December 27th, 2016 by Bob Bly
I recently told the story of how a community college
decimated its enrollment by dumping proven traditional marketing
channels in favor of some digital bright shiny objects.
Their mistake was not making the transition from traditional to
multi-channel marketing gradually and testing as they go.
Instead, they suddenly halted a marketing campaign that had been
working like gangbusters, fired their old agency, and hired a
new-media agency — with disastrous results.
Apparently, they’re not the only ones failing to be cautious when
transitioning from old-school print media to digital.
Subscriber DG writes:
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!
“For the past 25 years, we used old fashioned snail-mail
brochures to promote our engineering seminars.
“The recipient is invited to sign up online. In the early days,
we even used a live registration form. Online is even simpler.
“We tried purchased e-mail lists a couple of times, but the
response was abysmal. However, our own compiled lists — past
clients and others — do quite well.
“The results: over 12,000 students and probably over a million
mailing pieces. The extra revenues nicely enhanced the retirement
“Now I am doing classes through a small training company. They
mail an old fashioned catalog several time a year, with on-line
registration for the response. Quite successful.”
“So direct response is NOT dead, at least in my world.”
Subscriber DK tells a similar cautionary tale:
“3 years ago I had a client who specialized in laser surgery to
clear toenail fungus. Not glamorous, but necessary.
“I got them a 2-month Outdoor paper Poster campaign … 10′ X 20′
signs … you might consider them billboards. Valued at over $100K,
we got a two month deal for $30K.
“Ads ran in Feb and March. In November that same year people were
flocking to the clinics saying they remembered the Outdoor
“The next spring, since our campaign worked so well, the client
dumped us and pumped $25,000 into online somewhere.
“And what did they get for their 25 grand? About 6 likes, no
sales, no phone calls, and no one visiting any of their six
health clinics. Nada.
“Haven’t seen a ripple of activity from them since.
“Digital/On-line/Social are nice add-ons in moderation when they
have been vetted and tested, but they are not a panacea for all
that ails struggling businesses.”
1–Traditional print still works some of the time. Digital can
work some of the time. Sometimes they work well together.
2–Don’t throw out a campaign that is still working just because
you are bored with it, because if it is still working, your
prospects obviously AREN’T bored with it.
3–Test new channels, media, and tactics gradually and cautiously.
Stick your toe into the water first, before diving into the deep
end of the pool.