Doug Garnett’s Blog


Offline Advertising is Necessary for Online Growth

If you are pure B-to-B or consumer marketer with extremely limited goals, then this article may not be for you. But if you need to drive growth in large markets, then read on.

And start by considering Angie’s List, Eharmony, and GoToMeeting. All are perceived to be pure “online plays”. Yet each surprisingly uses massive TV advertising campaigns to drive growth.

Dig a little deeper and we find that Zappo’s gets the highest online sales per customer when consumers receive printed catalogs.

And our list goes on. TV plays include GoDaddy, Vonage, and Hulu… I even saw a report recently that non-profits with extensive online interaction commonly see the highest donations from off-line efforts like direct mail.

But many in the ad biz have drunk the kool-aid of the cult of online advertising. At some point they bought into the idea that “all online” was the future. (In part, agencies buy into this because while it may not make their clients much money, it has tremendous impact on their bottom line.)

And now, rather than finally recognizing online limitations, social media fantasies have become the latest excuse for never leaving the web. (This, despite strong and conclusive research showing that consumers DON’T get new product learning from social media.)

Offline Media is Powerful. Most often, I’ve found that online purists haven’t experienced the power of traditional media… Power that moves markets… Power that drives mass results fast… Power that can be exceptionally cost efficient… Power that far exceeds what’s possible in the cloistered world of online, social media, mobile, email, and other media hyped “cool” options.

So why are so many online companies now relying heavily on offline media? Because it drives growth.

Online advertising’s limitation is that people have to know they want your product before it’s effective – they have to know what you make and why they might want it. Online resources are superb for searching out answers to questions and sometimes purchasing the product. But online’s generally a poor medium for driving out a message about something innovative and unusual.

This is critical if growth is your goal. Growth almost always requires getting your message out to new people, in fresh ways, in order to bring them to become interested in your product.

It’s fundamental: If you are an online player and want to grow, you need offline media.

Not that Apple is the perfect marketing example. But they clearly understand the limitations in online advertising. In fact, onliners have complained for years that Apple doesn’t spend enough of their advertising budget online.

Hmmm. Looking at their growth, Apple seems a lot smarter than those who suggest they need to do more online advertising. By observation, I think Apple figured out that succeeding online doesn’t require advertising dollars. And, they must have found that the bulk of their advertising dollars are most effective in TV and other mediums.

Even with targeted markets, the companies who thrive without off-line advertising are few and far between. So if you’re looking for growth in your online (or offline) business, then you should look first at your offline strategy. Because moving forward may require that you first look back.

Copyright 2010 – Doug Garnett

Categories:   Brand Advertising, Business and Strategy, Communication, Consumer Electronics, Digital/On-line, Direct Response, Hardware & Tools, Media, Retail, Video