Whether it's Snapchat Geofilters, Twitter exploring a move past 140 characters, or Instagram advertising techniques, it seems like every day there's a new digital tactic to try. Yet in 2016, many digital experts are thinking about offline marketing: specifically, making sure to use it to its fullest.
One of those experts is Mallorie Rosenbluth, the Brand Director for Baked by Melissa, the immensely popular New York City cupcake chain. I had the pleasure of interviewing her for Firebrand Group's latest Ebook, 20.16 Big Ideas for 2016, which features 20.16 different interviews with our own consultants as well as external thought leaders who each recommend one "Big Idea" your business can incorporate into their 2016 plans. You can download the entire Ebook here.
Why do you think so many digitally focused companies are ignoring offline marketing?
There was a time when offline marketing was the only kind of marketing we could do. Then, the online world opened up and evolved quickly with a lot of impact. Things could be tracked and measured in a way that was never before possible. During the Mad Men times, there was a formula created that said, spend this much money, get this many impressions, make this much money. But it was really a best guess and an estimate. And yet, for some reason, people followed it like the Gospel for years. In a lot of ways, digital marketing turned that model on its head and gave us new metrics to measure and new ways to tangibly look at results. A lot of marketers flocked to digital because of this. Not to mention the "everyone else is doing it" syndrome that was perpetuated because of how quickly the digital space works. You can immediately see if your competition is running a campaign online and a lot of organizations are reacting to this.
I don't think it's fair to say that organizations are "ignoring" offline marketing. I do think that marketers are looking more closely at their budgets and are less likely to spend on something they can't track. Despite how sophisticated metrics are becoming, it is still very challenging to determine what is increasing foot traffic and dollars to retail locations.
There are still plenty of companies that think their online customer is a completely different consumer than their offline customers. What's your take?
I think we can't assume that everyone who shops online will someday walk into your store. Or vice versa. You can (and likely do) have loyal retail customers and loyal web customers. The important to realize is: 1) That's ok. And 2) This is an opportunity to educate and inform the customer (and the business--we should be learning from these behaviors and creating programs that work with them, not against them. Changing behavior is much harder than adapting to behavior).
You should think of it as a Venn Diagram. There are web users, there are retail shoppers, and there is an overlap of users who are both. It's our job as successful marketers to increase that space of overlap. Too often we look at "in-store promotions" and "online promotions" that don't complement each other. It's not even that they necessarily work against each other, either. More so, it's that they don't even acknowledge the existence of the other. When online and offline don't come together, you miss the opportunity as a marketer to educate your customer and create an ideal journey that includes multiple touch points with your organization.
What's a company that "gets" the importance of integrating online and offline?
I have a major marketing crush on Starbucks these days. They've figured out a way to become part of people's every day lives. Their app is amazing. Their store experience is warm, welcoming, and consistent. Their social media is powerful. They trust their consumer to advocate for them.
I also love what Ben & Jerry's is doing. They use the online space to tell their brand story and they aren't afraid to speak out as an organization about the causes that matter to them. I love that their products reflect their position as well (their flavors supporting marriage equality and the fight against global warming). It's well done, authentic, and uniquely Ben & Jerry's.
How do you make sure your own initiatives integrate the online with the offline?
It has to start with internal communication and dialogue. When you work somewhere that doesn't foster digital teams and retail teams working together, you're never going to succeed in integrating initiatives. I'm constantly astounded but the amazing insights the Baked by Melissa retail team shares about customers - their behavior and overall feedback on the brand and our products. That team is in a unique position to interact directly with the end-user in a way the digital team never does. I run every promotion and idea by the retail team--and often make modifications based on the information they share.
Our stores serve the unique and invaluable purpose of educating our customer and creating an experience. The worst thing to do is ignore the power they hold. Instead, the goal is to tap into the stores and use them to build long-lasting, loyal customer advocates who can help spread our message in the digital space.
Looking for more from Rosenbluth's peers, such as such as Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell, HubSpot's Laura Fitton, LearnVest Founder & CEO Alexa von Tobel, and many more? Access the entire Ebook here. And here's wishing you lots of success with incorporating both offline and online into your 2016 strategy.