Social Marketing vs Traditional Marketing Mix

In Australia, which is best – traditional agencies doing social vs social media consultancies? What is the marketing mix – online, offline, direct, TV, social – that is optimum for brands? Note for overseas readers: Tony Thomas runs a small agency The Population specializing in social media marketing). I saw Tony Thomas’ letter in B&T…

In Australia, which is best – traditional agencies doing social vs social media consultancies? What is the marketing mix – online, offline, direct, TV, social – that is optimum for brands? Note for overseas readers: Tony Thomas runs a small agency The Population specializing in social media marketing).

I saw Tony Thomas’ letter in B&T while moseying around a Bondi Newsagency. He reprinted it on his blog:

“Social media will replace all other forms of media within the next 5 years by making them appear irrelevant to today’s changing media consumer.”

I have one word in response to this statement: BULLSHIT!

It’s amusing to see commentary like this being bandied around amongst some of the media community who are clearly ill informed and have little to no understanding of the broader media landscape. It’s not doing social media any favors making these statements and it makes the industry look amateurish. Don’t get me wrong, social media will be essential in building ongoing brand and consumer relationships in the future, but it’s never going to make all other forms of media extinct.

Tony then goes on to outline how important it is to get a marketing mix right.

I Just Liked The Picture
I Just Liked The Picture

I left a comment on his blog to see who said that quote (experienced social media person? traditional media drinking the kool aid?)  and for a link. I mean, if it was one of you guys, well… but it wasn’t. It was someone (according to the email) at a conference.

But the whole issue begged the question – would you go to a social media specialist agency OR a major agency with social media expert? Which one works better for you? This is AN INCREDIBLY important question – kudos to Tony for raising it. And ignore Mumbles – he’s disappointingly turned into a reporter reporting other people’s news with a snarky comment, rather than a depth of content, insightful blogger.

By the way, my actual EMAIL (not letter with stamp) to B&T  said:

Very much enjoy reading B&T it’s a great magazine with a good mashup of print, direct,online and social media marketing information. And gossip. We love the industry gossip!

I did want to make one point – Tony Thomas from the newly formed social media specialist agency The Population wrote an article. In it, he quoted a media executive as saying that social media will take over traditional media in the next five years and he responded with “bullshit”and made the very valid point that a “marketing mix” of old and new media is important. I don’t think anyone would disagree with him -certainly no social media marketer that I know. But why then set up a social media specialist agency that doesn’t offer a marketing mix? Isn’t there an argument there to use a traditional agency that also “gets” social media?? Now I’m confused… ?

And yes, I’m still confused.  Is The Population marketing itself as an agency that does pure play social media, or is it a traditional marketing agency with a social media component? Do non-social media agencies that have a social media consultant have to specify that they do a mix, and in what proportions? Would you, dear reader, go to a social media expert or a large mainstream agency? Would you split what you wanted to do into two campaigns?

We’ve seen the dodgy stuff that comes out of dealing seperately with the traditional vs the online/new/interactive departments. Now imagine a 3rd one – social.  The anwer may well turn out to be “personal choice” – as long as you don’t take advice on blogging from non-bloggers for example –  but it’s the marketing that should be mixed, not the messages.

My stance? Go with the agency that understands your brand. In an ideal world, they will pull together the right team to work on the right blend of offline/online Brand Message. I’m personally uncomfortable working with any online community that has zero offline component, but then again, I’m lazy. It’s simply easier to build and maintain networks that have their  roots in the non-pixel world, than trying to figure out if it’s something that people might like to come together for.

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    1. o.O awwww I thought the liddle widdle baby was cutey-wutey. I love giggly babies.

  1. Very interesting post. I agree with your last point in particular. I think the key is finding an agency that not only understands your brand, but really digs deep to see things from the consumer perspective – this should lead the way. Finding an agency that maintains an open mind, and doesn’t have any set agenda’s in terms of offline/ or online strategies is key I think.

    Martin Delaney’s last blog post..Mind the gap

  2. The theory is spot-on. One agency knows your brand and its target market intimately and is the puppeteer for all marketing messages promoting the brand. This is why every large agency’s business model involves offering all capabilities under their umbrella.

    However, the flea in that ointment – according to scores of clients who have told me this over the years -is that generalist agency groups invariably do an inferior job when compared to niche specialists.

    The oft-quoted comparison is completely relevant: if you needed brain surgery to save your life would you be happy for a GP who has known your family for 20 years to do it? Or would you want the best damn brain surgeon in the country cutting you open?

    Every agency partner should have an excellent knowledge of the brand. And yes,there are many dodgy specialist agencies out there. But my contention is, if you want something done right, give it to the specialists who live and breathe exactly what you and your brand needs.

  3. Interesting points Laurel, and your honesty is as refreshing as always. 🙂

    I just feel sorry for the actual marketers. I am having trouble keeping up with what the offering proposition of the agency is, let alone someone client-side who only dips their toes in this space every now and again.

