When I first started working in marketing I thought the division between traditional and digital marketing was sign of a fundamental difference. I mean, agencies label themselves as specialising in “digital marketing”, so you’d think it was a pretty important distinction, right?
Over time I discovered that, actually, there are more things that unite the two camps than divide them. And that the focus on channels, mediums, and technology, is a huge issue with the marketing industry in general.
Articles have been written decrying advertising legend David Ogilvy’s methods as out of touch, and impossible to apply in modern world. Marketing professors have claimed that content marketing is a load of bollocks while startups have simultaneously claimed it to be the marketing strategy that built their successful SaaS business. Mass advertising is dead, no wait it’s still alive and kicking. It seems that marketers can’t agree on anything.
Hardly anyone talks about marketing fundamentals anymore. The unchanging stuff that is integral to every marketing campaign. The stuff that gets refreshed and updated as the world changes and as those principles are applied to new situations.
Instead, they’re glossed over in favour of the latest technology and tactic by the digital crowd, or shunned by the traditionalists because it’s “not real marketing”.
All of this is particularly damaging for newcomers entering the marketing field, as I was not too long ago. It’s almost impossible to find anyone that takes the hundred years of marketing literature and applies it to our modern, mostly digital world (even outdoor media is going digital).
Most digital experts are too focussed on marketing tactics to lift their heads up and see how SEO, PPC, and content marketing fit into the bigger picture. Traditionalists are dismissive of anything they didn’t learn about in business school.
I’m a software engineer by trade, and if there’s one thing that spending years working with software will teach you it’s that technology is a tool to solve business problems, and that eventually it will be superseded by something better. The only way you can adapt is to apply the fundamentals you learned to new situations.
So instead of focusing on digital and traditional as separate disciplines of marketing, how about we get back to work applying the rich history of marketing theory to our hyper-connected world and focus on the one thing that matters?
Selling things for our clients.