Part 6: Traditional Marketing Vs. Digital Marketing: What’s The Difference?

Lure Creative is a full-service marketing company in Kansas City. We help small businesses Get Found & Be Known. In our adventures, we’ve found that many small business owners have questions about marketing, marketing budgets, and just what it takes to grow their business in this digital/online world. We have answers! So we decided to try to answer some of those questions in an ongoing series of blog posts. Part 6 of our Small Business Marketing Questions Answered series focuses on a common question: 

What’s the difference between traditional and digital marketing?

Traditional marketing is pretty much anything that existed before the internet became a force. For example, TV, radio, print (newspaper and magazine), billboard/outdoor, and POP (Point of Purchase)/in-store. Back before the turn of the century and before computers or cell phones were a thing, these were the only way we had to broadcast our marketing messages to the public. 

Fast forward to today, and the world is quite a different place. Not only do we have computers, we all carry them around in our pockets! Obviously, things have changed – they’ve gone digital. Digital marketing simply refers to anything done online. From websites to Facebook ads to Google ads, and videos on YouTube. If it happens online, it’s digital marketing. One could also argue that digital would have to include digital billboards, even though they are not technically on the internet or viewed on a computer. Although they serve the same purpose as static billboards, the digital part means that they are electronically created (a digital image) and controlled, and can be changed every few seconds to allow the rotation of several messages rather than a single message. 

As this change in technology occurred, to differentiate themselves and make it clear that they handled online communications, marketing companies began calling themselves “digital” marketing companies. Traditional marketing companies never called out the fact that they were non-digital. They just slowly evolved with the times.

Today, almost all agencies are “digital” agencies because they had to adapt or disappear. So now that we’re a good couple of decades into this 21st century, there really is no differentiation between a traditional and a digital marketing company. The terminology was simply created to bridge a gap in time while we all transitioned to this digital world we find ourselves in now. 

To be fair, both types of marketing technically exist. We’ve just added the digital options to the traditional mix. However, television, radio and print advertising have seen a shift in what they used to be as well. With the advent of cable TV and now streaming services, the television market has splintered. Satellite radio, online music apps, and even podcasts have eaten away at the once-dominant broadcast radio market. And much of the print media – newspapers and magazines – have transitioned to online media as well. So what we call “traditional” media really isn’t anything like it used to be. Time marches on.  

We hope this helps clarify the difference between the two different types of marketing. It seems the terminology has caught up with the shift in technology and now, if you say you are a marketing company, it is assumed that you offer digital marketing. It is, after all, a digital world we live in. Like generations before us, we are swept along the changing path that technology carves for us, for better or for worse. Just remember, the automobile, when it was first introduced, was referred to as “a horseless carriage”. When’s the last time you heard that term? Probably 1920! Now, one hundred years later, “horsepower” is changing from gas-powered to electric-powered! I guess it’s true – the only constant is change.

If you have questions about your marketing, traditional or digital, please feel free to contact us at Lure Creative. We’d like to be your marketing partner and help you Get Found and Be Known.