Doubting Thomas comes to mind when I think of the struggle many old school marketers have when it comes to letting go of their past marketing methods. For decades, traditional marketing has been straightforward — businesses create and hone a message, buy advertising, let campaigns run, and track impressions. The deliverable is empirical — an advertisement, print collateral, or television spot – and a Marketing Director can say, that advertisement cost “x” dollars — a straight up exchange. Unfortunately, measuring the effectiveness of traditional marketing is squishy and it is losing its effectiveness in the 21st century.

AdobeStock_77561126.jpegAt the other extreme is inbound marketing — the art of attracting the right customer with helpful content, earning the trust of the buyer, and then nurturing that prospect into a customer. What strikes me as odd is that businesses choose to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to blast a commercial to a big audience without an ability to track ROI, and then say they don’t trust inbound marketing. Really? So 20th-century marketing tactics make more sense than leveraging the power of the internet with focused content created for your ideal buyer who actually wants your information and ultimately becomes a customer?

I admit, the idea of investing in someone to write blogs, e-books and videos is non-traditional and an enormous departure from the big advertising agency model of the past. And yet, if you consider your personal buying process — how you discover information, how you research before you buy, and how you canvas the internet to learn as much about your big purchase, you’ll realize this move towards inbound marketing isn’t really a leap of faith at all. It just makes sense.

So, the compromise for the 20th-century marketer is to spend money exclusively on a big Google AdWords campaign and other Pay Per Click (PPC) strategies. While PPC is an effective form of online advertising and can grab the attention of consumers, we all understand that these links feel less trustworthy than organic links. Yet that doesn’t prevent many businesses from investing tens of thousands of dollars in this marketing tactic alone. Maybe that’s because it’s the closest tactic to the oldest marketing transaction there is — “I pay for an ad, you make it, and I can see it.” Therefore, we trust it, even though we intuitively believe it probably won’t work, since we don’t ever click on them when we’re online.

I get it. This is a confusing time for people trying to market their products and services. With so many options, it’s easy to get paralysis through analysis and say, “to heck with it, I’m doing what I’ve always done.” The only problem is that you’re not getting what you always got. Traditional media has lost much of its power, and we are all in control of what we buy, when we buy it, and how we find it to purchase.

We are no different than our “buyers.” We need a mix of tactics that, at times, seem at odds with each other. We need to capture the attention of people and also provide trustworthy information to those who need help while researching. We need to be more creative than ever and also benefit from the analytics available to us through digital resources. And we need to create the campaigns, and enhance the ROI, so the real deliverable is empirical data that shows the effectiveness of your campaigns in top line revenue. If you’re a Doubting Thomas and need to see in order to believe, begin by letting go of what you’ve known and show a little faith.