much? I am always amazed by the number of folks in the marketing, PR and Advertising industries who still insist on a) clinging to twenty-year old methodologies and b) not learning how to incorporate new tools and strategies into their bag of tricks.
Fact: Fear is irrelevant.
Fact: Change is a given. It’s a constant in our world. An absolute and cyclical certainty, like the seasons and the rise and fall of political dynasties and the ebb and flow of the tides.
Fact: Ignoring change or being fearful of it are not adequate strategies for anyone looking to still be in business once our economy recovers. Hear me when I say this. This is not my opinion. It is a cold, hard, palpable fact.
People were once afraid of the notion that the Earth might not be flat. They firmly believed that if ships sailed far enough, they would fall off the edge of the Earth. There was a time when the very notion of the world being round was vehemently opposed by traditionalists. And then one day, traditionalists were proven wrong.
Progress happens with or without us. Either we adapt to change, or we get left behind. End of story. Those of us who refuse to accept new marketing methods as additional tools of the trade are missing the boat and will get left behind. Likewise, those of us who proclaim that old models like advertising and mass media are dead are completely missing the point. We need it all, old and new, to make it work.
So I will say it again: It isn’t a question of old vs. new. The issue isn’t which between the two is better or smarter or more effective. The question is this: Given traditional methods and so-called “new” methods, which ones will benefit your specific client, company, or product line the most? Better yet, which one(s) will benefit their (your) customers the most?
The question isn’t about vs. It’s about specificity.
The more we know about every marketing tool available to us, the more likely we are to make the best possible decisions for your clients – and make ourselves relevant again.
If you are an ad agency, PR firm or marketing-related business still holding back because you don’t understand the value of these new tools and strategies, find someone* who can help you incorporate them into your business model before your competitors beat you to it. Likewise, if you are holding back because you haven’t figured out how to monetize these new tools, talk with someone** who can guide you through the process. Most importantly though: Stop thinking in terms of old vs. new and start asking yourself “how can we best serve our clients”. New, old… the terms should be irrelevant at this point.
Have a great Wednesday, everyone.
*/** If you are having trouble finding someone who can help you with this in your area, I will be glad to point you in the right direction.