    If we keep sending mix-messages about this medium, we will never see many decent social media campaigns coming out of Australia. People will lose their faith.

    Kate Kendall’s last blog post..The exchange is now the bonus

  4. Actually Laurel, I was surprised on reading your letter, because I couldn’t see the ‘confusing’ contradiction in Tony’s article. Opening a specialist agency doesn’t imply a belief that traditional marketing is dead any more than becoming a carpenter assumes that builders will only use wood from now on.

    Just as in building a house, various different specialists will be called upon, usually under the guidance of a larger generalist builder. The same goes for media as well. Channel Nine focussing solely on television doesn’t mean they feel radio is dead.

    Kimota’s last blog post..Watching the Watchmen

    1. I’m pretty sure that Channel Nine has shares in a radio station. Just like they have shares in newspapers, NineMSN and other media.
      One thing I didnt think of, is that The Population is part of Photon/Naked or something isn’t it? Problem solved. You can be a specialist agency AND pass clients along to the broader focussed traditional agency.
      Kimota, you didn’t answer the question – would you want your strategy set by one agency that understands the whole campaign, or specialist agencies to do bits each?

  5. Channel Nine may hold shares in a radio station but that doesn’t make them a radio station in the same way as someone’s Telstra shares don’t make them a telecommunications giant.

    I don’t see a problem with specialst agencies completing each bit – and they are more likely to do well than a generalist dipping it’s toe into each area – as long as it is overseen correctly. And that is a different issue entirely. Any agency worth their salt would ask what the overall plan was across all media just as the carpenter in my analogy would work to the building plans. The issue of previous dodgy campaigns I think has less to do with specialist versus generalist agencies and more to do with a lack of coordination and that can happen even within an agency – believe me!

    Kimota’s last blog post..Watching the Watchmen

    1. You don’t walk up to a carpenter and say “build me a 30 million dollar campaign errr house”. You expect a housing company (read: agency with many arms) to build the house and organise subcontractors. But I can guarantee you this -if they can get away with using carpenters on the payroll, instead of paying outsiders, even if internally it’s a crappy job, they will. Nature of the beast.

      Which brings us back to the second part – most agencies have even within their own organisation digital competing with traditional. And the media companies I’ve worked with/for (TV, newspaper) are much the same: digital vs heritage.

      As the powerbase shifts – less magazine/TV ads being sold, more online and social media – empires will fracture and crumble, perhaps small boutique agencies that would never have been put in charge of multimillion dollar campaigns will come to the fore?

  6. My apologies for “turning into a reporter” on that one.

    While normally you are, of course, the centre of my universe, the paragraph covering your letter to B&T was only one within a longer review of the contents of the week’s marketing press. So sadly I wasn;t able to give you the laser focus you clearly deserve.

    But please rest assured, I’m sure I’ll soon be returning to the important debates you have with the likes of Tony T.

    And in the meantime, I’m more intrigued by the idea of you being spotted in a newsagent.

    I may run a competition – first person to email Mumbrella a photo of Laurel buying a newspaper or magazine wins a free place at out social media masterclass…


    Tim – Mumbrella

    1. Mumbles, your whole blog is redistributing other people’s news with a snarky comment. Actually, I don’t have a problem with that – you can be the Alan Jones of Aussie blogosphere.

      Good of you to give away free spots in your new SM “masterclasses” – unfortunately, my ones through the University of Sydney are fully booked months in advance and have been for years. *falls over laughing* See? I’m hopeless at the snarky thing – I start giggling 😛

  7. According to your site, your courses cost upwards of two grand a pop. A bit much for us ordinary mortals. For that money, I’d want to be sitting between Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch…

    1. Nah, that is for company to pay for a class of 10-20. Works out less at the public courses.

      I’ve been teaching social media masterclasses at the University of Sydney since 2005. You can come to a full day there if you like.

      You get a University of Sydney certificate too 🙂

  8. @ Laurel:

    You wrote, “But why then set up a social media specialist agency that doesn’t offer a marketing mix?”

    Putting aside the fact that I’m quite bothered by the whole concept of a “social media specialist”, agency or otherwise, the answer to your question, Laurel, is really quite simple. It’s what they’re good at. Specialists are everywhere, in all kinds of comms: search, TV, DM, web, etc. Do you have a similar problem with those outfits?

    The critical ingredent to consider when there are specialist skills/agencies involved in a project is, as Kimota already suggested, proper oversight/governance.

  9. I personally think that you should go for a social media specialised agency only if you dont have the budget to invest in other mediums. However, social media is easy enough to learn and several large agencies specialised in other services are also including social media.. So there is no need as such for approaching a separate social media agency unless and until you want the cheapest option.

  10. Well either way, the foundation of a great marketing campaign is market research. One company I would recommend is NBRI. However, there are others that are good as well.

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