Every Internet consultant in the automobile business is wrong when they tell dealers that they need to divert advertising away from traditional marketing to Internet marketing. The problem is they are using the wrong terminology!!
Today's traditional media is online. Radio, cable tv, direct mail and print are antiquated forms forms of marketing. To call those forms of advertising "traditional marketing" is like telling your kid to go to the record store to get a needle to play the new 45 you just bought.
Dictionary defines traditional as:
tra⋅di⋅tion⋅al [truh-dish-uh-nl] – adjective
1. of or pertaining to tradition.
tra⋅di⋅tion [truh-dish-uhn] –noun
1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.
2. something that is handed down: the traditions of the Eskimos.
3. a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting: The rebellious students wanted to break with tradition.
4. a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.
5. a customary or characteristic method or manner: The winner took a victory lap in the usual track tradition.
Sure if you are in a conversation with a third generation dealer those forms of advertising may be considered "traditional" according to the definition. Traditional could also mean generations of bad habits like smoking and overeating. Not real good examples to follow.
However the second part of the phrase "marketing" is defined as:
mar⋅ket⋅ing /ˈ[mahr-ki-ting] –noun
1. the act of buying or selling in a market.
2. the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.
What resonates the loudest in the definition of marketing is "the transfer of goods from .. seller to consumer." Antiquated marketing does not accomplish that, traditional marketing does.
So to use the definitions to define "traditional marketing" I would say "A continuing pattern of practices to transfer goods from seller or buyer." I don't think antiquated mediums suffice to fill those shoes.
It is the buyers tradition of research to acquire goods and services you must market in their form of tradition. With over 70% of buyers researching vehicles online before making a purchase decision it should tell dealers and consultants that the "tradition" for the buyer is to start online. Even if they do not make their final purchase there.
If customers by habit use a medium to collect information before signing on the dotted line, they have created the tradition that you must embrace. They don't care about your traditions or habits they only care about theirs.
You market to people by reaching them, you need to go to where they are. No amount of money is going to get them to listen to your radio ad when they are using their iPod and Sirrus, they won't watch your commercial if they TiVo or DVR and when was the last time you really read a paper front to back or sorted through sales slicks in your mail box.
Just as we have become immune from advertising so have our customers. I guess the weekly print ad is still an effective closing tool for sales people and weak managers and provides them with a tool to discourage other forms of marketing because they do not want to be responsible for encouraging something different than the status quo.
Today's consumers traditionally go online, most car dealers traditionally spend money marketing in the wrong places. Be an innovator if you are not to late and own a market area before your competition wakes up by using traditional marketing, let them keep wasting their money.
Customers are changing their traditions we must change our vocabulary.