Have you read the book, " Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus. "? It's well worth a read. As much as we don't like to talk about the way our gender affects our behavior - especially in a professional setting - I think the book was pretty spot on.

The other day I was thinking about the differences between traditional marketers and online marketers. And I figured the book title would make an interesting parallel.

Traditional marketers seem to approach marketing from the opposite angles as internet marketers. And vice versa.

Like the book, I'm attempting to spell some of these differences out, so that we might understand each other better, accept our differences and try better to work together to help our mutual clients.

Keep in mind, I'm an internet marketer. I apologize, in advance, if my statements seem biased. I welcome opposing views in the comments. 

Branding & Positioning : Traditional marketers always start with branding and messaging. I still have trouble accepting that it really helps to pay someone $3k-$20k to tell a small business how to position their products or services. Despite the fact that HubSpot generates 9k leads/month, a brand marketer voluntarily and unsolicited wrote me a 3 page email about how our messaging was off. Granted, it could be improved. His feedback is solid.  But, this focus on "branding and messaging" seems to be sometimes misplaced.

On the flip side, I have a client that is doing very well at attracting more traffic. Their traffic isn't converting, though. I suggested more offers, better landing pages and more prominently placed calls to action. A very analytical approach. At the same time, I also introduced him to a partner and the partner suggested aligning the company name, messaging and positioning with the problems they are solving. The name was made up and the tagline doesn't spell out the value proposition. That's probably a better place to start. 10 points for the Traditional Marketers. Although we really shouldn't be keeping points in a relationship, right? 

Colors & Artwork: Again, this stuff is important. But 10 iterations? A pixel to the left or right? Does it matter that much? I guess so, if you're a traditional marketer who is simply getting paid to generate impressions, not an ROI. To be fair, when you're paying for expensive print or tv ads or designing direct mail pieces, all you have is the colors and artwork. So, traditional marketer's obsession with colors and artwork makes sense. But, when moving to the web, traditional marketers should understand that having educational and informational content and obvious ways for a visitor to start a dialog with a company are far more important than colors and artwork. Internet marketers know this and most good ones, practice it. 

That said, HubSpot isn't changing our colors to purple, yellow, brown and red anytime soon. Nor will we be changing our logo to a sock puppet.

How Much Content Is Enough? In traditional marketing, brevity is critical. Although most of my blog articles are long like this link building one and this business blogging one , they are also some of the most read, commented and linked-to articles ever published on our blog. We could argue that I could be more precise. I wouldn't put up much of a fight. But, noone can argue against the online marketing benefits to a business of producing more and more content on a company's website and on the web, in general.

Businesses must think like a media company. Not just subsidize them by buying ad space.

Traditional marketers need to learn that quantity and quality is critical to online marketing success. 

Data, Software & Analytics: Internet marketing strategies constantly improve based on data and analytics . Of course, even with my "traditional marketer" hat on, I don't see any fault in this. What do you expect? I'm an engineer by training. Measuring marketing - traditional or internet methods -  seems like a no-brainer. On the web, data can guide future activities and help predict results. Marketing analytics can analyze results and demonstrate ROI. Traditional marketers are still just reporting impressions. With closed loop marketing , internet marketers are measuring profit produced per activity.

The Importance of a Network: To run a successful PR campaign for a company, contacts with the media are handy, if not critical. With SEO and social media, a network of webmaster and social media contacts is also helpful, if not critical. In most mid-sized marketing firms, having a network of freelancers who can fill in on specific projects also becomes key to providing a full breadth of marketing and sales support services to a company. It doesn't matter whether you're leading with traditional marketing or online. In both worlds, a network of contacts is critical. It just seems rare that these networks overlap. This needs to be addressed.

Of course, my wife will tell you that I exhibit a few typically female traits like tearing during sad movies. And she has a few typically male traits like trying to figure things out herself instead of asking for help. And although I am male and often times think I am all-knowing (joke), it's probably important to note that many internet marketers also preach the value of branding and positioning, colors and artwork and brevity. Also, there are many traditional marketers that guide their clients in producing volumes of content and measuring its impact on the top line. But as a general rule, we should probably try and figure out how to complement each other's strenghts a bit more.

Agree? Disagree? What other similarities and differences have you seen between traditional and internet marketing professionals and/or firms? Do you know any marketing agencies that are good balancing both?

Photo by mahalie .

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Originally published Feb 10, 2009 7:24:00 AM, updated October 20 2016

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Inbound Marketing