In a highly competitive business world, organisations face several challenges in their quest for customers’ attention. Business to business (B2B) and business to consumers (B2C) companies are exposed to a plethora of stimulating awareness methods in order to fight for a lasting footprint in the consumer’s mind. Different channels used by marketers range from digital strategic tools to traditional or offline tactics, and some organisations have blended the two in an attempt to have a mixed strategic tactic. However, there are postulations and arguments that the world is going digital, and therefore, all brands should embrace the digital revolution to achieve their marketing aims. This hypothesis is hinged on the postulation that the world is going paperless and offline activities will be completely erased. But the question that needs urgent attention in the digital era where everything seems to be controlled by the internet of things (IoT) is simple. Will the world ever go offline?
Savvy marketers are aware of the danger of relying on just one approach to achieve their marketing objectives. The most effective marketing campaigns, in recent times, are not the ones that require huge financial investment or have gone digital, rather, they are the ones that are borne out of thorough marketing research of the target audience and channels through which they can be reached. Marketing campaigns across the world have focused on the unique characteristics of their target audience and have gone on to direct their campaign messages to suit them.
The Nigerian environment has taken a new dimension with the penetration of the internet, and the statistics are becoming overwhelming. In 2015, about 51% of Nigerians used the internet leaving approximately 49% of non-internet users exposed to only offline advertisements. The difficulty surrounding offline marketing has been that it is not measurable and its results cannot be quantified, but even digital marketers know that the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model adopted by online companies cannot also be quantified. For instance, not all clicks to the website translate to actual purchase, and although, measuring these two marketing constructs seems difficult, it is seemingly advisable to say that offline marketing strategies are a good way of backing up online marketing plans in order to increase brand awareness.
Unlike the online marketing platform where there are dialogue and engagement between consumers and marketers, traditional marketing is often considered a one-way communication channel. Consumers are talked to without feedback and the impression created within the little seconds the advertisement is sighted is expected to last for a long period, moving from sensory memory to the consumers’ short term memory. Therefore, it is expected that creativity is used in crafting compelling ads to facilitate and compel consumers’ senses to pay attention to the ads. For example, billboards advertising a specific brand will need to use a variety of techniques to capture consumers’ attention within the limited space on the board. They will need to include the name of the brand, the advantages of using the brand and probably the brand ambassador whose attestation to the brand efficacy will stimulate consumers’ interest.
The ironical challenge in this digital age is not to advocate for the final write-off of offline or traditional advertising techniques. It should be about findings ways to incorporate digital and traditional techniques in a bid to find a common ground for inclusive reach for consumers who are still at the bottom of the technological pyramid and also to extend the lifespan of a marketing campaign beyond the computer screens. A typical example is mobile (car) branding which may be a reminder channel to consumers that have once seen the brand online or may be an opportunity for first-time consumers to have a glimpse of the brand’s totality at a glance. The digital era should be a time to have reflective measures that will enhance both traditional and digital integration.
A brand whose total focus is on online branding may be successful. Also, brands with a full focus on offline branding may be profitable. But a brand with a holistic approach that combines both digital and offline branding techniques will have an edge. To illustrate this, a technologically-advanced Chief Executive Officer of a company can ensure that all business cards (offline technique) of the organisation have in-built Quick Response (QR) codes (online technique), such that anyone in possession of the card will gain online access to information that is meant to stimulate purchase intention of the company’s products and/or services.
Offline branding is not dead yet, and the benefits for organisations are limitless. For overall and competitive marketing campaigns, combining traditional and digital strategies will be a useful tool for organisations to boost their brand visibility. Competing in the digital era requires strategic moves that will place organisations ahead of their competitors. To this end, it is recommended that organisations should not ignore offline branding in the digital age.
What marketing techniques have proven most effective for your organisation?