For as long as people have been selling products or running businesses, they have been marketing and advertising them, so you’d think we’d all be a dab hand at it and need no further knowledge or instruction. Well, unfortunately, what worked for businesses in the past is not necessarily working from them in 2018, and the latest trends and strategies require new skills which need to be understood and learned before being put to good use for your business.
First let’s look at what advertising focused on in the past. For the vast majority of history, advertising was largely focused around the same core principles.
Historical Core Principles of Advertising
Advertising efforts were predominantly local. For example, billboard advertisements are very useful, but they are only going to be seen by a small group of people. Namely, the people who live and work in the local area where the billboard is situated.
Advertising primarily sought to address facts and fix problems. Adverts weren’t celebrated for being clever or innovative (as they are today), and they definitely weren’t seen as having an artistic merit. Instead, adverts predominantly just listed the benefits of the product.
Advertising was also rather generalized, or at least, generalized compared to modern methods. Some targeting was possible — for example, choosing to run adverts for camping equipment in magazines for camping enthusiasts. However, a large amount of advertising was more scattergun, little more than able to hope that the right people would see it.
21st Century Advertising
However, In the 21st century, the advertising industry has been subjected to huge shifts. It has now changed almost beyond recognition. This has led to many businesses scrambling to keep up, as the “old ways” of advertising and marketing have been replaced by new innovations, notably inspired by social media.
Given this constant state of flux, there’s no doubt it’s rather difficult to make decisions about the advertising that may work for your business. Everything is constantly evolving. The old rules are being rewritten and then rewritten again. So, what actually works for business advertising in 2018?
Here’s a few ideas.
Targeted Advertising is King
The days of generalized advertising are long gone. Now, it is necessary for you to spend money on advertising that is only going to reach interested parties. This, ultimately, helps to deliver improved return on investment.
Targeted advertising is usually best achieved online thanks to data collection and management. With digital marketing and SEO, you only need advertise to people who are already interested in your services. You can, for example, run social media marketing campaigns with adverts that are only shown to people with a specific set of interests. In other cases your adverts will only display to people who conduct a specific, related search term.
It is far better for an advert to be seen by 10 people who are likely to buy than 1,000 people who may or may not be interested in the product.
Digital marketing and advertising has made this kind of niche targeting possible. This has allowed businesses to use their advertising budget to the greatest possible effect.
The Internet is the Future
For advertising, the internet is undoubtedly the future. It is thought that half of global advertising spend will be online by 2020. This portion of the sector will be more lucrative than offline spending. Many companies have reduced their budget for offline advertising, and have chosen to invest in online campaigns.
Google search ad spending grew at least 24% in 2017 and is expected to continue at a similar pace. More and more brands are switching their marketing efforts online.
It’s also interesting to note that online advertising and marketing is popular for both online businesses and brick and mortar establishments. For example, over 60% of retailers use online marketing strategies to boost their offline store, with social media marketing a particularly popular choice.
The Value of Content Marketing
Deciding to advertise online is just the first step for many businesses. From there, a decision has to be made about the type of online marketing they will use. This is particularly true for startups, who usually have a more limited budget, and need to see the best results from their chosen online strategy.
So, what is the best online strategy? It seems that content marketing is the answer here. Content marketing is good for SEO and it has been shown to be three times more effective than traditional marketing. Therefore startups on a limited budget can arguably get the most “bang for their buck” by investing in this area. With that said, it’s worth noting that content marketing isn’t just for startups either. In fact, 90% of all companies use some form of content marketing as part of their advertising efforts.
Offline Advertising Still has its Place
However, before every business dedicates 100% of its budget towards online advertising and content marketing efforts, spare a thought for offline marketing and advertising. Once the leader, this form of advertising has been steadily eclipsed by its new, shiny, technological cousin. Or has it?
While offline advertising may be losing ground, it still has a role to play in advertising strategies for many businesses. There are a few reasons businesses may want to consider offline advertising and marketing:
Some demographics are very difficult to reach with online marketing. For example, if your target demographic is an older generation, you may struggle to capture customers with an online-only strategy. This is due to the fact that over half of people over the age of 65 do not use the internet. If this age group is your target demographic, then you will need to combine some element of offline marketing in your overall strategy.
One of the major reasons businesses like online marketing is its cost-effectiveness. However, this does give more established companies an opportunity to capture an audience that startups cannot access. With a larger budget, bigger companies can advertise offline. This lets them reach an audience that startups and younger businesses just cannot access.
Offline marketing can also help to boost awareness of a brand in a local area.
While this may not be of particular use to an online-only company, it is a worthwhile consideration for brick and mortar businesses.
Essentially, the advertising that works in 2018 is online advertising. Specifically, content marketing techniques. However, there is still room for offline marketing, and this may be especially useful for brick and mortar businesses.
Ultimately, a blend of both forms of advertising is likely to produce the best results for most businesses.